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C2C News, Google Cloud Partners

Board Moods: Bronwyn Hastings, Corporate Vice President, Global ISV Partnerships and Channels, Google

By Stephen C2C | September 11, 2023

From August 29-31, C2C will be onsite at Google Cloud Next '23 to meet face-to-face with the Google Cloud community and help our members connect with their peers and leaders in the cloud ecosystem. C2C is excited to take this opportunity to bring the C2C Board of Directors together in front of our broader network. For our members who will be joining us, as well as those of you who will be following along remotely, the Board Moods series is our effort to make our board members more accessible and available to the members they serve. In this installment of the series, we speak with Bronwyn Hastings, Corporate Vice President, Global ISV Partnerships and Channels, Google, about neurodiversity, regional diversity, and all things horsepower.


Tell me about something important to you outside of your career in technology.

I very much like to invest in younger people early in their careers. I don't call it mentoring, because I don't actually like that word. It's more to do with helping people understand early in their careers about not feeling like they have to be empowered. Soft skill development is as important as domain development. A role or a job description is just what's described versus how you make the job come to life. So really spending time with young or early-career people envisaging the potential of how they can build careers in different domains.

I spend a lot of time on neurodistinction and neurodiversity, the reason being my daughter had a very serious brain injury as a young adult, and it was very eye-opening. The journeys that anyone goes through, whether it's autism, or unseen injuries. My daughter now is a veterinarian. We do things like run help for autistic children with horse therapy. So it's trying to give back to the community in a way that also supports the younger people coming up to learn to be in the world with these unseen disabilities that quite often are very hard for them, because people don't see them to have that disability.

The third, fun thing is, I like anything with horsepower, whether it's horses, motorcycles, or cars. 

What do you think peer-to-peer professional communities can do to accommodate neurodiversity in their memberships?

At Google, what we did was we brought on some neurodistinct people and allowed them to talk from their perspective about what helps them be really productive people in the working world. They talk about how to make the workplace available, how to play to people's strengths.

I'll give you one story: I was in a different company where we were doing neurodiversity, and I remember so distinctly this young man came up, and he was so excited. He was talking to me and the CEO at the time. He was so excited, because he delivered something so impeccably well, and on time. Think about that. Why would someone get so excited about that? Because he had the space to do his best work by having by people allowing him to have what he needed to be neurodistinct and actually use his strengths rather than look at his gaps.

We are joining forces with a lot of the partnerships that we have, and we actually have formed a cohort that's focused on neurodiversity as a topic, and how we can bring common thinking to how neurodiversity can be supported in the workspace. Like, when people are being recruited, can you actually help them understand how to interview someone that is neurodiverse? You know, usually they won't get the interview process right in the same way. So how do you interview, and then when they're in the workplace, how do you allow for the neurodistinction? Some people might just need a quiet space. It's simple little things that can build up this neurodiverse inclusion process to make them feel like they're part of being able to contribute their best work.

This neurodistinct person that I was describing for you, he's an advocate at Google. There's an actual role on neurodistinct advocacy, and he works with the cities on how to bring this into syllabi. There's so many things you can do. We just try to chunk it down into, "how do we partner with purpose to have neurodistinction as a core element of how we can actually work as a cross-company team to bring these things to a real live environment, using some actual neurodistinct people to give us the guidance?" Not us thinking that's what we need to do, but actually letting them have the voice to guide us.

One of the business strategies you use is called Partnering with Purpose. Was Partnering with Purpose something that you personally developed? Did you bring it to Google?

I was part of creating Partnering with Purpose at SAP. While what we're doing at Google is different, the concept is similar. The concept was, two companies come together and are more purpose-driven in the core values of each company, and in what they do the business itself is always elevated and performs better. That was a concept at SAP, and Google has some underlying value systems with diversity, but also inclusion, and we took it a step further to say, suppose we break it up into buckets. One is the people side, and the other is sustainability, making sure you're creating a world that is continually doing good. We've linked it to things like what we call a Jumpstart Program. Underrepresented children coming out of college get put into these programs that allow them to learn the skills that would be relevant. Some of our partners are contributing to that.

In the Google context, we try to connect all of these things that are fundamental value systems to Google, and also bring partners into that, so it isn't an adjustment. It's something that I had been part of developing somewhere else and then took on board in Google to make it a priority for us as the way that we look at partnering as well, underpinning our relationships at the same time, not just business relationships but more purpose-driven relationships as businesses.

You've worked in a number of different global regions. What was the arc of your career journey, and how did you end up where you are today?

I'm originally South African. I went over to Australia, and in fact changed industries. I was actually an industrial chemist. I started from building a multi-route go-to-market business with some international companies that were coming into the APAC region. I started helping them build their presence. Logically, a lot of them started with some direct selling, but a lot of partnering. So that's where my domain and partnering strength came in, because APAC is such a partnering region.

Through that, I ended up in Oracle for a number of years, and in my Oracle journey, I went from a country-based role to a regional-based role to a global role, but also did 65 acquisitions at the global level, which gave me the best grounding in how other companies run. After that, I moved into SAP, where I did actually go from the global role back to a regional role when my daughter had her brain injury. I needed to actually step back a little bit, and Oracle was wonderful. They gave me the opportunity to be able to do that and supported me in that journey. And when I went to SAP, something happened. I was in an APAC role. I went into Singapore and ran Asia-Pacific, ran greater China partnering and growth strategies.

So, I lived in Hong Kong, and I have lived in the US twice on each coast. I spent a huge amount of time in Germany, and a lot of time in LATAM. So I'm very international in my thinking and understand how to bridge between global requirements and regional requirements. My personal thought process is, people in regional roles need to be able to bridge between the global strategy and the regional. It's always good business, but you have to have the nuance of how business is done on top of that, and be very cognizant of the cultural requirements. In my career, whenever something's in growth, in transformation, or in new areas of innovation, usually I would step into and help establish those high-growth areas.


What are the regional requirements in APAC that C2C should be aware of as they're trying to build those connections?


If you look at APAC, it is a very relationship-based environment. When we go in, usually we're going in straight. Here's the business. Here's what we need to do. What's important to understand is the challenges they face in a region that is unique that have to be incorporated, and those challenges could be anywhere.
If we talk about credit, we think about 30 days as standard. Going to China, 180 days is standard. How do you find those pieces that are so different, that you actually have to make part of the way you tell the story? How do you take care of the four to five things that are unique in China? I would represent the same baseline, but I add color. That makes it relatable for them. You've got to know the actual country norms, the norms of how business is done. And then find your connection to those country norms.

Coming from another country anyway when I started in APAC, I was very conscious of not necessarily feeling comfortable that I knew how all the businesses ran. I knew the business economics and knew good business models, but I could see the distinction straight away between even South Africa and Australia. You realize there is a difference, and you have to actually acknowledge that, because if you don't, you think you're saying the same thing, and you absolutely are not. So, it's not something that was automatic, but it was conscious. Because I was from another country.


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