Jos Visser, Google

by Jos Visser


Born in 1966 I didn’t grow up with computers. In fact I was about 15 when I got my first glimpse of anything remotely computer-like, and I had a near-religious experience.

It’s 1981 and my school is organising a Cultural Week. As part of the festivities the math section arranged for a terminal with a dial-up connection to a local datacenter to be installed in one of the physics classrooms. There, under the stewardship of one of the math teachers, a small group of students was introduced into the awesome field of computer science. From that moment on I was certain that I wanted a job in the IT sector.

I bought my first computer, a Sinclair ZX-80, and taught myself to program in BASIC and assembler. Strangely enough people were somewhat skeptical when I announced my intention to pursue a career in this (then still) new field. “Don’t do that”, they said, “this field is progressing so fast that pretty soon computers will be programming themselves, and there will be no job left for people.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Today, 34 years after I first saw a computer, I still think people are  the most important part of any IT project. As software engineers, but also as product managers, tech support, project managers, data analysts, and a whole range of other jobs that you probably never even heard of.

My tech story allows me to work with international teams on world-changing products like Google Maps and YouTube. It brought me to dozens of countries to work, study, or attend conferences. It provided me with a field where I learn new things every day. Today I am at Google in Cambridge (Massachusetts), preparing to move here later this year to join the Google Flights team, where I will be responsible for the engine that powers Google’s flight search (go to Google, enter “London to Boston”, and watch the awesomeness.

I am happy I didn’t listen to the naysayers.


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