Tag Archives: grow with google

How Oscar Mike helps keep injured veterans on the move

I served in the United States Marine Corps for three years. I was deployed in 2001, just after the September 11th attacks, and again in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. After my final deployment, I returned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. But just a few nights after arriving back in the states, I was involved in a car accident that left me paralyzed from the neck down.

The six years following the accident were some of the toughest I’ve ever experienced, and I wasn’t sure what the future might hold for me. I felt like everything had been taken from me, and it was hard not to focus on all the things I could no longer do. But everything changed when I discovered the world of adaptive sports, which let me experience the camaraderie of the military again and the adrenaline rush of competitive sports.

This discovery was a major turning point in my life, and I knew I needed to share these experiences with other veterans like me. But these events are expensive. So my friends and I started the Oscar Mike Foundation to provide funding for wounded, ill or injured veterans to participate in adaptive sports. The foundation is named for a term we used in the military, “Oscar Mike," which means to get “on the move.” To raise money and minimize overhead costs for the foundation, we also started Oscar Mike Apparel, an American-made lifestyle brand that offers T-shirts and activewear through our online store.

Most of our apparel sales happen through our website. With the help of Google Ads and free resources from Grow with Google—like a livestreamed workshop on connecting with customers online—I’ve been able to share our mission with more people around the world. Since 2011, 400 veterans from all around the country have participated in our programs, and we’ve offered more than 1,000 sporting scholarships.

Today, together with Grow with Google and the Google Veterans Network—an internal community of military veterans, service members, civilian allies and family members—we’ll meet with transitioning service members and veterans for a career workshop in New York. There, we’ll offer resume and job search support as they figure out their next moves in civilian life. So many veterans struggle to determine their next steps after leaving the military, and at Oscar Mike, we want to help wounded, ill or injured veterans set new goals and find purpose again.

To learn more about free tools and resources that can help veterans find their next move, visit Grow with Google.

Investing in Oklahoma and across the U.S.

Editor’s Note: This week we’re making some big moves around the $13 billion U.S. investment we announced in February. On Monday, our CFO Ruth Porat was in Michigan to announce an additional investment in our offices in Ann Arbor and Detroit. And tomorrow, we’re breaking ground on a new data center in Midlothian, TX, and expanding our office in Austin.

Today, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was in Oklahoma to announce a $600 million investment to expand our data center in Mayes County, as well as our biggest computer science education grant in Google.org’s history. Read his edited remarks below.

I enjoy visiting the places our data centers call home. I especially love to see the local touches. In the case of Pryor, it’s the mechanical bull in the lobby, which I’m told is a lot of fun. It requires good positioning, strong balance, and sometimes digging in your heels. So, not much different from my day job.

But the real reason I look forward to these visits is the community. It’s a privilege to meet the people who are making Pryor a great place to live and work.

At Google, we are technology optimists. Not because we believe in technology, but because we believe in people. 

The people of Mayes County shared our sense of optimism from the very start. That optimism is why, when Google proposed building a data center here in 2007, you welcomed us with open arms. And that optimism is what’s made it possible for Google to continue our expansion in Pryor in the years since—not once, not twice...but three times. Today’s announcement will make it four.

Pryor is already home to one of Google’s largest data centers in the country. I am pleased to announce that we will be investing another $600 million to expand the data center here and create an additional 100 jobs for the Pryor community. This brings the total investment in Oklahoma to over $3 billion, and total jobs created to more than 500.

It’s part of our $13 billion investment in expanding our data centers across the U.S. This week we also announced new investments in Michigan, and we’re breaking ground on a new data center in Texas.

This national expansion comes at a significant moment for Google. For 21 years we’ve pursued a timeless mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. In that time, we’ve evolved from a company that helps people find answers to a company that helps people throughout their day.

Pryor is a part of our effort to build a more helpful Google for everyone. We’ve spent more than two decades scaling our technical infrastructure to match the growth of information. And we are continuously working to make it more efficient and more reliable.

This site is an important part of our global network of data centers. This network is what powers your searches, your email, all of the photos you store and treasure, and the maps that help you find the fastest way home. And that network includes 13 locations around the world, with new data centers underway in eight additional locations.

It's a privilege to serve billions of people every day. With that privilege comes a big responsibility to ensure that information truly serves everyone. Every day, millions of Americans go online to find answers, learn new skills, and grow their businesses. Two years ago, Google announced Grow with Google, a new effort to expand economic opportunity to all Americans. A big way we do this is through digital skills training. Our partnership with Goodwill is already helping thousands of Oklahomans learn new skills and find jobs.

We’re also excited to help young people learn computer science to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. Since 2017, we’ve been working with the National 4-H Council to create a computer science curriculum.

Today we are pleased to be able to build on this work with a $6 million grant to support computer science education in 4-H chapters across the country. This is our largest ever computer science education grant from Google.org. It will help ensure that young people in Oklahoma and 25 other states have access to the curriculum, training, and devices to learn and grow their coding skills. I look forward to joining students to do some coding later today!

Thank you to everyone who has a hand in keeping our data center running smoothly. We’re proud to call Oklahoma home, and look forward to Pryor being a vital part of the engine that powers the internet for years to come.

With 4-H, helping more students learn computer science

As our CEO Sundar Pichai announced today in my home state of Oklahoma, we’re making our largest ever computer science education grant from Google.org to support 4-H, the largest youth development organization in the country. This $6 million grant—made as part of Grow with Google's efforts to ensure that everyone has access to future opportunities—will help provide more than 1 million youth across the country with computer science skills, plus computer science training for their educators.

4-H is a second home for students like Decklan Thomas, a high schooler from Bruceton Mills, West Virginia (population 86). Following three generations in the trucking industry, Decklan was certain that he was on a path to becoming a diesel mechanic. The field was appealing not only because of family tradition, but also because it allowed him to do something he liked: identifying problems and fixing them.

One day, he learned about computer science through his local 4-H chapter. He didn’t even know he was coding at first—it just felt like solving a puzzle on the computer. As he began to do more coding, he quickly saw the parallels between the skills you need to be a mechanic and the computer science he was learning at 4-H. He says, “You see something wrong, then fix it—and end up with something amazing.” Decklan is still enthusiastic about becoming a diesel mechanic, but he’s now also exploring other opportunities like becoming a biomedical engineer or even going into the Navy.

I know the impact of these types of programs because I grew up going to my local 4-H chapter in Oklahoma. I loved learning about animal care, teamwork, and practical farm skills—a hallmark of 4-H. Like Decklan, those skills inspired me to learn how to fix things—I went to the Oklahoma State University and went on to work for Google here in Pryor. And I still fix things: the servers in our data centers that power our internet products for people across the country.


Decklan and I are representative of the many students across the United States who lack access to computer science learning opportunities. It’s estimated that computer science-related jobs are created at nearly four times the rate of other jobs, but students in small towns are less likely to have access to classes and clubs at school compared to suburban students, and their parents are less likely to know about CS opportunities outside of school.


Together with 4-H, we believe in the potential of technology–and youth—to change and improve our lives, industries and communities. Today’s Google.org grant will provide 4-H educators with the resources they need to ensure that students can access the skills they’ll need—both technical and non-technical—to create the technology that may improve our future.

From offices to libraries, building momentum in Michigan

Walking down bustling Woodward Avenue in Detroit on Sunday night, I was impressed by the vitality and transformation of the city. This momentum across Michigan is why we've continued to grow our offices there for the past 13 years. Our workforce is growing at a faster rate outside the Bay Area than in it, and with an office in Ann Arbor and a new office in Detroit, we greatly value being a part of the community in both cities.

Yesterday, I visited Michigan to announce we’re investing $17 million to expand our offices in Detroit and Ann Arbor. The result will be a combined total of 260,000 square feet in office space, giving us the capacity to significantly increase our local workforce in the coming years.

As we continue to grow in Michigan, we want to help people in the state have the opportunity to learn the skills they need to succeed in the digital economy. So I also spent the morning participating in Grow with Google workshops at Taylor Community Library, west of Detroit, where community members came out to learn digital skills, from making a professional presentation to helping their businesses grow online.

Across the country, we’ve teamed up with public libraries and nonprofits that are helping to close the skills divide. The Grow with Google Partner Program makes it easier for these local partners to get the latest resources and materials to teach digital skills; since our launch in January, more than 5,000 organizations have joined the program, with 200 based in Michigan.

In Taylor, I met librarians and nonprofit leaders who have used resources from the Partner Program to train Michiganders in digital skills. Kim Schott, Chapter Chair of Detroit SCORE, has mentored small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout 40 years of working experience. Today, she’s one of Grow with Google’s most active partners and has conducted dozens of trainings to help local small businesses grow by increasing their presence online.

We've held Grow with Google workshops in more than 60 cities and towns across the country since 2017, and one thing is clear: Our partners are leading the way in connecting entrepreneurs, educators, students and job-seekers with digital skills training that can help them succeed. Through our partnerships and our own capital investments, we’re excited to be a part of the momentum in Michigan.

Preparing students and teachers for the jobs of the future

49-year-old primary school teacher Daiva Gaučytė is always looking for inspiration to make her computer science lessons more fun and relevant. But with minimal computer science knowledge, there was only so much she could do to teach her students this critical skill. When she heard about a course funded by Google and run by the Lithuanian Computer Society, she decided to give it a shot—now Daiva confidently uses CS Unplugged and engaging techniques to effectively teach her students.

It's becoming more important for teachers like Daiva to incorporate digital skills in the classroom. In fact, the European Commission predicts that in the next 10 to 15 years, 90 percent of all jobs will require some level of digital skills. In order to equip today's students for future jobs and opportunities, we’re giving €413,000 to 24 universities and nonprofits this year. With this funding, these institutions will deliver localized computer science professional development programs to 22,000 primary and secondary school teachers.

GwG EMEA 2019_Teachers.jpg

These grants are part of Grow with Google’s mission to create more economic opportunity for everyone and our commitment to helping an additional one million people in Europe find a job, grow their business or build their career by 2020.

Since 2009, our Computer Science Education grants have enabled nonprofits to provide professional development opportunities for teachers across the region. To date, we saw grant awardees provide professional learning opportunities for 34,500 teachers at all levels, which in turn reached more than 800,000 students.

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Students at Cheshire East Libraries UK, ECW awardee 2018

In addition to these professional development grants, we’re partnering with the European Commission for the sixth consecutive year to offer grants during the EU Code Week, which brings coding and digital literacy to 36,000 school children in Europe in a fun and engaging way. These grants amount to €186,000, given to 33 schools and nonprofits in Europe who will deliver computer science hands-on activities for 236,000 students.

In 2018 we funded 25 organizations in 21 countries, impacting 77,000 students. In the words of one such organization, Wesseling Digital from Germany, the grant "has helped us create three new courses for children and teens in our hometown of Wesseling. We are happy that we received the chance to develop new courses, which are now growing ever since we receive the initial grant. Every year we celebrate this by participating in the European Code of Week and will continue to deliver our part in improving the digital skills of kids in our region."

To encourage and help more organizations like Wesseling Digital, we’ll keep working with our partners—schools, research institutions, NGOs and more—to deliver training that helps create more opportunity for all. Here’s a full list of the 2019 awardees.

Helping businesses grow across all 50 U.S. states

Small businesses play a vital role in American life. From the restaurants that serve as places to gather over a meal, to the bookshops and hardware stores that treat customers like family and sponsor local soccer teams, small businesses are the backbone of our communities.

So I’m really proud of the work Google does to help local businesses across the United States use the power of the web to grow and thrive. Our U.S. Economic Impact Report, released today, shows that in 2018, our Search and Advertising tools helped create $335 billion in economic activity for millions of businesses, website publishers, and nonprofits across the country—up from $283 billion in 2017. Each month, we drive over 1 billion connections for businesses nationwide, like phone calls or online reservations. We’re also connecting businesses with customers overseas: in fact, in 2018 more than 35 percent of clicks for U.S. business advertising on Google came from places outside the U.S.

We’re also working with business owners in their own hometowns through Grow with Google, our initiative to create economic opportunity for everyone. Since 2017, Googlers have traveled to more than 50 cities around the country, training over 3 million Americans in digital skills to help them prepare for work, find jobs and grow their businesses. Digital skills are a must-have in today’s economy, and our goal is to ensure that every business owner has the skills they need to succeed.

One of those business owners is Sara Irvani, who runs Okabashi, an American footwear company her family founded after arriving to the U.S. during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Okabashi is located in Buford, Georgia, a small town that was once a major American shoemaking hub. While other American shoe manufacturers have moved their operations abroad, Sara is committed to keeping her business in Buford and bringing economic opportunity to her hometown and her 200 employees.

To make this possible, Sara has made a big investment in bolstering the company’s digital presence. It’s a smart decision—data shows that small businesses that use advanced digital tools, such as online advertising and data analytics, experienced revenue growth in the previous year that was nearly four times as high. In Sara’s case, she uses Google Analytics to better understand the kind of shoe designs her customers are most excited about, and those insights help her team design new products that keep people coming back to purchase Okabashi shoes. She’s also able to reach customers—both here and abroad—by using Google Ads. Now, 64 percent of the company’s online sales come in through the platform. To date, her company has sold 35 million pairs of shoes to customers in 11 countries.

Some of my other favorite stories from the 2018 report include how Google employees have  helped Amini’s, a specialty furniture store in St. Louis build a new website and a robust e-commerce strategy. In rural New Hampshire, Fuller’s Sugarhouse was able to share its maple syrup with customers in Switzerland, France, Australia, Brazil and Mexico. We’ve also helped many veteran-owned businesses, nonprofits, and digital businesses to make Google products and programs work for them.

While the U.S. Economic Impact Report only focuses on activity in the U.S., we’re working with partners to expand economic opportunity all over the world. Last week we announced that Grow with Google has helped to train more than 10 million with digital skills in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and earlier this year, we released a report detailing our impact in Brazil, with more reports to come in other countries later this year.

Supporting the success of businesses, partners, and communities is an important part of our overall vision of building a more helpful Google for everyone. To learn more about how Google can help businesses, go to google.com/economicimpact.

New career tools to help military spouses thrive

Service members aren’t alone in making great sacrifices for the good of our country. Military spouses are the backbone of their families and communities, often serving alongside service members and assuming responsibilities on the homefront. As a military spouse, I’ve experienced the challenges that this life brings. While separated from my husband for two and a half years, I took on all responsibilities for our home and managed several out-of-state moves.

The realities I’ve faced being part of a military family made it incredibly difficult to balance my husband’s military career with my own career goals and aspirations. Military spouses are resilient leaders with diverse perspectives, making them powerful assets to the workplace. To ensure that this community continues to thrive in the workplace, this Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Google is excited to share new initiatives that will empower military spouses to build meaningful careers, wherever they’re located.

According to a 2017 report from Hiring Our Heroes, 16 percent of military spouses are unemployed–a figure that’s four times higher than the national rate. And more than 55 percent are underemployed, working in roles below their abilities or education levels.

Despite this hurdle, there are spouses around the world who’ve built fulfilling careers that fit a military lifestyle. In Durham, North Carolina, the Grow with Google team met Kelly Grivner-Kelly, a military spouse whose frequent moves were holding her back in her job search. This changed when she found a job as a program manager where she can work from home–and stay on remotely after her next move.

In Fayetteville, North Carolina, the team met Krystel Spell, who started the blog Army Wife 101 and founded an influencer agency for military spouses after noticing a lack of resources available to her community. Through flexible career paths and entrepreneurial endeavours, more military spouses are pursuing their career goals, becoming breadwinners, and taking their work with them from place to place. And technology is making it easier.

Last year, Grow with Google developed tools and resources for the U.S. military community. Knowing the important role military spouses play, we want to continue using technology to address the unique challenges military spouses face as they build their careers.

Our improved experience within jobs on Google Search makes it easier to find quality remote jobs. Now, you can search for jobs that match your skill set, like “sales jobs” and filter your location to “work from home” to see a list of relevant job listings that meet your criteria. Remote work requires its own kind of expertise, so we created hands-on training that offers helpful tools and advice to set military spouses up for success in remote jobs. A new course from Google’s Applied Digital Skills program, a free online curriculum for digital skills, helps users learn about workplace collaboration tools like Docs, Calendar and Hangouts. We’ve also added two minicourses specifically for military spouses to the Primer app, a free resource for learning business and marketing skills. These minicourses share tips for transitioning to remote work, working from home and the basics of starting and growing an online business.

To ensure that military spouses across the country can benefit from these tools and resources, we’re supporting two organizations with a long history of supporting military spouses. We’ll be providing a Google.org grant to the Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF) to offer IT training and career guidance to their network. The grant will enable IVMF to provide 1,500 scholarships for the Google IT Support Professional Certificate program, along with professional support and career navigation. Google’s IT Certificate program prepares beginners for entry-level jobs in IT support in about six months. We’ll also be partnering with Blue Star Families, an organization that provides support to military families, including career guidance for spouses. Blue Star Families will share our career preparation training with at least 10,000 spouses across its nationwide network of military families.

My vision is that these new resources empower military spouses to build meaningful careers, regardless of their location or balance of responsibilities. I hope these new efforts ease some of the career challenges military spouses often face as they plan for and build toward their futures. To learn more about our free tools and resources to help military spouses build flexible careers, visit grow.google/militaryspouses.

New career tools to help military spouses thrive

Service members aren’t alone in making great sacrifices for the good of our country. Military spouses are the backbone of their families and communities, often serving alongside service members and assuming responsibilities on the homefront. As a military spouse, I’ve experienced the challenges that this life brings. While separated from my husband for two and a half years, I took on all responsibilities for our home and managed several out-of-state moves.

The realities I’ve faced being part of a military family made it incredibly difficult to balance my husband’s military career with my own career goals and aspirations. Military spouses are resilient leaders with diverse perspectives, making them powerful assets to the workplace. To ensure that this community continues to thrive in the workplace, this Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Google is excited to share new initiatives that will empower military spouses to build meaningful careers, wherever they’re located.

According to a 2017 report from Hiring Our Heroes, 16 percent of military spouses are unemployed–a figure that’s four times higher than the national rate. And more than 55 percent are underemployed, working in roles below their abilities or education levels.

Despite this hurdle, there are spouses around the world who’ve built fulfilling careers that fit a military lifestyle. In Durham, North Carolina, the Grow with Google team met Kelly Grivner-Kelly, a military spouse whose frequent moves were holding her back in her job search. This changed when she found a job as a program manager where she can work from home–and stay on remotely after her next move.

In Fayetteville, North Carolina, the team met Krystel Spell, who started the blog Army Wife 101 and founded an influencer agency for military spouses after noticing a lack of resources available to her community. Through flexible career paths and entrepreneurial endeavours, more military spouses are pursuing their career goals, becoming breadwinners, and taking their work with them from place to place. And technology is making it easier.

Last year, Grow with Google developed tools and resources for the U.S. military community. Knowing the important role military spouses play, we want to continue using technology to address the unique challenges military spouses face as they build their careers.

Our improved experience within jobs on Google Search makes it easier to find quality remote jobs. Now, you can search for jobs that match your skill set, like “sales jobs” and filter your location to “work from home” to see a list of relevant job listings that meet your criteria. Remote work requires its own kind of expertise, so we created hands-on training that offers helpful tools and advice to set military spouses up for success in remote jobs. A new course from Google’s Applied Digital Skills program, a free online curriculum for digital skills, helps users learn about workplace collaboration tools like Docs, Calendar and Hangouts. We’ve also added two minicourses specifically for military spouses to the Primer app, a free resource for learning business and marketing skills. These minicourses share tips for transitioning to remote work, working from home and the basics of starting and growing an online business.

To ensure that military spouses across the country can benefit from these tools and resources, we’re supporting two organizations with a long history of supporting military spouses. We’ll be providing a Google.org grant to the Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF) to offer IT training and career guidance to their network. The grant will enable IVMF to provide 1,500 scholarships for the Google IT Support Professional Certificate program, along with professional support and career navigation. Google’s IT Certificate program prepares beginners for entry-level jobs in IT support in about six months. We’ll also be partnering with Blue Star Families, an organization that provides support to military families, including career guidance for spouses. Blue Star Families will share our career preparation training with at least 10,000 spouses across its nationwide network of military families.

My vision is that these new resources empower military spouses to build meaningful careers, regardless of their location or balance of responsibilities. I hope these new efforts ease some of the career challenges military spouses often face as they plan for and build toward their futures. To learn more about our free tools and resources to help military spouses build flexible careers, visit grow.google/militaryspouses.

Grow with Google: ten million people trained, here’s what’s next

This year, we’re celebrating 30 years of the world wide web, at a moment when half the world's population is online. While the web creates more opportunity than ever before, it's also changing the way we work. In the next 10 to 15 years, 90 percent of all jobs will require some level of digital skills, leading to a skills gap. New jobs will be created from technology, but it’s also estimated that 14 percent could be replaced by automation and another 32 percent are set to change radically in terms of their scope and focus.  

That's why we launched Grow with Google: free training, products and tools designed to help people find a job, advance their career or grow their business. In 2015, I was excited (and nervous) to announce our goal of training one million Europeans by the end of 2016. At the time, we didn’t know if we could reach as many as one million people.

We’ve been blown away by the demand and and inspired by the achievements of so many of the people who took the training. Four years later, Grow with Google has reached job seekers, business owners, teachers, developers and students in more than 80 countries around the world. As of today, we've trained five million people in Europe and five million people across Africa and the Middle East, bringing us to a total of 10 million people who have participated in training across these regions alone.

Graphic 10 million

10 million people trained across Europe, the Middle East and Africa 

This training is making a difference. Since 2016, 45 percent of Digital Workshop trainees reported they’d found a job, accelerated their career or grown their business by hiring new staff or increasing revenue (from IPSOS research). In Europe, 48 percent of the people trained were women; a quarter were unemployed and 90 percent of business trainees came from small businesses. This scale of impact has led to recognition and awards from the European Commission and others.  


I’ve attended many training sessions and events in different countries over the last four years. I’ve heard from people like Segun Abodunrin from Nigeria, who went from being unemployed to founding his own agency as a result of our Digital Skills for Africa training. And we’ve seen success stories from people like Loubna, Donia and Youcef, three chefs who set up the catering company Meet my Mama with help from our French Grow with Google program Google Ateliers Numériques. They’ve now provided catering at more than 350 business events, creating work for 30 women.


So many of these stories show how anyone with internet access and the right set of skills can create a global business or start a new career. We want to do more for them. So we’ve committed to help an additional one million more people in Europe find a job, grow their business or build their career by 2020 as well as training an additional 10 million people in Africa.


To make that a reality, we need to do more to help people access training. Research tells us that people in jobs most at risk from automation do less training than those at low risk, so we’re expanding our programs and offerings to better reach those people. This includes partnering with Trade Unions in the Netherlands to reach workers in logistics and transportation, helping women build business confidence with IAmRemarkable and using AI to help people find jobs with our Recommendation Engine. We’re also continuing to build products that help people find a job, attract new customers, expand globally and harness the power of AI.


Nothing that Grow with Google aims to do in the coming years would be possible without the expertise of our many partners. We’re grateful to them all, from e-learning experts like FutureLearn and Udacity, to collaboration with many universities, governments, chambers of commerce, city authorities, unions and others. We’ll be working with our partners to develop new types of training to provide the right skills for tomorrow’s workforce. According to the latest World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, these skills range from technology design and programming to critical thinking and emotional intelligence.


Governments, businesses, educators and communities will need to work ever more closely to equip workers for success and to create new opportunities for work to benefit society. It’s our shared responsibility to help make technology and the web work for everyone. At Google, we’ve learned so much from training ten million bright and determined people and we’re inspired by their achievements to play our part for the long term.

Why “healthy” materials are key to Google’s new buildings

As a New Yorker, I’m struck by California’s  natural beauty. When I visit Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, I walk along the sidewalk and exclaim things like, “Is that wild sage?” (My coworkers find it amusing.)The tree-lined scenery of the San Francisco Bay Area gives some much-needed refreshment to my senses, which tend to be dulled by subway cars and honking car horns.

When I’m in the Bay Area, I often wonder how two completely different worlds—one of computer chips and algorithms and another of sprawling shoreline and wildlife—can coexist peacefully in one place. When I spoke with Robin Bass, Sustainability Lead for Google’s Real Estate and Workplace Services team, for our latest She Word interview, she shed light on how Google approaches this question every day, and what we’re doing to make sure we give back to the land we build on.

How would you describe your job at a dinner party?

I usually refer to myself as a recovering architect. I’ve worked in architecture for 20 years and sustainability has always been my focus. At Google, my responsibility is to ensure that our buildings provide healthy spaces for the people in them and that we leave the spaces between the buildings better than we found them.

How did you initially become interested in sustainability?

When I was an architecture student, it was the only direction that made sense to me. In school, the culture was to critique. If you don’t have a strong point of view about why you’re doing things it can come across as “because it’s pretty,” and that’s architecture at its worst. Instead, leading with “this is the way the sun moves across the site,” or “this is the way water moves in and out of the site” is an irrefutable argument. There’s no stronger footing than orienting your buildings for people and nature, so sustainability was my go-to design aesthetic.

Have you found strong female influences or mentors in your career?

Architecture is very male dominated—and I would even go so far as to say it’s white male dominated—but sustainability is different. I was able to find so many female mentors in the industry who shared the same alignment toward the future about the world we wanted to create. It was life-changing for me. Now I’m at a point in my career where I can buoy the next generation, and diversity and inclusion in particular is a huge priority for me. In the same way that landscapes have greater resilience when they are diverse, the community of designers and builders creating those landscapes should be inclusive and diverse as well.

How did these sustainability elements play out in some of your recent projects at Google’s offices, like Charleston East, Bay View and Spruce Goose?

The most sustainable building is the one you don’t build, so at Spruce Goose in the Los Angeles area, using an old airplane hangar rather than building a new office is capitalizing on the carbon that has already been invested there, and anyone who walks in is struck by the magical and unusual space.

At Charleston East and Bay View in Mountain View, our team is pursuing the Living Building Challenge, which stipulates that a building should exist on its site like a flower in a field. It’s all about net positive energy, waste and water, which is radical, aspirational and really hard to accomplish. These two buildings have a common design—both roof structures are unique, which makes the interior spaces remarkable—but they have different sustainability goals because of where they’re located, even though they are just a few miles apart.

Charleston East’s goal is about healthy materials. We’re vetting every product that comes onto the site against a red list of chemicals, and we’re working toward net positive waste, which means integrating waste back into the production of new materials instead of sending it to a landfill after one use. Bay View backs up close to the San Francisco Bay, so we’re pursuing net positive water. The goal is to have no connection to a central plumbing utility or a sewer; all of the water on that site will come from a closed loop.

What is one habit that makes you successful?

I am genuinely curious about people. When I’m sitting across a table from someone who doesn’t share my worldview, I find it’s important to be really curious about who they are, what motivates them and what’s hard for them so we can find common ground. You can turn someone who is not an advocate into your biggest supporter by authentically wanting to know them.

What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?

Explore! Don’t be afraid of trying something that you ultimately don’t like. Failure is a really great feedback mechanism, and it’s not about how many times you fail, it’s about getting back up and sharpening all the tools you’re bringing to the table because the world needs you, and it’s never needed you more.