May 2018 Member of the Month: Mrs Kamila Staryga (2006)

"Wolfson, and my time in Cambridge, gave me friends for life. We are spread across the world, yet we are still so close."

Kamila Staryga

How did you come to study at Wolfson College?

When I was selected for the ACDMM (now called the ISMM Graduate Programme), the course director, Simon Pattinson, recommended Wolfson College to me. Some of the classes we had were held at Wolfson and quite a number of students on this course decided to stay at Wolfson. Wolfson was presented to us as an international and diverse college for graduate students. It was exactly who we were, therefore Wolfson felt like home to us from day one.

What is your current occupation and how did you get into this role?

I work for X, (formally known as Google X), the moonshot factory of Alphabet. I manage early-stage technological explorations. It is my dream role. Throughout my career of the past ten years, everything I was learning and doing was tailored to be able to allow me at some point to do what I am doing today. In my LinkedIn bio you can find out more about my career.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

It is very rewarding to build a future that we all will be living in.

How have your studies at Wolfson helped you in your career?

Being at Wolfson I learnt how important it is to listen to people who have a different perspective and how to layer these over what your own thoughts are. I also only retrospectively understood that a healthy conversation and intriguing debate are possible as we all shared the same values and outlook on life. Now when I hire people for my team I always look out for this type of dynamic. I work very hard to build and lead my team so that our team meeting conversations resemble those at Wolfson Formal Halls.

What is your fondest memory of your time at Wolfson?

Just one thing! It is impossible to choose! Wolfson, and my time in Cambridge, gave me friends for life. We are spread across the world, yet we are still so close. We keep on building more and more memories to share with our grandchildren.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

I have four pieces of good advice that I have been given that I would like to share with you:

  • "Staying calm is the feature of the master" is something that my Dad often says;
  • "Never settle for second best" from my mentor, Jarek Oleszczuk;
  • "Do the best you can in any situation that you are in in life" from one of my bosses at Google EMEA, Alice Mansergh; and
  • "Everyday must count but each day make one thing count. It can be the smallest thing but it has to be something that will bring you closer to your big dream", from Anousheh Ansari.  

And I will add one thought from me: "Do not take yourself too seriously".

Which person (living or historical) do you most admire and why?

I have great admiration for so many people but my parents Anna and Jacek, my brother Bartosz, as well as Obi Felten, Natalia Vodianova, Maria Skłodowska Curie, Bjarke Ingels, Benjamin Millepied, Elon Musk and Jarek Oleszczuk have all been true to themselves and have worked very hard to build beautiful lives for themselves and for those around them.

Which book has had the greatest impact on you?

So many books have had an impact on me but the book that has had the greatest impact on me recently has to be Human Anatomy by Bochenek and The Idiot by Dostoyevsky.