Just recently I joined Girls Innovate! as a Teen Committee member, and already I have this awesome task of being one of the Teen Committee leaders for our next event.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Maggie about her role in Google in Education, and how she believes it will impact our world.
Question one: Can you tell us more about your background: where you grew up; where you went to school and what you studied; and how you ended up working at Google and doing what you do now?
I grew up in Texas in a town outside of Houston called The Woodlands. I love Texas and it was an obvious choice for me to attend The University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘em). I studied Marketing in the McCombs School of Business and minored in Spanish. I also took a lot of classes in our science department, working towards my pre-med credentials. I loved the coursework but ultimately decided against applying to Medical School.
While at UT, I was President and member of Global Business Brigades. As part of this organization, I had the lucky opportunity to work with small communities of women in the jungles of Panama and consult them in setting up their own businesses. My team helped one community set up an ornamental plant business where they grew plants in the jungle, and then transported them to an affluent area of Panama City for sale. This experience was the first time I really connected to business and the positive impact it could have on the world, which led me to seek out socially minded companies when I was graduating. Google is known for its “do no evil” policy and creating world-changing technology. I wanted to be a part of that and have the opportunity for massive global impact. Joining the education team at Google was a next step on that journey.
Question two: How is Google structured as an organization and where does your department and role fit in?
Google is a giant company with a lot of complexity. We have the product side of things (engineering), the business side of things (sales and marketing), plus many other departments. My team fits under the business organization within Marketing. I am a Product Marketing Manager for all Google in Education products, including Chromebooks, tablets, Google Play for Education, and Google Apps for Education.
Question three: What skillsets and personal qualities do you think have been valuable for you in your career? Which do you wish to develop to further your career at a company like Google?
One of my most valuable skillsets at Google is curiosity and my desire to constantly learn new things. Google is a fast-paced environment that requires you to adapt quickly, and a desire to always learn new things makes that experience fun rather than scary. I also think my interpersonal skills have been invaluable in my career at Google. They matter for the roles that I’ve had because I have so many different stakeholders, and they’ve helped me move around the company and find a role that really suits me.
To further my career at Google, I want to keep improving upon my communication skills. Communicating internally is key to success at Google and having presence and delivery skills sets you apart. This is also a bit more personal but I think will also help my career at Google – I really want to learn to code!
Question four: What is the most fun part of your job at Google? The most challenging?
The most fun part is the people I work with. I love my manager and my teammates. They make coming to work every day exciting. Plus they’re super smart and I learn so much from interacting with them. The most challenging part of my job is there are so many moving pieces at Google. Juggling all of the initiatives takes a lot of planning, prioritization, and good fortune 😉
Question five: What parts of your job have the most direct consumer impact?
My role is pretty external facing. I manage our website for Chromebooks, Tablets with Google Play for Education, and Google Apps for Education. I also manage our customer communications such as webinars and electronic mails. We will be at a couple of conferences this year, and I’ll be planning our presence at those events. Acting as the liaison between our customers and the product team creates positive impact for consumers, as well.
Question six: How does Google in Education hope to improve learning?
Google in Education seeks to give access to students everywhere through making our tools affordable (sometimes even free!) and easy to manage and use.
Question seven: What is it doing now and where does it hope to go?
We work closely with our existing education customers and our product team to make sure that our products are the best they can be for schools. In the future, we hope to expand our reach and have greater global impact. Google is all about 10X thinking, and we want to bring that to education.
Question eight: How do you think equal education worldwide will impact our way of life?
There are so many bright people (young & old) in the world that don’t have access to education. With the right tools and access, they can learn just like the rest of us. Empowering these people and helping to release their untapped potential will transform the world. They will dream up solutions to world problems that we can’t even fathom. They will bring equality to their nations. They will bring peace. It will completely change the world. It already has.
Question nine: Does Google in Education prioritize certain types of learnings over others? What concepts or subjects are more important to address?
We focus on providing the right tools and resources to enable and empower schools.
Question ten: Does Google provide any solution to the modern dilemma of “Where did the creativity go?”
Yes for sure. Across Google there are many initiatives addressing this, but two related to education are the Google Science Fair and Doodle 4 Google. Both encourage students to think outside the box, be creative, and solve real problems.
Question eleven: What aspect(s) of working for Google resonate most with who you are (your upbringing, personal values or life goals)?
I want to change the world for the better. Google has the scale to be able to do that, and working for Google on projects that are close to my heart allows me to have that kind of impact. Education is a very personal issue for me. My mom is a teacher, and I grew up seeing her passion and love for her profession but also the frustrations about unequal access. My own brother is not a traditional learner and struggled through school. Seeing the way technology gives every student a chance to succeed inspires me.
Question twelve: What would you say to the 15-year-old you, knowing what you know now about life?
This is such a powerful question. Do what makes YOU happy, not what you think will make your mom and dad, your teacher, or your friends happy. With that in mind, also always think about how what you do will impact others and act from a place of love and making the world a better place. You know those mean girls who don’t like you? Well now you have the best friends in the world, and they love you for who you are. Don’t be discouraged. Dream BIG. Follow those giant dreams.
Question thirteen: You’ll be leading a design thinking workshop for us on January 25. How did that come to your mind as a way to engage girls around impact?
I think hands-on learning experiences are the most powerful. I could stand up at the front of the room and tell you a bunch of stuff, but how much of that would you all remember in a month, a year? This is a group of really bright, driven girls. Giving them a chance to implement real solutions will allow them to gain a new skill set that they can use down the road.
Maggie certainly helped to make this new, challenging experience of organizing a workshop and interviewing the guest speaker enjoyable!
Learn more about Maggie’s mission in Google in Education by joining us at our Design Thinking Workshop (free and open to girls ages 12+) on January 25, 2014 in Redwood City!