Poole College Graduate Brings a Global Perspective to His Work at Google
Within the span of six years, Patrick Schilling has called Germany, the United States, Ireland and Switzerland home. But speaking from Zurich in late January, he says he might just be ready to stay put for a little while.
By Lea Hart
“As soon as I start feeling happy somewhere, I tend to move on and take on the next thing,” Schilling said.
Schilling grew up in Germany. He came to NC State in 2016 to finish the last two years of his undergraduate career as part of the Poole College of Management’s International Business Dual Degree program. While at NC State, Schilling founded and served as president of Digital ShapRs, a student organization dedicated to educating students on the complex nature of artificial intelligence and other digital innovations.
He was the 2018 student commencement speaker for Poole College and university commencement ceremonies. Upon graduation, he received a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship and honors in business analytics. He also received a bachelor’s degree in international management from ESB Business School in Germany.
He hasn’t slowed down since – save a short two-week break after graduation to relax and travel the U.S. with his dad.
Straight to work
Schilling went to work for Google upon graduation, which landed him in Dublin, Ireland as an associate account strategist for Google Ads. There, he helped customers figure out their digital advertising strategy, working out a plan to bring their businesses online, he said.
Then, that ever-present itch to try something new led him to a position in Google’s Cloud segment.
“Google is a leader in so many areas, and the Cloud represents yet another new area of tremendous opportunity,” Schilling said. “It had that same entrepreneurial spirit that was injected into me while I was at NC State.”
From there he took on a role as a strategic deal manager for Google, which culminated in his move to Zurich.
His work now involves building strategic partnerships between Google and other organizations to provide Google’s services. Just last year, he was part of a team that forged a 10-year strategic partnership with Deutsche Bank, the leading bank in Germany with strong European roots and a global network, as the bank embarked on its digital transformation.
The typical workday is long and begins early. Schilling can be part of conversations all over the world. His team meets internally in the morning as well to set themselves up for the day, and customer meetings usually follow. The afternoons are often reserved for innovation and creative work.
“It’s a lot of meetings and a lot of stakeholders,” he said. “It’s very international, and that’s exactly what my time at NC State has prepared me for – having that cross-cultural understanding.”
When he speaks of the path he’s taken since leaving NC State, Schilling said his undergraduate degree prepared him well for the next steps, and he believes those first years on the job are crucial to figuring out his professional path forward.
“You need to start your job to really know for sure,” he said. “Does the first job you take make you want to wake up in the morning? For me, that was true.”
“But if you’re universally well-educated, as I was from NC State and my German undergrad, you will be set up for all kinds of jobs.”
Several years later, Schilling talks about how the Think and Do approach at NC State set him up for the success he’s had today.
“The world today is shaky and moves fast,” he said. “You have to think through what you want to do and then go out there and do it.”
“Fail fast, assess if it works, if it doesn’t, pivot and try something else.”
With the opportunity to live in so many countries, Schilling also brings a global perspective to his work.
“Whether politics, business, or even running a local store in the middle of Zurich or Raleigh, you will be faced with people from other cultures, other backgrounds, other countries,” he said. “Having that cross-cultural understanding or developing it, and breaking the patterns that you think in that are specific to the context you grew up in, is just very important.”
An advocate for those with disabilities
He applies those same rules to advocating for people with disabilities – something he did at NC State and has continued to do in his professional life.
Schilling was born with a physical disability and works to raise awareness and be a voice for those with disabilities. On just his third day at Google in Dublin, he approached his manager to join a steering committee that advocated for those with disabilities. He’s hosted events, delivered speeches, and spoken to recent graduates with disabilities about how to go after the job they want and to be healthy and successful in their lives.
Schilling notes that according to the WHO, roughly 15% of the world’s population today has some type of disability.
“We are lucky today in that the societal narrative is changing away from, ‘let’s try to help people have a dignified life,’ to, how can we focus on all the positivity and inclusivity that people with disabilities can bring,” he said. “How can we embrace the varying perspectives?”
“So many ideas are yet to come – I’m very excited to do my part.”
In 2020, Google did a portrait feature on Schilling, his role at Google, and his work as an advocate. He also received a diversity, equity and inclusion award from Google that same year.
With all that he does, Schilling also makes time to stay involved at NC State. He shares his experience and offers advice to people pursuing the same dual degree program, and has served on alumni panels for Poole College.
He misses friends from Raleigh, but said those bonds are life-long and still keeps in touch with friends now living in places like New York and Colorado.
And, he jokes, he just cannot get good hot wings in Europe. MoJoes in Raleigh was one of his favorite stops.
In spite of what he misses, Schilling has found a peace and happiness in his work in Zurich that will keep him there for now.
“For the first time maybe in my life, I do have the feeling that this is a place where I can stay for more than just a few couple years,” he said.
This post was originally published in Poole Business Magazine.