A Big Picture Engineer
As an Executive for Real Estate at Google, Roshan Mehdizadheh Corsiglia ’06, M.S. ’07, applies her talent for the big picture to oversee multi-billion dollar projects and millions of square feet that deliver Google’s award-winning workplace experience. But “talent” really isn’t the right word for it. Since receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering/construction management at SCU, Ro assiduously and methodically worked to nurture and grow her ability to creatively view real estate development from a 360-degree perspective.
Early career experiences as an engineer for the Town of Los Gatos and project manager for Devcon Construction piqued her interest in the business and societal aspects of her field. Questions about the socio-economic impact of sustainable building practices and the unintended consequences of development stirred her return to academia and led to a master’s in Urban Development and Planning—Real Estate from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University.
Putting Creativity and Innovation to Work
While she was at Stanford, Google called. “When an opportunity arises at Google, you take it,” she said with a laugh. It proved to be a golden opportunity. As a new hire, she led all sustainability initiatives for Google’s Asia Pacific region, driving initiatives and exploring the impact of the company’s actions. Next, she developed a building information modeling (BIM) program for the conglomerate. “As a manager of Google’s real estate portfolio, I was interested in long-range impact for the lifecycle of our buildings. I wanted to optimize and create efficiencies that would extend beyond the construction phase, so I investigated the potential for utilizing 3D models that link to building-related data,” she said.
Jumping in, she ran pilot programs, performed user-experience research, and shadowed building operations personnel to get a clear picture of Google’s facilities management. “I saw an opportunity here to improve how we collect data early in the construction phase and disseminate it across operations teams to improve efficiencies. Lighting, mechanical, plumbing—there is component-rich data we can keep accurate that can help us avoid costly maintenance and conserve resources. This is the search engine of our built environment!” she explained.
Her 3D visualization software was patented and it is now deployed on all of Google’s new ground-up developments. Streamlining the BIM program modeling into VR requires a higher level of detail throughout design and construction than was previously required, and a broader range of stakeholders are brought into the process. “At our internal reviews it has been fun to see a room full of executives all wearing VR headsets—a wide range of stakeholders who view the project through different lenses and contribute to the success of the projects,” she said.
A Woman of Influence
In her role, Ro has responsibility for multiple areas. Her cloud-based project delivery system was patented which allows projects to track cost, schedules, and manage risk while maintaining consistency across a broad spectrum of development projects. The proposed 60-acre downtown San Jose Google campus that could include 6.5 million square feet of office space, up to 5,000 homes, retail and parking space, and 15 acres of parks and green space woven throughout. “We’re very excited for this incredible opportunity to create a sense of place accessible to everyone. I was born in San Jose and raised in Silicon Valley. There is a rich history here that we want to preserve while making this a place where everyone can thrive,” she said.
Ro predicts that in the next 20 years the construction industry will make a leap similar to that of the computer industry in the 1980s. As a member of the Urban Land Institute and Innovation Council, she partners with other industry leaders to create and sustain thriving communities. For her vision, innovation, and creativity, she was selected as both a Silicon Valley’s Top 100 Women of Influence in 2019 and San Francisco Business Times Woman of Influence 2019.
“I love learning and contributing to something,” said the All-American swimmer who twice trained for the Olympic trials, in 2004 and 2008. “Working in teams on projects, and collaborating across disciplines and functions is energizing. If there’s something I don’t understand, I’m never satisfied until I figure it out. I’ve been to many academic institutions and SCU is by far the most academically stringent place I have been. The sense of community combined with academic rigor set me up to be successful in my career from there on out. One of my proudest accomplishments is graduating from Santa Clara and it has given me a seat at many tables with the technical background I came away with.”