Julia Musailova '00 Innovates New Technologies for HBO
If you recently enjoyed an HBO television program or film, Stevens alumna Julia Musailova '00 ME '06 might have had something to do with it.
As a director of program management for HBO’s consumer technology division, Musailova works behind the scenes at the premium cable television network, leading a team of more than two dozen project managers and business analysts on the development of consumer-facing products, from design to launch.
One of her team’s major successes is HBO GO, a website, Xbox and mobile app which provides access to HBO content to subscribers of a number of different cable services. They work with technical teams and vendors to make the site function, allowing you to view online video wherever and whenever you want.
“It’s really cool when you’re walking down the street and you hear people talking about how they love HBO GO, or you’re on the train and you see someone watching one of our shows on an iPad or smartphone,” Musailova said.
The fast-pace world of media and entertainment is the perfect place for Musailova, someone who has never liked to sit still.
“Unless I’m learning something new, I’m bored,” said the Brooklyn resident, who goes skiing, scuba diving and hiking in her free time.
An extraordinary level of energy and a love of learning is probably what drew Musailova to technology in the first place – a field characterized by constant change and evolution. In Latvia, where Musailova lived until she was 14 years old, even middle school students had to pick majors, and hers was technology. When it came time to pick a college, she chose Stevens for its renowned Cooperative Education program, which would allow her to get her hands dirty right away.
“It was extremely important to me that Stevens’ Co-op program was strong,” Musailova said. “I knew I wanted to get actual work experience from the get go.”
Musailova started out as a Civil Engineering major, and her first Co-op assignment was at a local water commission, which managed water treatment facilities for a number of New Jersey towns. She quickly found that the pace of work was too slow for her – there were too many coffee breaks and not enough movement – and she switched her major to Computer Engineering.
“At first I worried that I would fall behind because a lot of the other students had been computer hobbyists since they were little kids, but I managed to get through it by using logic and bringing a different point of view to the table,” she said.
Before graduating with her B.E. in Computer Engineering in 2000, Musailova did two more Co-op assignments at an IT consulting company, doing help desk support and hands on computer maintenance for clients. She said the experience was critical to her later career success.
“The Co-op program was extremely well run,” she said. “It’s a natural way to explore your major more deeply, pick up experience for your resume, and gain a job-related support structure. And there was support throughout, from help with your resume to an advisor who could talk to you from a jobs perspective, not just an academic perspective. I used those resources quite a bit and it paid off well.”
Musailova’s first full-time job was at Time Inc., where she worked for eight years in various technical positions, including systems engineering, network engineering and technical project management for websites and applications like Time.com, People.com, and Fannation.com. She continually stretched the boundaries of her skills, never staying in one position for more than a few years and always looking to take on the next big thing. She also returned to Stevens part-time, earning her M.S. in Electrical Engineering and a Graduate Certificate in Project Management in 2005.
Today, in her fourth year at HBO, Musailova said she’s finally found her calling.
“I loved the hands-on technical work I was doing early in my career, but I’ve found managing people is the biggest and most invigorating challenge of all,” she said.