How did you get into technology?
I entered the world of technology when I joined Google in 2005 after getting my MBA. I’d worked in Finance earlier in my career and did an internship as a brand manager at a large CPG company, but both had left me wanting more. In my second year of business school, a handful of companies from various industries came to campus to talk about potential job opportunities. I popped into my first tech session, with Amazon, and was blown away. There was so much energy and excitement around what they were doing and where the tech industry was going that just didn’t exist in the other sessions. Then Google visited, and I was hooked. I joined the company after graduation and haven’t looked back since. In this industry, you have to constantly challenge the status quo and think about the future first. I love the pace, energy, challenges and vast opportunity.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in technology since working in the space?
Since I joined Google, I’ve seen a dramatic change in the way people work and the way people learn.
When I started, most people used devices and apps in their home life that they loved, while they were stuck with slow, heavy enterprise software and devices at work. Working from home, on the road or from a remote office meant feeling disconnected and operating in isolation. Now, with the incredible growth in the mobile space and the development of smartphones and tablets, people can use whichever devices they want to work with and work from wherever they need to be. You don’t have to be in the same place to feel like you’re working side by side with someone. You’re seeing their face over a video conference or collaborating on a document at the same exact time, watching as the words they type appear right on the screen in front of you.
On the learning front, if you look at a classroom today and compare it with eight years ago, the landscape has changed exponentially. Students are relying more on technology to learn, and education content and devices are opening new opportunities for teaching all over the world.
What advice do you have for other women interested in technology?
I’m one of four girls in my family, and my father always taught me the importance of having thick skin. I definitely think this applies to anyone working in the technology space. Decisions are made quickly. Change happens often. It’s important to be open to all perspectives and to be ready to push hard for what you really believe in.
How did starting a family affect your ability to continue to move fast at work in the tech space?
It was incredibly hard to take that first step away from work, and then to come back five months later and acknowledge how much I’d missed. But becoming a mother has also helped me in ways that I didn’t anticipate. First, it helped me put things in perspective. It’s incredibly inspiring to look at my child and think about all of the possibilities that technology will enable for him. Second, I increased my productivity quite a bit when I had a child. It’s important to me to be fully present whether I’m with family or colleagues. To strike this balance, I need to draw clear lines between work time and family time.