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Interview, C2C Community Spotlight, DEI, Careers in Cloud

Women in Cloud: Chanel Greco

By Alex Maksymec | March 23, 2022

Communities grow and thrive when they lift up all of their members to succeed. Part of that undertaking is to recognize structural imbalances and to turn to their historically marginalized members to lead.

To celebrate Women's History Month and the contributions of women in the world of cloud technology, C2C is highlighting conversations with leaders who will guide our future. Every Tuesday this March, we will publish an interview with one of the many women driving change and giving direction in the C2C community.


This interview is with Chanel Greco, ( @chanelgreco ), CEO and founder of saperis. Chanel is also one of C2C's earliest actively participating members and has previously provided support to activities in C2C Connect: DACH.


You're in a video call with people you haven't yet met. How would you introduce yourself?


Well, first thing is: I have to say my name, because a lot of people aren't sure how to pronounce it. I'm Chanel Greco (ʃəˈnɛl ˈgrɛkoʊ).

Then, I usually say I'm a Google Workspace expert. I'm the CEO and Founder of saperis, a company that helps our customers become Google Workspace pros.


Tell me about your education, your experience, and your tech path. Have you earned any certifications? Are there any you felt like you needed?


To give a quick overview, I do not have a classical university degree. I grew up and went to school in Switzerland and we mainly have a system of apprenticeships. I enrolled in an apprenticeship to become an office clerk, working three days per week there and using two other days per week to go to business school.

That was my first round of education. After that, I pretty quickly transitioned into IT, taking a lot of extra courses in my free time on weekends learning about computer technology. I also visited a coding bootcamp. So I've done a lot of different courses�� - mainly non-university courses�� - and have some degrees and certificates from universities in digital marketing and project management, which was useful when I was an IT project manager. 

I have no specific certifications for any Google Cloud applications, so what I do now has mainly come from a lot of IT experience and learning on the job.


How did you get started with Google Cloud?


I had used Google Workspace - or as it was known back then, GSuite - in different companies I worked for. Startups in Switzerland sometimes used it, and I also used it when working as a developer. 

When I was working as a coding teacher at a coding bootcamp, we were asked if we could provide training for Google Apps Script, which is used specifically for scripting light applications in Google Workspace. That's the first time I came into contact with Google Cloud-based technology; I really stumbled upon it and had no idea what it was. Since it looked like a programming language that I know (Javascript), I instantly said "yes" to hosting the training session. But I really didn't know what Google Cloud was back then, and only now do I know Apps Script is part of that full platform.


When you think back on your career, what stories can you share that demonstrate what it means to be a woman in tech?


I definitely have stories. I got into tech about 15-16 years ago at a time before the "Me Too" movement rightfully came up. You can imagine the jokes I heard being the only woman usually in an all-male team. That wasn't always funny. Sometimes, I was the subject of the jokes, and being very young I didn't have the courage to speak up and say "that's not right," and it wasn't the professional setting I wanted to work in.

It was tough being the only woman on the team. Being made fun of and hearing comments like, "Oh, Chanel has no idea what she's talking about, but at least she's cute" is never something you would hear when talking about a male colleague, but it was okay to talk like that about a female colleague. 


Have you ever felt "imposter syndrome"? How do you deal with it?


Imposter syndrome was a very real thing. In my experience, I felt pressure to just go along with things while having no idea what was happening. Being bullied leads to being scared to speak up, and it's hard to bring up anything in work that you don't understand or ask someone to further explain what they mean. I very often had the feeling that I must be the only one at the table that wasn't understanding something, which is where the imposter syndrome comes into play. 

Only later did I find out that sometimes male colleagues, too, didn't understand. But they gave me the feeling that they knew everything and I alone knew nothing.

Nowadays, it's different because I have the courage to ask someone to repeat something, or honestly say I didn't understand something. I can own any lack of knowledge and say, "let me do my homework and I'll get back to you." 


How do you want to change the world?


That's a big question! I don't think I want to change the world, but I do want to be the person that another girl or young woman sees and says, "If she made it in tech, I can do it, too." Before I started my education, I was already very interested in computer technology, but I decided not to go that route because I only knew men signing up for that education. It was also at a time when my parents' friends had no women in their circle that worked in tech that I could look up to or ask about their experiences.

So my big goal is to be visible for all the girls and young women who want to transition into tech and aren't sure if it's for them. I want to help them find their route and to be there and say, "Hey, I did it, and I'm no genius. But if I did it, you can, too." That's also why I go to women's hackathons or special sessions dedicated to teaching coding to girls.


Inspire me! What advice would you give someone interested in a career like yours?


Very important: believe in yourself.

People shy away from tech because they think it's too complex, or they're not good at math, or others in the field are much smarter. It's something that I remember being told - a lot of girls may have heard in school that boys are better at math anyway, so girls should stick to languages or whatever isn't a typical STEM subject.

But if you believe in yourself, it's not like you can move mountains, but almost! So you can do things yourself that other people wouldn't give you the potential to do. If you're interested, don't listen to the negativity from others and just give it a go.


Can you share one reason why you are optimistic about 2022 and the outlook for women in Google Cloud, in your region and beyond?


Specifically concerning Google Cloud, you can see that Google puts a lot of effort into diversity. They don't want to be too exclusive to that typical male, white elite. It's for everyone and it has a lot of different objectives.

Beyond that, it starts from home. It might not be the same tech community as when it started twenty years back, but if every one of us is an example and reaches out to help other people, then we can build better communities to empower more female tech professionals and be more diverse in general. 


Looking for more in this series? Check out these other interviews with women in Google Cloud technology.



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