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and Inclusion (DEI), Diversity, C2C Community Spotlight, Equity

Problem-Solving and Organizational Change at Google Culture of Innovation in New York

By Stephen C2C | September 7, 2022

"The biggest problem was having to be in office at all times while balancing at home having an elderly dog," said En-Szu Hu-Van Wright, Talent Operations Manager at Chili Piper, outside the Zoetrope Event Studio on the thirteenth floor of the Google Chelsea Market office in New York, New York. "The solution we came up with was creating a hologram of the receptionist, coupled with a robot that would do a lot of the basic duties and functions, because a lot of these things could be done by a robot."

En-Szu does not have an elderly dog, but in a group activity during C2C's recent Google Culture of Innovation event in New York City, she played the role of a receptionist at an ad agency who did. The group's assignment was to create an innovative solution that would prepare En-Szu - - or her character - - for a future of work in which she could staff the reception desk and take care of her dog at the same time. In another group, Crucita Gonzalez, Director of HR Benefits and Wellbeing at Planned Parenthood, and Jake Owens of Google designed a home workspace that eliminates distractions and non-essential communications so Crucita could separate her work life from her home life without commuting two hours both ways to the office every day.

After discussing theoretical solutions during the workshop, the guests convened outside the studio to share current projects. Boris Sotnikov ( @bSotnikov ), CEO of KraftyLab, a company that runs virtual team-building events for companies with remote and hybrid office models, offered En-Szu Hu-Van Wright some strategies for connecting and engaging members of remote teams. Kristian Smilenov ( @kristian.smilenov ) of Prime Holding, a development company that builds cloud-based software for US-based startups and scaleups, exchanged ideas about solution delivery and vendor client relationships with Geoff MacNeil of Crowdbotics.

Guests in conversation between sessions at
Google Culture of Innovation in New York

The small-group innovation workshop was a condensed version of a full-length session Angel D'Souza, Cloud Culture & Recognition Program Manager at Google Cloud, often leads at Google events. Bringing the workshop to this audience of Googlers and customers was refreshing for Angel. "What was really cool about this opportunity was it was one-to-many, so not only did [the customers] get to learn from Google, but they got to learn from each other, and we got to learn from them," she said. Jessie Hochhalter, who opened the program with a discussion of the history and evolution of Google's company culture, felt similarly: "Typically when we talk to our customers, especially in a one-to-many format, it tends to be about product, so I really like the fact that we got to talk about the people, the processes, the culture, the DEI, those sorts of things, and not just talk about the product and what's next with Google technology."

Between Jessie's and Angel's segments, Jessica Guerrero, Google's Global Head of Cloud GTM Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), led a discussion using the principles of DEI to complicate the framework Jessie's presentation introduced. A consistent focus on DEI was part of what made the event stand out to the attendees as well. "We're getting a different perspective on how Google is attacking DEI from a larger company, and taking some of their best practices as a result," said Dana Barrett, Vice President of Human Resources at Cureatr.

The most important question the event raised for SADA Director of Strategic Information John Taranu was the question of how Google Cloud customers can make the transition from evaluating their own organizational cultures to bringing about change within them. "The Google innovation story, and the way it's being told, is, I think, something every company is trying to do," he said. To succeed, he explained, customers need a "shepherd" - - someone to guide them through the process of implementing cultural change. One group that can play that role, he suggested, is Google partners.

Chatting with John during the reception, Jessica Guerrero elaborated on her presentation by laying out three paths to changing the culture within a company: leadership from the top, structural alignment within the organization, and revolution - - change from the bottom up. John is partial to the second option, having seen it come about successfully at SADA and at Google Cloud, where he worked for five years previously. He doesn't rule out revolution, however. "Some of the greatest change in human society has happened through revolutions," he said, "but they are chaotic."


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