Google recently announced the rebrand of G Suite, introducing millions of customers around the world to Google Workspace. The person at the helm of the teams responsible for bringing the refresh to life is none other than Javier Soltero, who joined Google Cloud about a year ago as vice president. It didn’t take long for him to take the reins and bring the products that so many have grown to know and love to new heights. Today, he serves as vice president and general manager of Google Workspace.
His primary job is to oversee the organization, as well as grow customer subscriptions and drive product innovations across the business. But that’s just surface level as far as what he really does. “At heart,” Soltero said, “The work we do touches the lives of billions of individuals around the world—from students to professionals to everyday people—who use these products to communicate with colleagues and loved ones, but also to get things done.”
As the pandemic has made it much more important to do both, Soltero noted that he has seen firsthand the impact of the work he does and just how relevant it is in today’s world. “I have seen our customers endure a tremendous amount of change and disruption in their lives,” he said. “And in many cases, they looked to our products to help them provide a sense of continuity.” When asked what he believed was his biggest accomplishment in year one, he unabashedly responded, “We delivered.” He added, “It’s not just about having the right products. It’s about making those products even more broadly available than they were. I am most proud of the fact that at a moment when we ourselves are being tested, we rose to the occasion and delivered and are still delivering.”
Delivering Google Workspace: The Product the World Uses
After spending several years working at Microsoft and heading up its Cortana and Outlook products, Soltero joined the Google Cloud team in October of 2019. He tweeted, “The opportunity to work with this team on products that have such a profound impact on the lives of people around the world is a real and rare privilege. I’m excited to get to work.”
He already had a vision of where to take the product, even before the pandemic made its way into our lives. In fact, Soltero remarked that even before he got to Google the team was given the space to more broadly think about how to integrate the products that were already being used by customers. “Well before COVID-19, we were on a path toward what we now know as Google Workspace,” he said. “But we definitely made some adjustments in regard to Google Meet and with the prioritization we applied around video calling.”
Google Workspace has been designed to reframe people’s minds around what communication and collaboration should be like, and that, Soltero said, “is what’s really exciting.” He explained how G Suite was offered with each product—be it Google Sheets, or Google Drive, or any one of the other countless applications—in its own light. “But it was necessary to blur the boundaries between each category to be able to deliver the solutions our customers needed. That was important even before the pandemic, but even more so now that we see the value in doing so.”
Taking Google Workspace to New Heights
When Soltero announced Google Workspace, he described it as a solution that allows customers to get everything they need to get anything done, now in one place. He noted that Google Workspace includes all of the productivity apps customers have known and loved, including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and many more—now as a one-stop-shop. That’s a huge step in a different direction. I asked him what his goals were going forward and what customers should expect from Google Workspaceas it adapts to current conditions, but also evolves to meet new ones.
Soltero paused and commented that there were three goals he needed to focus on. The first was to make sure he and his team continue the path of innovation; the second is to better manage time and attention; and the third is to be mindful of human connection.
“We need to focus on what the future of communication and collaboration needs to look like,” he said. “These products all exist because the teams that designed them took a very different and opinionated approach to a lot of things that already existed at the time—whether it were email applications or word processors or spreadsheets.” He noted that Google has always taken a different approach when designing products, “and that’s something we need to continue doing.”
As for managing time and attention, and being mindful of human connection, Soltero said, “work is no longer a physical space we go to, and it becomes that much more important to remain focused in order to be effective. At the same time, as we continue being physically distant from each other, we need to think about ways we can stay connected.” He added, “With those three things in mind, we’re steering our product organization to new heights.”
Next Steps for the New Space We Create
As we all learn to adapt to the new reality COVID-19 has pushed us into, we turn to products like Google Workspace to help better adjust and get moving with our lives. Soltero noted that while he’s incredibly conscious of the responsibility that comes with serving billions of people around the world for such critical things, he has high confidence in the team he has put together and the way in which they operate and evolve the product.
“I am humbled by the fact that it has been an enormous responsibility,” he said. “I know that I don’t have all the answers, but I also know that it is my job to surface those answers and that I can do it with the help from the incredible, talented people I have around me.”
I asked Soltero what he would say to his team if he had to leave for a year without notice and would not have any other opportunity to communicate with them outside of this one message. He reflected and said, “Part of what I’ve been doing this year—alongside working on improving a lot of things in terms of the product experience and expanding its reach—is that I've tried to encourage a certain amount of soul searching. We have a very large team and I believe we have a shared set of beliefs when it comes to the work we do—the soul of the work we do is applied across the team.”
He added, “With that in mind, if I had one parting message to leave them with, it would be to remember to acknowledge that shared, core belief and to evolve it responsibly.”
Make sure to register for the upcoming conversation with Javier Soltero, taking place on Nov. 19. You can reserve your spot here. Don't delay—seats are limited.