From Programming to Program Manager: How one engineer found her dream job by combining her passions.


Harshitha Murthy

Harshitha Murthy has been fascinated by computers as long as she can remember and started programming as an 8th-grade student in India. "When I first began programming, everything felt like magic and it feels the same even now," she shares. When it was time for her to determine which undergrad program to study, engineering was a natural fit. 

While studying for her Bachelor's degree in information science and engineering, Harshitha was inspired to launch a campaign called "Help Women Lead" to ensure underprivileged girls in India could continue to study after high school. The initiative taught students the basics of computers as well as personal growth and impacted over 13,000 students in two years. Through this campaign, Harshitha realized just how important it is to encourage others to take that one extra step.

Harshitha's passion for engineering continued to develop as she completed her Bachelor's degree, and she decided to pursue a Master's in Computer Science at the University of California in Santa Barbara. She left her family, friends, and home country of India at the age of 21. "I knew if I wanted to explore more, learn more and impact the world, I had to take the not-so-easy path. This has been the best decision I have ever made." 


Harshitha Murthy with Margaret Mead quote


Always one to explore diverse opportunities, Harshitha decided to take a few business management classes "for fun" while studying for her Master's. It turned out that she loved the courses and completed the Graduate Program in Management Practices in addition to her Master's in Computer Science. After internships at several startups, Harshitha began to interview for full-time roles and landed initial interviews for engineering roles with Microsoft. A Microsoft recruiter she was working with identified that Harshitha would be a great candidate for a Program Manager role and asked her to consider it.

Harshitha had wanted to be an engineer since her early programming days but quickly realized that the Engineering Program Manager role encompassed the perfect combination of her computer science and management skills. "I am an engineer, passionate about technology, and I like talking to people and managing," she says. "I am so glad that Microsoft offered me this role."

The Program Manager role has Harshitha working on the Surface team on the Surface device for Surface customers (talk about a tongue-twister). She already had an affinity for the Surface, so it was a bonus to work on a product she loved. Although it wasn't the role she had pictured for herself, she recognizes that it is a perfect fit for her background and has discovered that it is truly her dream job. "This job is perfect for me since I am an engineer who loves to manage. It’s like tapping into the best of me," she says.

One thing stands out about Harshitha – she's not afraid of challenges. As she puts it, "because my background is in software field and I chose the hardware field, I have a lot to learn. But my team is very supportive and helpful." It seems pretty certain that Harshitha will continue to learn and grow as she pursues new passions and continues to create magic through technology.