University of Washington
Computer Science & Engineering

Leadership Seminar Series

CSE 390L, Winter Quarter 2016


Tuesdays, 1:30-2:20, CSE 305
Instructors: Ed Lazowska / Dan Grossman
A one-credit (CR/NC) seminar series


The UW CSE Leadership Seminar Series, CSE 390L, is a one-credit (CR/NC) seminar series, primarily targeted at upper-division CSE undergraduates, that brings CSE alumni and friends to campus to describe how to be effective in a startup, small company, large company, or less common environment. Our guests will discuss topics such as:

  • How do you position yourself to work on interesting projects?
  • In a large company, what strategies can make you influential, vs. a cog in a wheel?
  • What is life like in a startup?
  • If your goal is to start and grow your own company, where do you begin?
  • What are the pros and cons of less common career options, such as teaching high school computer science?
  • What do you need to know in order to succeed, that you don't learn in your classes or during an internship?
  • Why might you choose graduate school vs. tech industry employment after graduation?
These should be great, informative, interactive sessions. This seminar was very well received during the offerings in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. But it's up to you - you need to make it interactive!

Course requirements

Regular attendance, active participation. Please read up on the individual and his/her employer(s) in advance of each course session.

Course email archive

Send email to course members by using the address cse390l_wi16 at

The archive of email is available here.

The lineup

This year we have an amazing lineup - please come to class prepared to take advantage of these alums, including:
  • Recent grads doing what most of you probably imagine yourselves doing - working in Seattle for great companies such as Facebook, Redfine, Socrata, and Google
  • An alum only 9 years out who's at his 4th company - as CEO and Co-Founder
  • A Ph.D. student who moved to industry research
  • A B.S. student who enrolled in a Ph.D. program but left with an M.S. and is on his second job with a leadership company
  • Sibling B.S. alums who received Ph.D.s from Stanford and MIT and moved to industry, one as a Founder and CEO
  • A B.S. alum who runs Uber Seattle after a number of years with Isilon, but is prevented by nepotism rules from hiring his younger brother, also a UW CSE B.S. alum, from Google
  • A B.S. alum who after time at Amazon and Google is now helping the US Government sortout its IT "issues"
  • A B.S. alum with an MIT Ph.D. who leads a major Facebook Android team
  • A Special Forces soldier who after his UW B.S. moved to Socrata
  • A B.S. alum who is in her 12th year at Amazon. (Don't take the New York Times at face value on this!)

Tuesdays, 1:30, CSE 305
Date Room Guest(s) Experience
January 5 CSE 305 Panel of young alums:
    Jenny Abrahamson, 2012 UW CSE B.S., 2013 M.S.
    Stephanie Smallman, 2010 U.W. CSE B.S.
    Clint Tseng, 2010 UW CSE B.S.
    Tariq Yusuf, 2014 UW CSE B.S.
These alums are (or were until recently) individual contributors at:
    Egraphs -> Redfin
January 12 CSE 305 Jason Tan, 2006 UW CSE B.S.
Slides (pdf)
Zillow -> Optify -> BuzzLabs (CTO) -> Sift Science (CEO & Co-Founder)
January 19 CSE 305 AJ Brush, 1998 UW CSE M.S., 2002 Ph.D.
Slides (pdf)
Microsoft Research
January 26 CSE 305 Sunil Garg, 2010 UW CSE B.S. Georgia Tech M.S. -> Amazon -> Uber
February 2 CSE 305 Jon Su, UW CSE B.S. 2006
Sara Su, UW CSE B.S. 2002
Slides (pdf)
Stanford Ph.D. -> Intel -> PhiSix Fashion Labs (Founder & CEO) -> eBay
MIT Ph.D. -> Tufts -> Google
February 9 CSE 305 Tim Prouty, UW CSE B.S. 2006 Isilon Systems -> EMC Isilon -> EMC -> Uber (Head of Seattle Software Engineering)
February 16 CSE 305 Albert Wong, UW CSE B.S. 2004
Slides (pdf)
Amazon -> Google -> United States Digital Service
February 23 CSE 305 Jenny Yuen, UW CSE B.S. 2006
Slides (pdf)
5-minute related Sheryl Sandberg video
MIT Ph.D. -> Facebook
March 1 CSE 305 Mike Hotan, UW CSE B.S. 2013, M.S. 2014
Slides (pdf)
March 8 CSE 305 Margaux Eng, UW CSE B.S., 2004
Slides (pdf)