September 25 2012
"My Unexpected Career"
Lange '89 talks about his path to publishing and Google
Khaki pants and Jeopardy!
Roland Lange '89 says both played a role in "fateful turns" that shaped his career path.
Lange, major accounts lead for YouTube Sports, spoke to an audience of 100+ on Sept. 21 during the annual ILR Alumni Association fall program.
In his presentation, "Google: My Unexpected Career," Lange recounted an interesting journey that eventually led to accomplished work in publishing and a senior position with Google.
A native of Trumansburg, New York, Lange says that deciding where to go to college was easy. His parents were both Cornellians, and Cornell was 10 miles down the road. "For me, college was Cornell."
"My mom was an elementary school principal who loves to read and always had books in the house. My father was a Presbyterian minister but an electrical engineer by training, so computers have always been a part of my life."
Lange says that when he graduated from ILR, he thought he wanted to be a lawyer. He spent the early years of his career after ILR working as a legal assistant in New York and then in San Francisco.
He soon decided that law was not for him and being a paralegal wasn't taking him anywhere. "My girlfriend at the time (now Lange's wife) told me I was capable of much more, so then I thought, maybe I could be a doctor."
That resulted in taking a position as a hospital administrator. He also spent time as an editorial intern during lunch hours at Sierra Club Books, and his passion for publishing was born.
Still, he wasn't sure. "I had also taken some courses at UC Berkeley when I was in San Francisco, at a time when I thought I might want to be an English teacher."
In 1996, after moving to New York City, Lange found book publishing, an industry he loved, when he began working in the sales department of Penguin Books. "I stopped wearing jeans to work and started wearing khakis. In eight months, I was promoted to assistant field force manager," he quipped.
Several years later Lange "tried out" for a position with Google, going through a lengthy and interesting interview and screening process during which he learned all he could about Google.
He thinks that his preparation, Cornell degree and good grades at Berkeley helped his application, but that his success as a two-time Jeopardy! winner "might just have secured the offer."
Lange started at Google as major accounts lead for Google Books, responsible for creating partnerships with the top publishers in North America, India and South Africa.
While at Google Books, he joined the ILR Alumni Association board and started meeting with students and alumni, discussing their interest in Google and careers in general. These discussions led to another reconsideration of his career.
He realized he should explore more of what Google had to offer. YouTube had always been an interest, he said, so he went after and secured a position with YouTube Sports. A major sports fan, Lange now gets to be inside the sports industry from his perch at Google/YouTube.
"When students talk to me about careers choices and jobs, or when I'm talking with my ILR friends, that helps me think more clearly about what I want to do."