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.

10 years in a personal drawing

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!