Alumni Spotlight: Hussein Sharif - UW Oshkosh Today
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With his mother’s encouragement to go to college, Hussein followed in his brother’s footsteps and chose to attend UW-Fond du Lac. His college journey then took him to UW-Madison and the University of Oxford. He now works for Google, helping large and small organizations run their infrastructure on Google Cloud.

Name: Hussein Sharif

Hometown: Fond du Lac

Current Residence: New York City

Current Employer: Google

Current Position Title: Customer Engineer

Previous employment:

  • WebMD
  • IBM
  • Thomson Reuters

Years attended UW-Fond du Lac as student:  2006-2008

College Major: BBA Information Systems

College degrees:

  • Associate of Arts and Science Degree – University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac
  • Bachelor’s Degree, Information Systems – University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • MBA – University of Oxford, Said Business School

Please describe your current position.

Since being a professional cat person isn’t a career, I went with my second choice in jobs. I consult with startups and large scale enterprises on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Cloud  Architectures for use cases spanning different industry verticals. The goal of my work is to help organizations run their infrastructure on Google Cloud. By virtue of the position, I enjoy the opportunity to work with some very interesting organizations using the cloud to do incredible work.

Did you envision working in this field while you were a student at UW-Fond du Lac? What path led you to this career?

When I was 18, I had very little idea of what I wanted to do; in fact, I’m now in my 30s and still a bit uncertain about my future plans. I was working as technical support when I was 18, so I  figured I could work with computers. After that, an array of hard work, luck, and networking that spanned multiple cities ultimately landed me where I am today.

Why did you decide to become a student at UW-Fond du Lac?

I didn’t have much cash on hand to pay for a college education, and not going to college was not an option (bless my mother’s heart). I figured I could get an affordable and quality education at UW-Fond du Lac. My ever-smart older brother who also attended UW-Fond du Lac informed me of the brilliant Guaranteed Transfer Program (bless his heart, too) and I decided that attending UW-Fond du Lac and participating in the Guaranteed Transfer Program was an affordable roadmap to a college-educated future.

What led you to choose your college major?

Indecision? Just kidding…sort of. There were a couple things I knew I needed after graduation, a skill and a solid paycheck. The only way to solve debt is to pay it off. I had already worked with computers so thought I had some proficiency by virtue of experience. Late in my college career, I decided my personality lent itself equally to both human and systems interaction, so I pursued a business major with an emphasis in computer science. The best of both worlds.

Is there a professor or staff member at UW-Fond du Lac who made a difference in your life or inspired you?

There are too many to name. Professor Scotello was just a great guy to be around. Professor Rigterink’s course in logic was both eye opening and influential in my understanding of probability. Admittedly, I’m not the greatest at mathematics, but Professor Hussein miraculously managed to help me understand at least the foundational concepts. Professor Payesteh hammered into my head that you’re in business to make money – which is fundamentally true and set the pace of a lot of my learning after UW-Fond du Lac. I could go on.

Do you have a favorite memory from the time you were a student at UW-Fond du Lac?

I don’t mean to be cliché, but graduation day was pretty great. Walking across the stage to grab my degree I broke out into a little rehearsed dance. The student after me randomly did a cartwheel. The audience loved it.

Outside of the classroom, what activities, clubs or organizations did you participate in at UW-Fond du Lac?

I was working part-time at Charter Communications as technical support while attending UW-Fond du Lac so that kept me quite busy. Between that and school I was pretty consumed.

What’s your best piece of advice for an incoming UW-Fond du Lac student?

The importance of picking a direction. We live in a world where there are a crippling number of options, anything from your breakfast sandwich to your career options. My advice – pick one you reasonably like (doesn’t have to be perfect) and test-drive it for a year or two. If it doesn’t work for you, fail fast and pivot to something different. It’s hard to be certain with such a multitude of options. My career has ping-ponged a lot and it has helped me productively understand what I dislike – which is as important as knowing what you like.


Laurie Krasin