For Women's History Month, we're profiling some of the powerful, dynamic and creative Canadian women at Google.
As the Country Manager for Google Canada, Sabrina Geremia is a firm believer that technology, when thoughtfully applied, can be a bridge to building a better Canada. And as a champion of technology, she leads her teams to build programs aimed at helping Canadians and Canadian businesses (small and large) thrive in the digital economy.
Her focus this year is on helpfulness, and she’s been hard at work with her team to build helpful tools, products and features that lead to productivity, wellness and happiness. Whether it’s meeting with Canadian business leaders, advising nonprofits or mentoring, Sabrina is passionate about sharing her experience, and finding ways to propel Canada forward in the digital age.
Recently named "Woman of the Year" by WCT (Women in Communication Technology in Canada), it’s undeniable that Sabrina is not only paving the path forward, but continuing to inspire other women along the way.
How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech?
I'm the Country Manager for a company whose mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Our goal is to help Canadians find and get things done in the moments that matter, help businesses drive economic impact, and grow digital skills in Canada.
The most exciting part about leading Google in Canada is that we have here at home, amazing people and teams who are innovating and creating products that are helpful for users across the globe.
Was there something specific that pushed you toward your career in tech?
When I was 11, my big brother surprised me at Christmas with an IBM [email protected] model 50 computer. He said to me "you can play with this over the holidays" and walked out of the room. Now this was the 80s, and we’re talking first generation personal computing. The computer was enormous, weighed a ton, had a blinking cursor, and a floppy disk drive. I was both enthralled and intimidated. I unpacked it and started asking him questions like how to turn it on. Instead of coming to my rescue, he said "the plugs can only go into one place, you won't break it, figure it out". That lesson has stayed with me for over 30 years. I used this computer to write stories, play games, and eventually saved up enough to buy another computer. While I didn't go on to become a coder, I did have a University internship at Microsoft. My role there was to help explain their technology to their senior clients, and that’s the type of work I still do today.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The speed of technological transformation is intense, and this makes my job challenging but also exciting. Every day I’m connecting with Canadian businesses to showcase the opportunities that technology can offer. And a big part of digital transformation is anchored in investing in digital skills.
What is your favourite part of the job?
Solving complex problems with amazing people in Canada and beyond. And I love seeing how our products are helping people across the globe, my family included! My kids for example, are learning how to play the trumpet with their Grandpa who lives in Wales, thanks to the Google Home Hub.
What is your secret power that makes you successful?
I’m innately curious and an ‘always on learner’. Whether it’s brushing up on my technical skills or finding best practices from other parts of the world or learning from other amazing leaders, I like understanding how things work. In my job it’s like putting together a puzzle of a landscape that keeps evolving. In my 14 years at Google there’s never been a day where I haven’t learned something new.
Speaking of Canadian businesses - are there any businesses that inspire you?
I’m inspired to see how small businesses in Canada are thinking beyond our borders and expanding their businesses abroad. A great example of this is Peace by Chocolate. Originally from Syria, the Hadhad family came to Nova Scotia and re-built their family-run chocolate business. It’s now become a symbol of international peace and purchased by customers all across the globe.
What inspires you in your career?
The people I work with, inside and outside of Google, inspire me every day. I recently attended a graduation for Grow with Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate Program at the Toronto Public Library. I'm a big believer in the power of education, and by growing your digital skills so many more doors will open. Connecting with the graduates about their new skills and their career aspirations was extremely rewarding.
Tell us about a project that you're proud of!
Investing in digital skills for Canadians was one of the first things I wanted to do when I took this job. So I’m extremely proud of our Grow with Google program, which includes free training, tools and events for Canadians to grow their skills, career or business. Over the past few years we’ve gone to different cities across Canada and trained thousands of learners.
What advice would you give to women pursuing a career in technology?
Make digital skills a super power, no matter what industry you work in.