Author Archives: Aaron Brindle

Women at Google: Meet Nicola Yap

For Women's History Month, we're profiling some of the powerful, dynamic and creative Canadian women at Google.

How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech?
I like to call myself an information untangler, but my official title is Technical Writer! Technical writers create documentation to clearly explain complex or technical information. A few examples of this are hardware manuals, instructions for medical equipment, or help for online banking software. At Google, I write documentation for software developers and other IT professionals who use Google Cloud software.

Was there something specific that pushed you toward your career in tech?
At an early age, my dad introduced me to computers, and it instantly fueled a passion for exploring and problem solving. When I started taking tech writing courses, I quickly realized it was a good fit for me. Instead of doing a summer internship in translation, my professor suggested that I try one in tech writing. While it was a new territory, I ended up loving it. It was so positive that I ended up staying part-time with the company as an intern for two more semesters, while I finished my degree and the rest of the technical writing program. My real-world experience cemented my decision to stay in tech writing.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The projects I work on span multiple product teams, and support both internal and external users which means there are a lot of stakeholders. To ensure customers are successful with our products, I collaborate across these teams so that we can work together to resolve inconsistencies, ambiguity, and differences in view.

What is your favourite part of the job?
I love technology, and I love to teach. Technical writing has combined my two loves, and challenges me every day to simplify technology and complex systems to make them easy to understand, and fun to use.

What is your secret power that makes you successful?
My desire to constantly seek more. I'm always looking for ways to make new connections between people and ideas so that we can build great things together.

What advice would you give to women pursuing a career in technology?
Consider everything you can bring to the table and not just the specific subjects you learned in school.

I remember being frustrated with a programming class in high school and being disheartened because it didn't match the joy I felt exploring my computer at home. So I never considered software as a career path. Then in university, I stumbled across technical writing when I saw that it was a requirement for my translation degree. Discovering the tech writing program was a turning point for me, and helped me realize that there are so many different ways to contribute to technology that you may not have considered. Asking questions and exploring can lead to a career path you may not have known exists!

What inspires you in your career?
I am truly inspired by the amazing people I get to work with every day. And I'm excited about the many opportunities we have to help reach and mentor the next generation considering careers in tech.

Is there someone that inspires you?
Two things come to mind when you ask this question. The first is my cousin. Simply put, she’s one of those people that is always positive and open to new experiences. She goes outside of her comfort zone, tries new things, and is open to learning. I love to think of her as someone who never lost the curiosity we all have as a child and that’s an amazing quality. Her openness and way of thinking inspires me.

The second thing is an experience. In 2012, I had some personal things going on, I was in a role that I was frustrated with and I really needed inspiration. At the same time, my husband had friends that were looking at starting a PyCon conference in Canada. I joined the board for the inaugural conference. At a time when I really needed to be inspired and needed an outlet, the enthusiasm and dedication of the PyCon Canada organizers got me excited again. It gave me strength and I was enthusiastic about building something to support the developer community in Canada.

Tell us about a project that you're proud of!
I’m passionate about helping people to work productively and be at their best. When you join Google and go through orientation, many of the roles offer role-specific training. However, technical writers didn’t have this personalized experience. Each team did their own writer onboarding, which created an inconsistent experience and longer ramp up times for some writers. I saw an opportunity in my first few months to make a change. I gathered some like-minded colleagues and we developed training that we now deliver to incoming writers.

Women at Google: Meet Natacha Mainville

For Women's History Month, we're profiling some of the powerful, dynamic and creative Canadian women at Google.

For Natacha Mainville, innovation is in her DNA. Coming from a family of engineers, she’s always been enthused by problem-solving and critical thinking. She’s harnessed these qualities into a rewarding career in artificial intelligence.

Throughout her career, she’s led the charge on transformational programs. She touts these experiences as monumental moments that have helped her to identify ways to adapt work environments so that women can grow to their fullest potential.

She credits her success and desire to help women reach their full potential, to her work and home life. When I ask her what brunch is like at her home, she admits that she’s often amazed when she hears her 8-year old twin girls use words like “neural networks” and “deep learning” - something that naturally happens when both your parents work in AI! To Natacha, it’s two more reasons to keep breaking barriers for women in tech.

How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech?

I would start by polling the table (polling - a research instinct!) to know how many people have heard of artificial intelligence (AI). If there’s some recognition around the room, I would say I work with a team of brilliant AI researchers and engineers to push the boundaries of science.

But - if I’m met with many blank stares, I might instead say that I’m part of a global research team called Google Brain, that’s focused on research within the artificial intelligence space. Our goal is to improve people’s lives, and we empower researchers with the freedom to do ambitious, fundamental, and open machine learning research at Google. We foster strong connections and collaborations with academia, and explore research in various areas from visual understanding to arts to natural language understanding.

Was there something specific that pushed you toward your career in tech?

I grew up in a family of engineers - my dad and brother are both computer engineers. I also married an engineer! Seeing this field up close at home made it easier for me to consider a career in tech. I originally chose to focus in computer engineering because it’s what I was exposed to, but I later found where I could better fit and uniquely add value.

You mentioned that seeing a career path at home helped you to choose yours. How important do you think that is for young girls?

I think it is imperative for girls to see and know role models in the tech space in order to visualize that career opportunity. My passion is finding ways to introduce young children to careers in STEM, and consider the field as an option. In my previous work before Google I was the CIO at TandemLaunch inc., a deep tech startup incubator and was inspired to co-found a startup called Young Ladies in Tech. Our mission was to introduce girls to tech roles like software engineer, mechanical engineer, AI engineer and robotics. I still remember meeting a young girl who was 11 years old, who told me that her councillor suggested she pursue a career in teaching because she was a girl. After seeing our videos on different roles in tech, she asked me if it was too late for her. To her and to everyone - it is never too late to explore a career in tech and challenge yourself.

What do you want to see more of, when it comes to getting girls into STEM?

I think continuing to create avenues and opportunities for young girls to see and explore a career in tech and AI. An exciting project I’m currently working on is a collaboration with Curium to launch an AI Hub for youth.
Working with experts in the field, we created fun and engaging videos that talk about AI in relatable ways for youth. The hub also includes worksheets for educators and is now live in schools in Quebec. We’re currently working on creating an English version so that we can educate and raise AI awareness in classrooms coast to coast. Stay tuned for more!

Let’s talk about AI. Is AI the next big thing?

We interact with AI in so many different ways regularly, people don’t even realize it. Something as simple as receiving suggested language while you’re typing emails is AI in action!
For me what’s most exciting is seeing how AI is producing significant breakthroughs that are solving some of the world’s greatest challenges. We recently released research around using AI to improve breast cancer screening. That’s only one example of the ways in which AI research will impact this generation!

What is the most challenging part of your job?

When the Google Brain team started, it was growing exponentially every year, and expanding across the globe. We now have 12 locations around the world, and a key part of my role is to build bridges and make sure our teams are collaborating effectively to maximize our impact. When you consider different languages, time zones, interests and projects, this can be tough! But it’s a challenge I enjoy every day, and the stronger our community becomes, the better our collaboration and research outputs will be.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

My job is AWESOME. I love being able to help our researchers and engineers consider new ways to apply their research, or grow their research agenda and teams. Not to mention, I get to work with some of the most brilliant scientists in the world, including Canadians Samy Bengio and Hugo Larochelle.

What is your secret power that makes you successful?

I think emotional intelligence and operational experience at scale are huge strengths of mine. I work on a team of highly skilled technical experts and scientists, so bringing a strategic approach to the team’s operations and growth, as well as empathy when navigating different research priorities and the people leading them is critical. Something as simple as offering praise, understanding different strengths of different team members, or enhancing communication to favour collaboration can create a stronger work culture.

What's one of the best pieces of advice you've ever gotten?

Undoubtedly the best advice I’ve gotten is ‘who you work for matters’.

Make sure that you have a manager who inspires you, helps you grow, and advocates for you and your work. This can make a world of a difference to your growth, as well as your success. When interviewing for a new role, remember it is a two way interview. The organization is assessing you, but you should also be assessing to see if this organization is the right place for you. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions to determine if you align to the organization’s culture and values and if it’s a place that will inspire you to do your best work.

Women at Google: Meet Nicole Bell

For Women's History Month, we're profiling some of the powerful, dynamic and creative Canadian women at Google.

Nicole Bell is paving the way for women in communications. She holds a global role in communications for YouTube. As a talented leader and expert communicator, she’s aware of the opportunity she has to pay it forward and help propel other women’s success. And that’s just what she’s doing - giving women the tools to break barriers and have difficult conversations.

As she advocates for the next generation of communication practitioners, she’s also showing her daughter that you can define your own success. When I ask her what she wants her daughter to know as she thinks about her future in the workforce, it’s simple: find a career that allows you to be yourself and lean into your strengths, and success will follow.

How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech?
I’m part of YouTube’s global PR team, telling the incredible and inspiring stories of the vast array of people around the world who earn their living making YouTube videos. My goal is to help nurture the creative ecosystem and show people around the world that YouTube is a home for them, no matter their experience or background.

How did you find your career path to Communications?
It was pure luck. Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a lawyer or a judge. I always assumed I’d go to law school, but after graduating (with a degree in English and Political Science), I decided to take some time off before grad school. Naturally, I started to apply for jobs including an office admin role. I remember the HR specialist thought I’d be a better for a corporate communications role, and so I accepted it and never looked back.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Helping people understand that making videos on YouTube isn’t just a hobby, it’s a real career. But it’s also a highlight of my role, because I get to interact with YouTube Creators big and small and get to showcase their success.

You undeniably have one of the coolest jobs! I mean who else can say they browse YouTube as a part of their job? Are there any women on YouTube that inspire you?
Yes, there are so many!

The first Creator is Aysha Harun. I met her when she was in university and was just starting her YouTube channel as a way to express herself creatively. As a black Muslim woman, Aysha didn’t see herself represented in the traditional beauty industry and so she turned to YouTube to change that norm. I’ve loved getting to watch Aysha grow and evolve over the years, but what I admire the most is her ability to simply be herself, and her success followed.

Next up, is the trio of women behind How to Cake It. While everyone might recognize Yolanda Gampp as the face of the channel, Connie Cantardi and Jocelyn Mercer are the two other amazing women behind the brand. These three business women have expanded their company to now include a line of products and cookbooks! They’re also strong women business owners who have grown tremendously and now employ other women.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
There is something so rewarding in seeing anyone from any walk of life find a home for themselves within the YouTube community. Sometimes that takes empowering a group of people or even just one person, to see their careers within this medium. The magical thing about Creators is that they not only inspire us to think differently but they inspire the entire community at large.

What is your secret power that makes you successful?
I try to live by the mantra of being "happy to be here, easy to work with". When people want to work with you, you can make magic happen! Being open, honest, interested, passionate and listening to my colleagues, YouTube creators, members of the broader entertainment industry, I grow each and every day. This helps me stay focused and locked in, year in and year out.

What advice would you give to women pursuing a career in technology?
Not just in technology, but in any industry - ask for more money. Even if you think you're ok with what's being offered, ask for more. As women, we all need to work on flexing the muscle of negotiation! You might not get what you ask for, but we need to stop being afraid to ask.

I love that! Too often women are accepting the initial offer, even when we know our value is more. But this topic can be tough to navigate, what advice do you have for someone breaching this conversation for the first time?
This is an area where women can really help each other. Be a confidant, a source of truth. Previously in my career, I’ve been told not to discuss salaries and I think this does women a disservice. How are you supposed to know if you’re being fairly compensated if you don’t have any insight into the spectrum of compensation? And because of this, I’ve tried to be very open about my pay history to help other women determine fair compensation.

It’s also really important to understand that you need to show why you’re worth what you’re asking for. Do your homework, go into the conversation with facts on how you’ve impacted the business. It’s harder to dispute compensation when you’re showing your direct impact on the business.

Was there something specific that pushed you toward your career in tech?
I’ve been really fortunate to be exposed to a number of industries through my work at various PR agencies including working on Google (before joining internally). What I love the most about working in tech, is that as communicators, we’re tasked with taking things that are often difficult to understand and need to find a way of storytelling to a broader audience, making it digestible.

What inspires you in your career?
The people I work with! Not only the people on my team and in my office, but folks across YouTube and Google. We’re so lucky to get to work with such a diverse group of people from near and far, who have accomplished backgrounds and push me to be better every day.

Having worked with you I can say you inspire a lot of people, myself included! So I want to know, who inspires you?
There are a lot of women (and men) that inspire me, I’m really lucky to have close friends that I really admire and Dr. Laurie Petrou is definitely someone that stands out. She’s a professor at Ryerson University, a novelist and mother to two busy boys. But as crazy busy as her life gets, her ability to stay self-motivated impresses me. I think it’s often easy to use life and being busy as an excuse, but not for Laurie. The woman writes and edits her novels from the bus, the sidelines of a soccer game, anywhere that she can grab a few minutes. Her drive is incredibly inspiring.

Tell us about a project that you're proud of
FarmTube! This is exactly what it sounds like - the community of farming and agriculture channels that has sprung up on YouTube. We have a team at YouTube that follows new trends as they arise, and the rapid popularity of FarmTube has been a major theme over the past year, all over the world.
I love FarmTube because it’s helping to bridge the distance between city and country, allowing people worldwide to understand the work that goes into farming. Some channels focus on providing a slice of life on the farm, others teach how to raise crops and livestock or fix machinery, and some take you on a journey of starting a farm from scratch. One of my favourite farming Creators is Sandi Brock, who is a sheep farmer from Ontario.

International Women’s Day spotlight on 6 Canadian YouTube creators

We’re lucky to have so many amazing women YouTube creators on our platform who offer a diversity of perspectives that you can’t find anywhere else.

On International Women’s Day, we want to shout out some of the Canadian YouTubers who inspire us each and every day with their creative and entrepreneurial spirit. They’re making a positive difference in the world and embracing success on their own terms.

The Sorry Girls

Becky Wright and Kelsey MacDermaid, a.k.a. The Sorry Girls, are two Canadian YouTube entrepreneurs who have paved the way for other women creators in the DIY space. With millions of  subscribers and billions of views, their lifestyle content educates and empowers young women to ‘do-it-themselves’, whether that’s making a tool purchase or renovating an apartment on a budget.

What are you most proud of from your work on YouTube ? (Kelsey)
There are honestly so many things that make me proud when I take a step back and look at my YouTube career. But here are just a few: being able to employ recent graduates and foster talent, challenging myself and testing my comfort zone, and being able to have a sustainable career on YouTube for a whole decade.

Who is another female entrepreneur that inspires you? (Kelsey)
The first person that comes to my mind is Rachel Metz, she’s a power tool queen and truly just doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. It’s inspiring.

What is one important lesson learned from being a YouTube entrepreneur? (Becky)
One of the best lessons we've learned, that continues to guide us, is to "stay true to who we are". I think it's our authentic passion for what we do that keeps people engaged in our content and acts as a great compass to rely on when making decisions. If the ideas and goals are something we're excited about, regardless of trends, viewers will notice and we'll usually find success!

What is one piece of advice you'd want to give to other female YouTube entrepreneurs? (Becky)
There is a space for you! Whether you think you're not the right "demographic" for the type of content you want to make, or think that topic may already be too saturated, there is always a unique spin waiting to be told and your voice needs to be heard!

Aysha Harun

After years of dabbling with beauty products, Aysha Harun created her YouTube channel as a way to try out her favourite beauty and fashion looks. Her channel has an incredibly passionate and loyal following, and it’s no surprise why -- with her fresh content and soft glam looks, Aysha acts a voice for an audience of women who don’t often see themselves reflected in traditional beauty publications.

What are you most proud of from your work on YouTube?
I am most proud of the impact I've been able to make in social media as a visibly Black Muslim Woman. Being able to inspire a very underrepresented group of women to go after their passion and succeed is and always has been my number one goal.

What is one important lesson learned from being a YouTube entrepreneur?
INVEST IN YOURSELF FIRST!! No one will be willing to invest in you if you don't believe in yourself enough to invest in factors that will help you grow on the platform (ie. equipment, conferences, software, product etc.).

What is one piece of advice you'd want to give to other female YouTube entrepreneurs?
Support one another. Collaboration over competition is KEY! You can learn so much from other women and in return you'll both be able to grow and succeed.

Who is another women YouTube creator that inspires you?
Jackie Aina inspires me on the daily. Seeing what she's created for herself as a black female YouTuber inspires me to grind harder. Plus she's incredibly supportive of my content as well and it's refreshing to see someone so successful want to bring others along with her!


WITHWENDY all began in 2010, when Wendy uploaded a YouTube sewing tutorial while completing her business and chemical engineering degrees. Now she inspires over 900,000 subscribers to make their own clothing and discover their style.

What are you most proud of from your work on YouTube?
I love one of my recent videos, which got some really positive audience feedback, where I made four different statement red carpet accessories, complete with a photoshoot and dress rentals from a local business. This video represents a lot of growth for me. I’m creating honest content for my audience about the ups and downs of DIY, instead of trying to present my DIY's in a clean and streamlined style. To me, transparency and human adventure is something I've always loved about YouTube and I'm proud to inspire others through my videos.

What is one piece of advice you'd want to give to other female YouTube entrepreneurs?
There are people out there ready to love you as their online gal pal or big sister, let's make YouTube a great place for us all to hang out and blossom.

Who is another woman YouTube creator that inspires you?
There are so many amazing women on YouTube! Lately it's been Claire from Bon Appétit - I love watching her facial expressions as she gets ideas, makes mistakes, and triumphs. She inspires me to embrace the creative process as much as the end result.

Sheepishly Me

Sandi Brock is a farmer...a sheep farmer to be more specific. On her channel Sheepishly Me, she offers candid insights on her day-to-day exploits as a farmer in Ontario, from shipping fails to sheep chores. Sandi is a shining example of the growing community of farming creators on YouTube who are educating the next generation on the ins and outs of the industry.

What is one piece of advice you'd want to give to other female YouTube entrepreneurs?
Never give up, treat YouTube as a business, and do not feel shame when others may turn on you. Know your why and your audience, and communicate with that audience as much as possible. And ask your audience how you can help them, how you can add value to their lives.

Who is another woman YouTube creator that inspires you?
I watch YouTube for two things: to learn and to be entertained. The two women who have drastically helped me on my YouTube journey are Sunny Lenarduzzi, and more recently Vanessa Lau. But for entertainment, my editing style hero is Emma Chamberlain. And Colleen Ballinger is the one person I feel connected to on a human level… like a long lost friend I would love to grab a coffee with.

Simply Nailogical

If you love nail polish, then chances are you’re already familiar with our next creator, Cristine Rotenberg. With over seven million subscribers, her channel, Simply Nailogical is one of the top nail art channels on YouTube. Cristine is an entrepreneur with a capital 'E": she recently launched her own nail polish line, Holo Taco, bringing delightful holographic colours to her fans in Canada and around the globe.

What is one piece of advice you’d want to give to other female YouTube entrepreneurs?
Don’t let your audience or other people’s perception of your ‘brand’ define you or box you into a single persona. Just because you might make lighthearted comedy videos for entertainment doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of having serious conversations or meaningful thoughts on social issues. You can be both the content you choose to put out and more behind the scenes. Acknowledging that no one else should impose rigid boundaries on your skills and abilities early on will help you navigate through sometimes tough online criticism. Your content can and should change over time as your interests, passions and what you want to share with the world shifts.

Who is another woman YouTube creator that inspires you?
Although she may be 13 years younger than me, Joanna Ceddia inspires me. She shares her experience as a student in university in a way that is endearing, entertaining, and with a touch of comedic apathy about the workload while still offering an underlying message about the importance of education for young people. Creators like Joanna show young people, especially young women, how to have fun, be yourself and not be afraid to be a little silly while also dealing with the very real pressures of school as a young adult and taking your future seriously.

Molly Burke

The inspiring Molly Burke is a 25 year old blind beauty vlogger and motivational speaker from Ontario. Her career in public speaking started at the age of five when she became an ambassador for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, following her diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease. Today, Molly Burke has dedicated her life to sharing her message and inspiring audiences with videos that range from beauty and fashion tutorials to stories about her life and navigating the world as someone who is blind.

What are you most proud of from your work on YouTube?
I’m proud of the awareness I’ve raised, the important conversations I’ve helped start, the people I’ve impacted, and the change I’ve helped create.

What is one important lesson learned from being a YouTube entrepreneur?
You can’t do it alone and it’s okay to rely on others for support in areas where you have “pain points” such as business decisions, editing, or scheduling.

What is one piece of advice you'd want to give to other female YouTube entrepreneurs?
Reach out to your community and ask for support, and support them in return. Be authentic, get involved, and remember that practice makes perfect and everyone starts at the same place - ground zero. One thing I wish I had done and recommend others try is filming a few videos and editing them to get comfortable in front of the camera and get your style and flow down before you make and post your first “real” YouTube video. I feel like this tip could potentially lessen the embarrassment of your first few videos years down the line!

Women at Google: Meet Sara Sabour

For Women's History Month, we're profiling some of the powerful, dynamic and creative Canadian women at Google.

Sara Sabour wants to make an impact in the world. She’s focused on increasing the ability of machine learning, specifically unsupervised. An ambitious goal for some, but as an Artificial Intelligence Research Scientist at Google, she knows how to push the boundaries and think big.

Personally inspired by the late mathematician and Field Medal Winner, Maryam Mirzakhani (Sara and Maryam went to the same high school in Iran), Sara touts Maryam as someone who has inspired her career. And although Sara blushes when I refer to her as a ‘superwoman’, she’s doing the same. Her work and accomplishments are inspiring girls and showing them the magnitude and impact that computer science can have.

How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech?
I work on fundamental science behind artificial intelligence (AI). My work focuses on the ability for computers to observe the world and find the solutions by themselves. My specific research currently focuses more on image data and to increase the ability for computers to process and identify different viewpoints of the same objects.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
As a research scientist, I work at the cutting edge of technology, focused on solving open problems. While this can undoubtedly be exciting, it also presents a challenge. The path forward is not clear at all, there is a high level of uncertainty about what you should try next.

You mentioned uncertainty as the biggest challenge, how do you approach this?
Depending on the situation, there’s a couple of things I do. Sometimes it’s really as simple as talking it out. I’ll consult with my colleagues (oftentimes Geoffrey Hinton), share my thinking and get their perspective. In other situations, I’ll go down the path of exploring the various ideas. This lets me see pretty early on whether some ideas would not work and some might be more promising. What’s really important with this approach is being flexible, fluid and willing to pivot if an idea isn’t coming to fruition the way you envisioned it.

So I can’t help but ask, since you mentioned him. What’s it like to work with Geoffrey Hinton?
He’s definitely someone I look up to, he’s brilliant. He’s also really passionate about his work. His passion extends to those around him and it helps energize me and makes me want to jump in and solve problems. He’s fun to work with, he’s funny and compassionate and I’ve become better at my job by working with him.

What is the most rewarding part/your favourite part of the job?
Because of the field I’m in, I get to see the fruit of my labour and how it impacts others in real world situations. I enjoy watching how a simple programming idea suddenly improves the performance of a task by a huge margin. I also get excited when I see boosts in the general frontier of artificial intelligence by any group. I feel proud of being a member of this scientific community.

What is your secret power/habit that makes you successful?
The ability to focus 100% for several hours straight. Whenever I dive deep into a problem, I get a tremendous performance boost.

That's definitely a superpower! So what’s the secret?
Growing up I was always a bookworm, but while I’d be trying to read, my sister would want to play with me. It was never quiet! That’s how I learned to really block everything out and simply focus. Even today, sometimes I find myself so focused that I don’t notice when someone’s talking to me.

Was there something specific that pushed you toward your career in tech?
My interest in computer science began at a young age, but I didn’t cross paths with machine learning until high school. I was really fortunate that at my high school in Iran, we had the opportunity to be exposed to different courses. During the summer one year, I took two courses - mechanical robotics and software coding. This was when I fell in love with coding.

As a competitive coder and member of the robotics team, I taught my robot to walk and stand with the aid of a machine learning program that used several simulations as input data. I saw the potential machine learning had to advance other fields dramatically—from health and medicine to physics and astronomy. The opportunities were endless. From that moment, I knew I needed to be a part of those advancements.

What inspires you in your career?
The opportunity of AI, and making artificial intelligence solutions that can help us be more efficient with our time and tasks.

What advice would you give to women pursuing a career in technology?
Believe in yourself! Don’t let others determine your confidence. Your gender, race and differences are your strength, own them.

How do you hope to inspire the next generation of girls?
I’d encourage them to be open to exploring new things. I love to think of it as the ‘room of doors’ in Alice in Wonderland. The possibilities with Computer Science are endless. Computer Science gives you the opportunity to help across a variety of fields and teaches you critical thinking skills such as problem solving.

Tell us about a project that you're proud of.
Working on Capsule Networks with Geoffrey Hinton is definitely up there for me! There have been several adaptations of it for medical imaging which makes me excited and proud. We have four published research articles regarding Capsule Networks and were featured in a New York Times article highlighting one of the first iterations of the work.

Your work has been featured in the New York Times, that must be surreal!
It was a big deal. It is a big deal. It’s still really crazy to me! It’s opened a lot of other opportunities for me, it’s helped with my confidence and reminded me that the work I’m doing is really valuable and making an impact. It pushes me to want to do more and continue to achieve great things.

Google Cloud announces new Toronto region to support growing customer base in Canada

For more than a decade, we’ve been investing in Canada to become a go-to cloud partner for organizations across the country, from Vancouver to my hometown of St. John’s and every city in between. Whether they’re in financial services, media and entertainment, retail, or another industry, a rapidly growing number of Canada-based organizations are choosing Google Cloud to help them build applications better and faster, store data, and ultimately deliver awesome experiences to their own users.

To support our expanding customer base in Canada, we’re excited to announce a new Google Cloud Platform region coming to Toronto. We’re working constantly to bring you new cloud products and capabilities in Canada, and our goal is to allow you to access those services quickly and easily — wherever you might be in the country. That’s why we decided to build this new region in Toronto, complementing our existing one in Montréal, which marked Google Cloud’s official arrival in Canada when we opened it in 2018.

Like Montréal, the new region will have three zones, allowing organizations of all sizes and industries to distribute apps and storage to protect against service disruptions. It will also launch with our core portfolio of Google Cloud Platform products, including Compute Engine, App Engine, Google Kubernetes Engine, Bigtable, Spanner, and BigQuery.

And the benefits don’t stop there. The Toronto region will provide distributed, secure infrastructure to help you meet disaster recovery and compliance requirements—something our customers have been asking for, especially financial institutions, public sector organizations, e-commerce providers, and other businesses operating in highly regulated industries.

While we’re thrilled about this news, don’t take it from us. We asked some of our customers with Canadian roots for their take on the upcoming cloud region. Here’s what they had to say:

  • David Furlong, SVP Artificial Intelligence, Venture Capital and Blockchain, at Banque Nationale: “Paired with their existing Montréal region, Google Cloud’s Toronto region will benefit the Canadian financial industry, enabling highly regulated organizations to perform disaster recovery while meeting data residency requirements.”
  • Ken Pickering, CTO at Hopper, the popular travel booking app: “Having already collaborated closely with the Google Cloud team in Montréal, where we’re headquartered, we look forward to their Toronto expansion. Google Cloud services are allowing us to bring a lower-latency travel planning and booking service to our customers. The second Canada region will allow us to extend that experience to more people around the world.”
  • Andrew McCormack, CIO at Payments Canada, a national payment clearing and settlement system that uses Google Cloud solutions like Apigee to digitize and manage its hybrid cloud environment: “System performance and security are critical for us an organization that clears and settles hundreds of billions of dollars every day. Google’s new Toronto cloud region will help us continue to modernize our infrastructure, strengthen our resilience, and create a digital platform for innovation.”

Today, Google Cloud customers around the world are currently served by 22 cloud regions and 67 zones. When we complete it in 2021, Toronto—along with three additional cloud regions we announced today on the other side of the world, Delhi, Doha, and Melbourne — will be part of our worldwide network of secure and reliable infrastructure.

For the latest and greatest updates on service availability, visit Google Cloud locations. Just getting started with Google Cloud? You can contact our sales team or find a local partner.

Posted by Jim Lambe, Managing Director, Google Cloud Canada

Bringing the best of Google to the Canadian startup ecosystem

The Google for Startups Accelerator Canada is launching its first cohort in April. Up to ten Canadian startups will be selected for an intensive three-month bootcamp to prepare for their next phase of growth.

In my ongoing conversations with entrepreneurs, I’m inspired every day by the tenacity, innovation and value that they bring to their communities. Our Director of Developer Ecosystem, David McLaughlin, has spent many years working with local markets around the globe to understand how Google can support startups to scale and grow. One of his key takeaways has been that the world's best ideas come from developers on the ground, connected to local communities. He became invested in helping these passionate entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful and sustainable businesses.

Our Global Accelerator Program was born out of this passion, to help developers be successful as they solve locally-relevant challenges. The accelerators are each tailored to their market to provide startups with the best of Google’s people, network and technology.

Take TerraTalk as an example. As Japanese teachers struggled with teaching English in growing classroom sizes, entrepreneur Yoshiyuki Kakihara looked to technology to create a solution. Working with Google through the Accelerator program in Tokyo, he built an AI-powered app that could hear and process what students in the classroom were saying. The app reinvigorated the classroom, and created an atmosphere filled with conversation and English learning games.

Looking closer to home, we see incredible startup potential. Our ecosystem has never been stronger: the Toronto-Waterloo corridor was recently ranked a top 15 Global startup ecosystem, Canadian venture capital funding levels are unprecedented, and every day there are more and more Canadian success stories. PointClickCare as an example, is an industry innovator based in Canada, aiming to solve the global challenges for long term care. Plum is also a proudly local company that is using AI to help companies hire, grow and retail top talent.

We’ve been working with startups in Canada for many years, through programming and partnerships with other ecosystem builders. We’re excited to take that work to the next level, bringing the best of Google to the Canadian startup community.

The Google for Startups Accelerator Canada

A few weeks ago, we announced that the first Google for Startups Accelerator was opening in Canada. This will be our 12th accelerator around the world, and the program will provide access to Google’s programs, products, people and technology, with the goal of helping startups build great products and services.

We plan to work with Seed to Series A tech startups that are headquartered in Canada. Selected founders will outline the top challenges facing their startup, and will be paired with relevant experts from Google and the industry to solve those challenges. Participating startups receive deep mentorship on technical challenges and machine learning, as well as education and connections to relevant teams from across Google.

Apply Now

The Google for Startups Accelerator will be based out of Kitchener-Waterloo and commences this spring. Applications for the first cohort are now open through March 15th, and we look forward to working with the next generation of Canadian founders and innovators.

New music controls, emoji and more features dropping for Pixel

New music controls, emoji and more features dropping for Pixel

A few months ago, Pixel owners got a few new, helpful features in our first feature drop. Beginning today, even more updates and new experiences will begin rolling out to Pixel users.

Help when you need it
You can already use Motion Sense to skip forward or go back to a previous song. Now, if you have a Pixel 4, you can also pause and resume music with a tapping gesture above the phone. So you can easily pause music when you're having a conversation, without even picking up your phone.

We’re also rolling out some helpful features to more Pixel devices. Now Live Caption, the technology that automatically captions media playing on your phone, will begin rolling out to Pixel 2 owners.

More fun with photos and video
New AR effects you can use live on your Duo video call with friends make chatting more visually stimulating. These effects change based on your facial expressions, and move with you around the screen. Duo calls now come with a whole new layer of fun.

Selfies on Pixel 4 are getting better, too. Your front-facing camera can now create images with depth, which improves Portrait Blur and colour pop, and lets you create 3D photos for Facebook.

Emoji on Pixel will now be a more customizable and inclusive thanks to the emoji 12.1 update, with 169 new emoji to represent a wider variation of gender and skin tones, as well as more couple combinations to better reflect the world around us.
A more powerful power button

Pixel is making it faster to pick the right card when using Google Pay. Just press and hold the power button to swipe through your debit and credit cards, event tickets, boarding passes or access anything else in Google Pay. This feature will be available to users in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Taiwan and Singapore. If you have Pixel 4, you can also quickly access emergency contacts and medical information.
Getting on a flight is also getting easier. Simply take a screenshot of a boarding pass barcode and tap on the notification to add it to Google Pay. You will receive real-time flight updates, and on the day of your flight, you can just press the power button to pull up your boarding pass. This feature will be rolling out gradually in all countries with Google Pay during March on Pixel 3, 3a and 4.

Customize your Pixel’s look and feel

A number of system-level advancements will give Pixel users more control over the look and feel of their devices.

You may know that Dark theme looks great and helps save battery power. Starting today, Dark theme gets even more helpful and flexible in switching from light to dark background, with the ability to schedule Dark theme based on local sunrise and sunset times.

Have you forgotten to silence your phone when you get to work? Pixel gives you the ability to automatically enable certain rules based on WiFi network or physical location. You can now set up a rule to automatically silence your ringtone when you connect to your office WiFi, or go on Do Not Disturb when you walk in the front door of your house to focus on the people and things that matter most.

Pixel 4 users are also getting some unique updates to the way they engage with the content on their phone. Improved long press options in Pixel’s launcher will get more and faster help from your apps. There’s also an update to Adaptive brightness, which now temporarily increases screen brightness to make reading content easier when in extremely bright ambient lighting, like direct sunlight. Check out more options for customizing your screen options.

Here’s to better selfies, more emoji and a quick pause when you need it! Check out our support page for more information on the new features, and look out for more helpful features dropping for Pixel users soon.

Celebrating Safer Internet Day: Five Key Ways to Stay Safe Online

Safer Internet Day is being celebrated around the world today! It’s an initiative that originated in the European Union two decades ago and is now observed in as many as 150 countries around the world. In Canada, we are focusing on these five key ways to stay safe online:

1. Set up a recovery phone number or email address, and keep it updated.
For many web services, your Google Account included, having a recovery method can help alert you if there’s suspicious activity on your account or if you need to block someone from using your account without permission. And of course, adding recovery information to your account can help you get back in more quickly if you ever lose access or can't sign in.

To set up recovery information, visit your Google Account’s Security section and scroll down to “Ways we can verify it's you.”

2. Use unique passwords for your accounts.
Create a unique password for each account to eliminate this risk. Make sure that each password is hard to guess and better yet, at least eight characters long. It can be hard to keep track of many different passwords—60 percent of people report having too many passwords to remember. To help, consider using a password manager (like the one built into your Chrome browser) to help you create, safeguard and keep track of all your passwords. Alternatively, you can even write your passwords down on a piece of paper (but keep it in a safe place!), since hijackers are most likely to be online, rather than physically near you.

3. Keep your software up to date.
To help protect your online activity, make sure you’re always running the latest version of software on all your devices.

If you’re using the below operating systems, here’s where you can look to learn how to check & update the software on your devices:
Windows support

Some software, like Chrome, will automatically update so you never need to worry about doing it yourself. For other services that send notifications when it’s time to update, don’t click “remind me later”— take the time to install the update right away.
4. Go a step further by setting up two-factor authentication.

Setting up two-factor authentication (2FA)—also known as 2-Step Verification—significantly decreases the chance of someone gaining unauthorized access to your account.

2FA requires you to take a second step each time you sign in to your account on top of your username and password. Examples of second verification steps include: an SMS text message, a six-digit code generated by an app, a prompt that you receive on a trusted device or the use of a physical security key.

Set up two-factor authentication for your Google Account by visiting and clicking “Get Started.”

5. Take the Google Security Checkup.

The Security Checkup gives you personalized and actionable security recommendations that help you strengthen the security of your Google Account, and it only takes two minutes to complete.

Taking the Security Checkup doesn’t just help make you safer while using Google. The Checkup also includes personalized tips to keep you safer across the web, like helping you set up a screen lock on your mobile phone and advising you to remove risky third-party sites and apps that have access to your account.

Find more online security tips like these by visiting our Safety Center; you can also visit your Google Account’s Security section to find all the settings and tools mentioned in this post.

Making an Impact in Canada

Aamir Baig was an entrepreneur with a big idea — to build a company that reimagines how customers furnish their homes and workplaces. With Fraser Hall and brothers Sam and Andy Prochazka, Baig co-founded the furniture retailer Article. They then turned to digital advertising services to find new customers across Canada and the U.S. and drive growth. Thanks to digital technologies, the Vancouver-based company has built a rapidly expanding business in just six years, and is now Canada’s fastest growing company according to Canadian Business.

Google has helped Canadian enterprises of all sizes to unlock the prosperity of the internet. According to new research from Public First, last year Google’s search and advertising products helped generate an estimated $23 billion CAD in annual economic activity for more than 500,000 businesses in Canada—a total impact equivalent to approximately 1.1 percent of Canada’s entire GDP.

Why digital matters for Canada
The transition to digital reflects incredible momentum for Canadian businesses leveraging data and online technologies. Canada’s digital economy generates some $100 billion CAD in annual revenues, more than the forestry, mining and gas industries combined. The internet addresses many of the traditional economic challenges that a country of Canada’s vast size once faced—a population the size of California, spread over a land mass roughly the size of Russia. The open web helps solve for distance and lack of population density, and allows any size company or individual creator in Canada to become a global business and reach customers across the planet. Google’s products alone support $1.7 billion CAD annually in incremental exports for Canadian businesses. And 160,000 Canadian YouTube creators see 90 percent of their views come from outside Canada’s borders.

Sustaining this kind of economic growth hinges on building a smart and adaptable workforce. Canada’s investments in first-rate education and technological research--spearheaded by facilities like MILA in Montreal and Toronto’s Vector Institute-coupled with its consistent welcoming of global talent, reflect a commitment to a labor force designed to seize the opportunities of the digital economy.

Growing Google in Canada
Google began its business in Canada in 2001, when our office in Toronto was opened with one salesperson. Nineteen years later, we employ more than 1,500 people—including engineers, sales leaders and AI researchers—across three offices in Waterloo, Toronto and Montreal. Today we’re pleased to announce that we’re expanding our presence in Canada and building three new offices, one in each of these cities. By 2022, these offices will accommodate up to 5,000 employees.

Investing in Canada’s future workforce
Our investment in Canada extends beyond our facilities—we also aim to support the communities in which we live and work. Just in the last five years Google has invested $17 million CAD in Canadian nonprofits, specifically to help Canadians learn essential digital skills training with programs like the Google IT Support Professional Certificate program.

Programs like these have helped people like Jean Claude Kamov transform Canada. Jean Claude was a refugee from the Congo who moved to Canada to escape violence and build a better life for his family. He always dreamed of a career in technology, but the cost of training held him back. Jean Claude heard about our program, which offers people with no previous tech experience the training to become certified in IT support. He applied at the Edmonton Public Library and became the first graduate to be hired into a new high tech career.

Stories like Jean Claude’s are why we’re continuing to invest in skills training programs. Today, is announcing a $2.5 million grant for NPower Canada, a charitable organization that launches underserved young adults into meaningful and sustainable careers. Through this grant, we'll support 1,700 Canadians with technical skills through the IT Support Professional Certificate and the IT Automation with Python Certificate.

Helping Canadians benefit from digital opportunities

Google is pleased to play a part in Canada’s ongoing digital transformation. We’re helping Canadian businesses grow, we’re investing directly in programs to support Canadians learning new skills and we’re expanding our offices to accommodate for long-term growth. When Google looks to Canada, we see the potential of technology to drive business and change lives. We’re committed to helping Canadians deliver on that potential.

Posted by Ruth Porat, Senior Vice President and CFO for Alphabet and Google