5 February 2017
10 years at Google
Ouch. Ten years. Ten years exactly that I have spent working at Google. It’s difficult for me to measure the breadth of that time span. It’s a bit daunting too. As I have done over the past five years (here is the post I wrote last year), I will attempt to draw some observations from my experiences gathered over that tenth year.
Looking back, it has been the most difficult year in my career. Some attempts at changing things were not met with success, however detailed and structured I felt my proposals were. Not managing to convince happens to everyone of course; and I cannot be so negative as to paint it all black, as some suggestions were in fact implemented. Yet overall it feels as if a lot of the energy I put in considering options, shaping strategies, talking to various colleagues ended up to partial waste. I unfortunately cannot go into the details of those concrete plans I had built, alone or with others on my team or with adjacent teams, on a number of fronts, whether they touch upon international strategies or team structures.
I am of course grateful that I even had the opportunity to explore and suggest those alternative approaches. At the same time, I clearly felt the lack of power in my hands, which makes rising the ranks perhaps worthwhile – although getting the required support also means I have to be careful not to make anyone feel threatened with my constant thinking and desire to make things better, as one of my mentors suggested.
The additional reason for a difficult year was the departure of a number of individuals from my team and from my wider organisation. Again, people leaving teams and companies happens all the time. This time round, I had the impression that it was one too many, in particular when it comes to some of the best elements of the team. I suffer undoubtedly from some nostalgia combined with a bittersweet sentiment of having to let go of my “babies”, after having invested myself significantly in supporting their careers, sometimes their personal lives even.
On a brighter note, my work continues to be a fantastic opportunity to discover new people and be involved in exciting projects. I’ll mention three things briefly, in no particular order.
First of all, I fine-tuned a couple of the trainings I had built in my spare time on “email and time management” as well as on “an introduction to automation” (with Google Apps Script) – and let people sign up internally to my sessions. Not only was it satisfying to get better at my inevitable jokes which intersperse my fast-paced presentations but it was also gratifying to read the positive feedback and the good ratings from participants. Personal goal: release an external, enriched version of those presentations.
Secondly, since a notable fraction of my work consists in building internal and external relationships, I was in a position to provide advice, coaching and consulting on a number of international projects. I would love to say more about them but alas, it’s confidential for the most part! Personal goal though : get better at not doing everything pro bono, since some of those initiatives are external and eat up a big chunk of my remaining spare time.
And finally, I am very pleased to have discovered a new friend in a colleague, Dirk, and managed to have launched with him a full-blown project very quickly. That project, which I mentioned in a previous post, is the debate podcast in which Dirk and I debate on current topics along a structured format (not more than 6 minutes each). After 2,000 downloads of our bi-weekly episodes, I can’t wait to get more reviews (glowing only, of course!).
Let’s see what the next year holds!