Tag Archives: Diversity and Inclusion

One founder’s mission to make healthcare more accessible

In 2018, women received only 2.2 percent of all venture capital funding. Women Techmakers, Google’s program to build visibility, community and resources for women in technology, is committed to changing this narrative. That’s why we launched Founded, a web series that shares the stories of women founders who are using tech to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. To highlight the stories of four women of color tech entrepreneurs, for our first season we’re taking our viewers to Atlanta, home of one of the largest technology hubs in the U.S

In our latest episode, we interviewed Chrissa McFarlane who is the Founder and CEO of the blockchain startup Patientory (which is also helping distribute diagnostic kits and medical equipment during the COVID-19 crisis). She first learned about bitcoin in 2010, started working on broader blockchain solutions in 2015 and later published her book, "Future Women: Minority Female Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Era of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency."

Tell me about the moment when you first came up with the idea for Patientory. 

I was working with a telemedicine company and experienced first hand the difficulty patients have obtaining access to their medical information. I was also actively researching Bitcoin and Blockchain at the time and made a connection between the two industries. 

What was your vision for healthcare? What problem are you hoping to solve?

For over a decade, the main problem in the healthcare industry is  the topic of interoperability. The ability to access health information securely and easily across multiple providers has been a challenge. I recently wrote about this for the Electronic Health Reporter

Where do you see Patientory going within the next five years? 

Looking past our current pandemic, I see Patientory providing the capability to keep large populations of people around the world healthy. This year proved that we need access to digital health solutions more than ever. Telemedicine usage rose over 70 percent for certain apps. Being able to treat patients is not going to stop with an office visit, but should be an ongoing engagement that can be facilitated by technology. 

As a fellow New Yorker, I’m curious about your upbringing in the Bronx. How did it shape your vision for your work?

Growing up in the Bronx, I was exposed to various cultures and many different people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. During my first internship at the New York City Human Resource Administration/Department of Social Services, I met with hundreds of families across the city. This opened me up to  discrepancies that existed, especially as it related to healthcare; it helped to shape the mission behind Patientory in serving all people regardless of class or race.  

What are some of the first steps you took when starting your company?

I found advisors and mentors who would help me for the long-term. One of the most important factors of running a business is having strong relationships. 

 Two years ago, you made headlines after securing $7.2 million in funding in two days. How were you able to raise so much so fast?

Being a pioneer in the space, it was difficult to secure the first round of institutional funding. So we decided to create a cryptocurrency, called PTOY, through our Foundation. More than 1,000 people all over the world purchased the cryptocurrency, which secured over $7 million in funding for Patientory. It also provided grants to support early stage companies building blockchain healthcare solutions, which later translated into interest and continued support for Patientory’s initial capital raise. 

What advice do you have for other women interested in starting their own technology companies? 

Connect with an ecosystem, whether it’s an accelerator or incubator, and never stop talking to customers! I recently wrote a book about women entering the modern entrepreneurial world, and I talk about the 10 important mindsets you should have when you’re starting a business—for example, persistence and coachabilty. 

One founder’s mission to make healthcare more accessible

In 2018, women received only 2.2 percent of all venture capital funding. Women Techmakers, Google’s program to build visibility, community and resources for women in technology, is committed to changing this narrative. That’s why we launched Founded, a web series that shares the stories of women founders who are using tech to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. To highlight the stories of four women of color tech entrepreneurs, for our first season we’re taking our viewers to Atlanta, home of one of the largest technology hubs in the U.S

In our latest episode, we interviewed Chrissa McFarlane who is the Founder and CEO of the blockchain startup Patientory (which is also helping distribute diagnostic kits and medical equipment during the COVID-19 crisis). She first learned about bitcoin in 2010, started working on broader blockchain solutions in 2015 and later published her book, "Future Women: Minority Female Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Era of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency."

Tell me about the moment when you first came up with the idea for Patientory. 

I was working with a telemedicine company and experienced first hand the difficulty patients have obtaining access to their medical information. I was also actively researching Bitcoin and Blockchain at the time and made a connection between the two industries. 

What was your vision for healthcare? What problem are you hoping to solve?

For over a decade, the main problem in the healthcare industry is  the topic of interoperability. The ability to access health information securely and easily across multiple providers has been a challenge. I recently wrote about this for the Electronic Health Reporter

Where do you see Patientory going within the next five years? 

Looking past our current pandemic, I see Patientory providing the capability to keep large populations of people around the world healthy. This year proved that we need access to digital health solutions more than ever. Telemedicine usage rose over 70 percent for certain apps. Being able to treat patients is not going to stop with an office visit, but should be an ongoing engagement that can be facilitated by technology. 

As a fellow New Yorker, I’m curious about your upbringing in the Bronx. How did it shape your vision for your work?

Growing up in the Bronx, I was exposed to various cultures and many different people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. During my first internship at the New York City Human Resource Administration/Department of Social Services, I met with hundreds of families across the city. This opened me up to  discrepancies that existed, especially as it related to healthcare; it helped to shape the mission behind Patientory in serving all people regardless of class or race.  

What are some of the first steps you took when starting your company?

I found advisors and mentors who would help me for the long-term. One of the most important factors of running a business is having strong relationships. 

 Two years ago, you made headlines after securing $7.2 million in funding in two days. How were you able to raise so much so fast?

Being a pioneer in the space, it was difficult to secure the first round of institutional funding. So we decided to create a cryptocurrency, called PTOY, through our Foundation. More than 1,000 people all over the world purchased the cryptocurrency, which secured over $7 million in funding for Patientory. It also provided grants to support early stage companies building blockchain healthcare solutions, which later translated into interest and continued support for Patientory’s initial capital raise. 

What advice do you have for other women interested in starting their own technology companies? 

Connect with an ecosystem, whether it’s an accelerator or incubator, and never stop talking to customers! I recently wrote a book about women entering the modern entrepreneurial world, and I talk about the 10 important mindsets you should have when you’re starting a business—for example, persistence and coachabilty. 

What we learned from Hank Green about building community online

Tech Exchange is a student exchange program between Google and 11 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). During the program, students spend a semester at Google’s Mountain View Campus, taking computer science courses and learning about professional development. With Tech Exchange students now learning from home, we brought in a speaker who has made a name for himself by engaging with people online: Hank Green, author and YouTube creator. 

Hank began his journey as a YouTube Creator in 2007 when he and his brother John decided to communicate with each other through video blogs every day for a year. As more people started watching the Vlogbrothers, Hank and John went on to create 32 YouTube channels including Crash Course and SciShow. In a virtual Q&A with Tech Exchange students, Hank shared his insights on how to build community online. Here’s what we learned.

Understand the problem that you’re trying to solve

Hank is often asked, “How does one become a YouTuber?” He says the first step is to understand the question you’re actually trying to solve. “Is it that I want to have a job where I get to be creative all day? Is it that I want to make a specific kind of content that I know is going to be high impact ? Is it that I want to have an audience or that I want to have influence?”

Once you actually know that answer, think about the first step on that path (this applies to content creation but also in everything in life!). It’s important to understand what tools you bring to the table. Put the problem that you’re trying to solve in a bucket with your tools and see what falls out. 

There are other people like you in the world, create for them.

Hank shared three strategies that he and John learned when building the Vlogbrothers community. The first is to find common values and interests. “You just have to say, ‘What is the stuff that I would like to see made in the world?’ There are other people who, it turns out, are somewhat like you in the world, and they will be there for it.” The second is to build a feeling of actual connection and the third piece is what I call the "touchstone," which is the YouTube creator building a relationship with the viewer. You have to make people feel like this person is worthy of being the nexus of a community.

Put the problem that you’re trying to solve in a bucket with your tools and see what falls out.

Create content that represents various perspectives

Through Hank’s channels, he hopes to put out more content that is representative of a variety of voices and perspectives. To do this, he says you have to find hosts who don’t all look the same. But you have to go beyond that too, and give them full ownership of the creative process. The writing, the editing, the style need to be informed culturally all the way through. 


For more tips on building community, check out YouTube Creator Academy and Hank’s YouTube Channel, Vlogbrothers.

How to foster inclusion while working from home

People are searching for new ways to connect with their communities while being physically distant. I’ve focused my career on building initiatives and resources for minority groups within large companies. To ensure Google is a workplace where everyone can do their best work, we've spent the last several years understanding how employees from different backgrounds experience Google and building internal programs that foster an inclusive work environment.

As we navigate the impact of COVID-19 in our own workplace, it’s vital to continue building a culture of belonging. With much of our workforce working remotely, we’re focused on helping our employees connect and finding new ways to prioritize inclusion. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned.

Help boost virtual connections 

We know current events are impacting our employees in different ways. Some are balancing expanded childcare responsibilities, while others who live alone may be experiencing feelings of isolation. Based on early research, we see that people in underrepresented groups are likely being impacted disproportionately more, in general. To help, we’ve explored a variety of virtual formats for connecting people across Google and many of our Employee Resource Groups have extended their efforts to help underrepresented Googlers build community during this time. Our Black Googler Network hosts recurring virtual Yoga sessions, and our [email protected] chapters across the globe have been hosting virtual sessions for connection and career development. Our Asian Google Network has aggregated resources for their community and created office hours for members to connect online. 

Manage equitably 

Managers have a unique role in caring for teams, and we’ve asked our managers to work with their teams to create flexible work schedules. Having regular conversations with employees about how their attention might be divided and which projects should be prioritized is one way to see how they’re doing and help everyone remain connected. It’s also important to find solutions that work for both our roles and needs at home. We temporarily expanded our existing Carer's Leave policy to support employees who need to take time off to look after their children. And beyond formal policies, managers play a critical role in ensuring employees feel supported and included.  

Help people speak up

Remote meetings keep us connected, but video conversations can make it tougher for some participants to speak up. We want everyone to feel comfortable, empowered and heard, because it makes them—and all of us—more successful. To ensure everyone’s voices are recognized, use multi-sensory cues to indicate who’s speaking and who’s listening. We encourage employees to avoid relying only on visual cues like hand gestures because people with visual impairments, or who are temporarily distracted or have bad internet connection, may not be able to see them. We also recommend appointing a moderator separate from the speaker, if possible, to help participants ask questions in real time. A moderator lessens the onus on the speaker to pay attention to participants’ body language or their unmuting, as well as on participants to figure out when they can chime in. It’s also a good idea to leave space in the meeting for those who’ve been quiet to contribute by saving time and opening up for input, but don’t feel like you have to “go around the room”—equal time doesn’t always mean equal contribution. Some people formulate and communicate questions better by writing, so consider an accessible, shared channel or document for participants to type their questions and have the speaker or a moderator go through them. Bonus: The act of writing forces people to be more succinct and clear.

Make sure meetings and presentations are accessible

Accessibility is a core value at Google and it’s critical to our inclusion work. Real-time closed captions (CC) can help participants who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, aren’t fluent in the language being used or are unable to adequately use audio. Provide a phone dial-in option for those without strong internet access. Participants can also turn off their cameras to improve the connection or adjust the video quality. For presentations, using a large font size and high contrast (here’s how in Google Docs and Slides) helps people easily see images and read text. Slides are a useful tool, but not everyone may be able to see them, so we also recommend providing alternatives to purely visual information, like giving a verbal summary of a photo, chart or graph. If you’re going to share your slides, documents and other materials, remember to add alt text, or text description of the visual, to your images, graphs and charts so people who use screen readers know what visuals are being shown. Finally, when it comes to images, find ways to show diversity in race, skin tone, size, cultural background, name, hair type, ability, gender, age, geography and beyond. The people you use in your images should represent diverse backgrounds.

We’re committed to making Google a place where people of different views, backgrounds, and experiences can do their best work and show up for one another.  These tips aren’t exhaustive by any means, but they are a useful start to empowering people to meaningfully join in and contribute.

How your faith community can come together online

Over the past few weeks and months, people all over the world have been learning new ways to stay connected to each other while remaining apart physically. Faith communities are rapidly shifting from traditional in-person gatherings to online—sometimes for the very first time. 

With Passover, Easter, Ramadan and other important holidays coming up this month, we want to help these communities make this shift. Here’s a look at how faith communities can use technology to stay connected and stay safe during COVID-19.

Stay informed on the latest

As local health and safety guidelines change, how you deliver services and support to your community may be affected. Keep up to date by following credible, official sources like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and local governmental health departments so you can respond quickly to changes that affect you or your community. Google’s COVID-19 news hub provides the latest updates from global health authorities.

Update information about your place of worship 

Your community will need to know when, where and how they can connect. You can proactively share important information about how your place of worship is responding to COVID-19 through email, on social media, and by updating how your information appears when people search for your place of worship online. 

Edit your Business Profile on Google to reflect new hours of operation, or use Google Maps Posts to communicate information directly on your Business Profile, like informing your congregation of a shift to virtual gatherings. You can also set up an email auto-reply with answers to frequently asked questions to respond quickly to direct inquiries, or add an email signature with links to frequently asked questions.

Host services, prayer and study groups online

As shelter-in-place orders are enforced by many local, regional and federal governments, faith communities have started to move their weekly worship services, prayer and study gatherings to virtual formats.  

One of the most helpful tools you can use to gather virtually is YouTube. If you don’t already have a YouTube channel, learn how to set one up. You can then record a service, discussion, or worship session on a device like a cell phone or laptop, upload it to your channel and share the link. Alternatively, you can live stream on YouTube to broadcast real-time discussions or sermons. You can use YouTube Community to promote conversation, and organize your YouTube channel to bring the most important videos to the top of your page. You can find more helpful information and tips for YouTube in this blog post

Google HangoutsGoogle Calendar and Google Docs can also help you run virtual prayer and study gatherings. Hangouts permits up to 25 participants at a time to virtually connect via their Internet browser or mobile phone. Google Calendar can automatically create an event with Google Hangouts access links for all invited participants, and Google Docs allows you to prepare, share and collaborate on notes or study gathering questions.

Raise support from your community

Many faith institutions receive charitable donations during in-person gatherings, but when in-person attendance isn’t possible, other tools can help you continue to raise funds. Google for Nonprofits can support your 501(c)(3) or equivalent organization and help you reach more donors online.

Come together, apart

Connection to one another and to our wider communities is an essential part of our wellbeing, and technology can help bridge physical distance and bring us together in celebration. We wish safe and healthy holidays to all.

Porsche Taylor puts women in the driver’s seat

Porsche Taylor’s first time riding a motorcycle alone could have gone better. “That first ride, I had absolutely nothing on right: My helmet was too big, I didn’t own a jacket. I might have had on some baseball gloves; everything was just totally upside-down wrong,” she says. “But I wasn’t afraid, it was exhilarating. It was trying something new, being in control. It was that initial feeling of the freedom of the wind.”

Porsche was one of the participants in the Women Riders World Relay, a relay ride that spanned the globe, beginning in February 2019 in Scotland and ending February 2020 in London. WRWR organizers used Google products like Maps, Sheets and Translate to make sure riders not only had constant, up-to-date access to their routes, but also were able to explore and connect with one another along the way. 

Video showing women riding motorcycles across the world.

“The whole team did phenomenally with the amount of time they had to put together the route and figure out the baton passes,” says Porsche. Google Maps was particularly useful for creating Porsche’s route. She and her fellow riders rode from Sept. 25 to Oct. 14, starting in Maine and heading west across the Canadian border, then down through the Southwest to the Mexican border in Texas. They crossed the country, occasionally riding through snowstorms and dropping temperatures. “When you consider the seasons we were riding through, it was a definite challenge for organizers to find routes that weren’t closed down.” 

While Google Maps could help the riders along their journey, it couldn’t do anything about inclement weather. “I quit about four times,” laughs Porsche. “Riding in the cold is not my favorite thing to do. But it was a positive experience all the way around; I don’t know that I would ride in the freezing cold again, but I would do a ride with those women again for sure. I always say the bonds are built on the ground: You’re going to love the folks you ride with to death or you won’t be so cool, and I’m happy to say I love those ladies to death.”

Porsche is vocal about the need for more representation for women in the motor sports community, and she says that things like social media visibility and technical tools like Google Hangouts have helped women who may have felt alone in their shared passion find each other. This idea is in part what inspired her to found Black Girls Ride, a magazine and community originally launched as a place for women of color who ride, which has since grown to include all women. What inspired her to launch Black Girls Ride was the lack of representation she saw when she first started riding—especially in long-distance riding. Traditionally, women filled support roles during these cross-country expeditions, taking a literal backseat to men. In fact, Porsche’s first experience on a bike was sitting behind a man, on the back of her cousin’s bike. “I didn’t so much like the feeling of being a passenger...but I loved the feeling of riding.” 

Thanks to women like Porsche and the WRWR riders, the world of motor sports is changing. “Women have become fearless and bold enough to take long distance biking trips on their own. We’re witnessing the explosion of the all-female long distance ride, where women take it upon themselves to create rides that cater to them instead of being a subset of an all-male ride. It’s where we get to take our power back.” 

Talking about these rides and seeing women taking them via social media and internet communities are crucial, says Porsche, who also mentions using Google Hangouts to connect with riders across the country. “You’re able to see the growth of female riders; women taking these long distance trips and riding solo have always been there—there are women riding today who have been doing this since the 60s—but social media is now shining a light on them.” 

That increased visibility is part of Porsche's work with Black Girls Ride. “I knew from riding in LA that there were more of us than the community would admit to. There was no representation in mainstream media, even for women who were riding professionally, there was very little to nothing,” Porsche says. Now "women all over the world are connecting to the Black Girls Ride brand. We have readers in London, Nigeria, France, just about every country you can name. I’m motivated by these women.” Black Girls Ride has become more than a publication, hosting trainings, workshops and events. And while both men and women are included, it’s Porsche’s focus to make sure women riders are invited to the table and that they are given the same representation, advertising and sponsorship opportunities. 

Most of all, she just wants women to feel welcome in this world. “It’s always been my goal to create safe spaces for women to ask questions and get the help they need without fear of ridicule,” she says. “And I’m glad I can be a part of creating that.” 

Learn more about the women behind WRWR and how they planned their relay at goo.gle/womenriders.


Source: Google LatLong


Together we rise: a Q&A with Libby VanderPloeg

Women Techmakers is Google’s global program to build visibility, community and resources for women in technology. For Women’s History Month, we’re recognizing the inner qualities that make women stand out—their very own superpowers. To do this, we teamed up with Libby VanderPloeg, whose superpower is the art she creates. She’s the mastermind behind multiple viral gifs emphasizing the power of women, collaboration and civic engagement

We sat down with her to talk about the evolution of her craft, her work with the Women Techmakers team, and her illustrations that encourage women to rise up together. 

You’ve created art that resonates with  many people and movements. Which of your designs makes you the most proud?
It’s definitely “Lift Each Other Up,” first shared in 2016 on International Women’s Day. It’s been shared for the past four years, especially lighting up the internet on its birthday, March 8. It’s given people hope and inspired women to work together and help each other out when they can. I’m proud of how much it communicates in just a few seconds, and how that message has resonated so deeply all over the world.


How would you describe your design style?
Colorful, relatable, energizing, funny and hopeful.


A lot of your art is digital. Has that always been the case?
I never liked computers, growing up into my early twenties, because I didn’t know how to use them as part of my art practice. I was a painter, period. But once I started playing around with technology, I started to fall in love with it. First I got the wacom tablet, which took some time to master. And then I started doing most of my drawing in Illustrator, learning more about how to bring a natural touch to vector art. Now I use a mix of Procreate, Illustrator, and Photoshop. It’s so fun to work digitally because you can play with your artwork in infinite ways, like changing the color palette or adding a little bit of animation, a skill that I’ve been working on for about ten years. I’m not a master animator, but excited to always learn new tricks. I just started learning how to use After Effects and it’s so much fun! 

What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?
Know that you are capable of more than you can imagine. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being asked to do something you don’t know how to do. When you accept new challenges, it can be very nerve wracking, but the payoff of growth makes it so worthwhile.


What does it mean to you to have your work highlighted by Women Techmakers?
It's really exciting that, through my artwork, I can be a part of the effort to get more women into tech. For a long time, I thought of myself as simply an artist, and took for granted the other strengths that I was honing along the way. I’m my own IT and production department, and am constantly communicating with my clients to help them achieve their goals through art, yes—but art with a technological edge. So on top of being visually creative, I’m technologically creative, and whenever I can solve problems, I feel like somewhat of a superhero! So these Women Techmakers are an ode to all of the women out there who have the vision to make the world more connected and empathetic. I want them to know what inspiring superheroes they all are.

Know that you are capable of more than you can imagine.

What’s your superpower?
This is one that fellow designers will appreciate: I can deliver designs in multiple sizes and file formats without batting an eye or breaking a sweat :) 


Who are the superwomen who have inspired you?
My mom has been a huge source of inspiration, her superpower being relentless hope. She’s an incredibly hard worker with a positive outlook, and has always inspired me to chase after my dreams. And my dear friend, Marisa Ponitch, whose superpower is making doing the right thing look cool. She is one of the most creative people I know, using her voice and vision to teach people about waste in the textile industry and give them fun and engaging ways to reduce their consumption. 

Don’t miss Libby’s work featured on the Women Techmakers page. If you’re interested in learning more and getting involved with Women Techmakers, check out our website and sign up to become a member.

Photo credit for headshot of Libby: Leigh Ann Cobb Photography

Sandeep Ahuja is comfortable confronting convention

In 2018, women received only 2.2 percent of all venture capital funding. Women Techmakers, Google’s program to build visibility, community and resources for women in technology, is committed to changing this narrative. Founded is a new web series that shares the stories of women founders using tech to solve some of the world’s challenges. For our first season, we’re taking our viewers to Atlanta, home of one of the largest technology hubs in the U.S., to highlight the stories of four women of color entrepreneurs.

Today, we’re releasing our second episode, an interview with Sandeep Ahuja. Sandeep is the co-founder of cove.tool, a software platform that helps architects and engineers model energy efficient buildings. We had the chance to talk to the Atlanta-based entrepreneur about her international upbringing, how she creates community for women in tech and how it felt to make Forbes “30 Under 30” list. 

Can you explain what cove.tool is to someone who’s not in tech?

Buildings contribute to 40 percent of total carbon emissions, and while developers and owners don’t mind doing the “right thing” for the planet, no one has unlimited budgets to spend on green building design. We still have to make things affordable and that’s exactly what cove.tool’s smart optimization does. We want to make it easier to build sustainable and green energy efficient buildings.

What originally inspired your interest in fighting climate change?

As a daughter of a diplomat, I traveled the world seeing the remarkable homogeneity of buildings in climates as diverse as Riyadh and Moscow. Given the outsized contribution buildings make to climate change, I was deeply troubled by the lack of architectural response. I wanted to disrupt this idea, and for me, given that I moved to a different country every four years, I’ve always felt comfortable with change and with confronting entrenched beliefs.  For me, there was no such thing as conforming to conventions. 

What was it like to be named to the Forbes “30 under 30” list? 

It’s both exciting and humbling; so many people reached out to express support and congratulations. It was exciting to see so many  strong women on the list, as well as so many immigrants, including myself! 

Cove.tool is meant to help architecture and engineering professionals fight climate change, but how can everyone else help? 

Getting politically active and pushing business and political leaders to take action is the key. Multinational corporations, investment firms and government regulations account for the vast majority of emissions. A good place to start in America is to join grassroots efforts like Citizens Climate Lobby, a bi-partisan organization tackling climate change. Collaborating with them is a great way to organize, volunteer and raise awareness. Writing letters to your local representative, congressperson and voting for fighting climate change candidates also makes a big difference. 

Why do you think it’s important for women in the entrepreneur and tech worlds to create community? 

Being a data driven person, the data clearly answers the "why.” Women only receive 2 percent of VC funding and make up only 11 percent of leadership in tech; this is creating a world of systematic bias. This needs to change and the change can start with me, you and everyone else. I drive change by making sure that cove.tool maintains a strong gender and diversity ratio and that we put  women in leadership roles. Our first non-founder team member was a woman, and the second was a woman, too, and they weren’t hired for any other reason aside from the fact that they deserved those roles and had the best skillsets. I also volunteer, coach and hopefully inspire other women founders and architects.

Anna Vainer knows what makes her remarkable

Even as a teenager, Anna Vainer knew what she wanted. “I remember, at 14, telling my sister ‘I’m going to be working in marketing,’” she says, smiling. “I don’t know how I knew that.” She was right: Anna is the head of B2B Growth Marketing for Google in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and runs the regional team for Think with Google, a destination for marketing trends and insights. Anna says she’s truly driven by working with people, and it’s her other role as the co-founder of #IamRemarkable where she truly gets to flex this skill. 

#IamRemarkable is an initiative that empowers women and underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond. The goal is to challenge the social perception that surrounds self promotion, an issue that not only affects individuals, but also hinders progress when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

#IamRemarkable also has a workshop component, which to date has reached more than 100,000 participants in more than 100 countries with the help of 5,000 facilitators; many participants credit the workshop with helping them make real, positive career and personal growth. 

The idea for #IamRemarkable came to Anna during a training that asked women to write down and read lists of their accomplishments. She was shocked by her own reaction. “I remember sitting there, looking at the women reading their achievements and I was thinking to myself, ‘wow, why do they brag? Why do they have to show off?’” she says. “And then it started to hit me that there was something wrong with this feeling. They were asked to stand in front of the room and talk about their achievements; that was the exercise.” Today, Anna helps others learn to acknowledge and announce what makes them great—while also making sure to practice what she preaches. 

What was your career path to Google?

At university, I studied economics and management and then I kind of rolled into doing an internship at a pharmaceutical company working as an economist. I told myself, “you know what, I studied economics, let’s see what it means to be an actual economist,” but soon enough I realized this was not going to be my preferable field of professional engagement. Shortly after that, I applied for an internship at Google and got it, and that was it. I’ve been at Google for nearly 10 years. 

In a parallel universe, what’s a different career you would have pursued? 

I would love to run a boutique hotel in the countryside of Israel, where I grew up. I think about my grandparent's summer house in Minsk, Belarus and the amazing summers we spent as a family in the countryside every summer until we moved to Israel. And running a hotel means I could create this experience for travellers from all over the world in one place. 

How did #IamRemarkable first get started?

After that training where I felt like the women reading their achievements out loud were bragging, I talked to a colleague of mine, Anna Zapesochini, who had the same feeling when she took the course. She told me we should make a video about the process people go through during this exercise. I went to my previous manager, Riki Drori, and said, “I need to make this video, we have a really great idea to help women overcome their confidence gaps and their modesty gaps.” She said, “I’m going to give you the budget for the video, but if this is as important as you say it is, how are you actually going to bring it to every woman on the planet?” That question led to so many ideas. Soon after that conversation, Anna [Zapesochini] and I, with a ton of support from my managers Janusz Moneta and Yonca Dervişoğlu, founded the #IamRemarkable initiative, at the heart of which lies a 90-minute workshop aimed at empowering women and underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements and break modesty norms and glass ceilings. 

The original #IamRemarkable video that Anna requested the budget to make.

The original #IamRemarkable video that Anna requested the budget to make.

What’s your favorite part of the workshop?

After we ask people to fill out a whole page with statements about what makes them remarkable, we ask them to read it out loud. And the moment you ask them to read it out loud you hear “hhhuuuuhhh!”—like the air is sucked out of the room. That’s definitely my favorite part. 

Have any of them in particular really stuck with you? 

One of the most memorable ones was in the past year at Web Summit in Lisbon. It was my first week back from maternity leave and we ran a workshop for 250 people. The room was packed, people were sitting on the floor. After we asked people to read their lists of what makes them remarkable in their small groups, we invited 10 brave people to stand on stage and read one of their statements out loud, and everybody wept. It was such a high level of intimacy for such a large room, I was astonished. 

My baby and husband were actually at that workshop, which was so great. It made me think of the future generation and how I want the workplace to be for my daughter, and I think we’ve made really good steps in the past couple of years. #IamRemarkable is creating really great tools for people. 


Without putting you on the spot, what are some things that make you remarkable?

Professionally, there are a few achievements I’m proud of. The first is that I created #IamRemarkable; another is that I started a campaign similar to Black Friday in Israel to drive e-commerce in the country. And personally, I’m remarkable because I was part of the Israeli national synchronized swimming team. You won’t see me in the pool with a nose clip now, but I did that for seven years. 

What’s one piece of advice you have for women who struggle with self-promotion? 

The piece of homework we give to people after the workshop is write down your three top achievements from the past month or past period, and practice saying them in front of the mirror. Then practice saying them to a friend or colleague who you trust. Then, put down time down with your manager to go through that list. 

The most recent I Am Remarkable video featuring Anna.

With today’s overload of data—whether it’s email, ads, whatever—you can’t assume people see and understand what you’ve worked on. The ability to talk about your personal contribution is critical, and many times, women specifically use team-based language; “we” as opposed to “I.” Learning to use self-promoting language is important as well. Practice, practice, practice. It’s like flexing a muscle; it’s going to feel awkward the first time, and even maybe the third time—but the tenth time, it will feel natural. 

Was there a time in your life when you could have benefit from these skills? 

To be honest, to this day I still have those moments where I need to practice those skills. I don’t think it’s that you just learn it and then you’re amazing at it. But it definitely would have benefit me earlier in my career, and during school as well. It’s really important to learn from a young age to talk about achievements in an objective way. You see this in the workshop, where people look at their full page and see their lives unfold, all of their achievements on the page, and suddenly it fills them up with so much pride; it gives you this sense of ability and confidence that you can achieve anything. The original video we made with that scrappy budget ends with a woman saying, “I wonder what else I can do.” I think that’s a pretty important feeling to have at any stage of your life. 


Career development for journalists-turned-parents in Korea

Managing work and home life is never an easy task, and parents around the world would agree that it doesn’t get any simpler with children. Now couple that with a career in journalism: if parenting is a full-time job, the news never stops either.


For reporters in Korea, the pursuit of worabael, or "work-life balance," means making a difficult choice between advancing their careers and spending time with their families. Taking parental leave can be a major career setback—so parents working in the news industry either don’t take leave, or suffer the consequences when they do. It’s a situation that disproportionately affects women, even as thenumber of female reporters in Korean newsrooms grows. 


To help overcome these barriers, the Google News Initiative (GNI) has partnered with the Journalists Association of Korea and HeyJoyce—Korea’s largest community for women—to create a leadership program that supports reporters’ career development while on parental leave, so they’re ready to return after a period away. The 10-week curriculum aims to develop the journalists’ understanding of newsroom operations and how to introduce new technologies and business models, with instruction and mentoring from senior editors and academics. 


What’s different is that all the participants are invited to bring their children along. While the first cohort of 18 journalists attend sessions, they don’t have to worry about childcare. Professionals from JARANDA—a childcare-matching platform led by Seojung Chang, a member of Google’s 2017 Campus for Moms initiative in Seoul—look after the kids. And catering company Unor, founded by a mother-daughter team, provides the food.

OSN4pqau8YE.png

Korean startups provide child-minding and food for journalists taking part in the courses.

BCO4puxdCD6.png

The classes help new parents keep up their skills and learn how to lead through change in the news industry.

The program aims to show a different, more positive approach to work-life balance in Korea. 


Naree Lee, the CEO of HeyJoyce, knows how critical this kind of support for new parents can be. “I worked for 20 years as a journalist and experienced serious difficulties keeping up with work and caring for my children at the same time; I considered quitting every day. I was also anxious about falling behind my colleagues in such an intensely competitive environment,” she said. “Programs like these will help build concrete skills, so the participants won’t have to go through what I did.”


rvmgpveGgVh.png

“Throughout the decade I spent working at a newspaper, I had many concerns about the future of journalism,” said Sewon Yim, a reporter from the Seoul Economic Daily. “Through this program, we were able to express our worries and share possible solutions.”

The pilot program in Korea will conclude this spring and, together with our partners, we plan to expand it to returning parents in newsrooms across Asia-Pacific.