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For Rich Jones, starting a finance podcast just made cents

26 February[ —]

In this post: Rich Jones, who works in people operations at Google, is the host of a personal finance podcast called "Paychecks & Balances." He hopes his show can help people learn from his mistakes — and now he's helping others start podcasts, too.

Several years ago, Rich Jones was on the hunt for personal finance podcasts. But none were right for him. “It felt like every podcast that I listened to either made me feel dumb, or made me feel like I was being lectured by an old white guy in a suit,” he says. “Or it just was really boring.” So he decided to create his own. 

These days, his podcast, “Paychecks & Balances,” has been downloaded more than two million times and recently won an award from the Plutus Foundation, which highlights excellence in financial media. He often records episodes from his Mountain View home in the early-morning hours, then logs on for his job working in People Operations at Google. 

For years, Rich has turned to the internet to express himself. But even though his name is, well, Rich, he didn’t first think of money as a topic to talk about. In fact, he had first blogged about relationships for several years, and then co-hosted a podcast called “2 Guys, 1 Show,” that was about more general topics, including money. 

Rich realized that if he felt lectured by finance podcasters, other people like him — and possibly younger people learning about money for the first time — likely felt the same way. So he and his co-host decided to focus on finances and rename the podcast “Paychecks & Balances.”  They wanted to reach out to younger versions of themselves — and Rich also wanted to represent people like him as well as reach them. “Even now, you won’t find a whole lot of Black men in the personal finance space in particular,” he says. “I think it’s important to be out there as a Black male and show a perspective that you might not be getting elsewhere.” 

For the current season of the show, Rich is hosting the show solo, and he’s continuing to share his own financial progress while also teaching others. When he started the show, he was grappling with credit-card debt after treating his cards like “free money.” Because of his experience, he knows to talk about money in a way that’s relatable and simple, for people just starting to manage their finances. “I don’t call myself an expert,” he says. “Podcasting is a medium for me to talk about my experience. And not just my successes, but the mistakes I’ve made along the way as well.”

It felt like every podcast that I listened to either made me feel dumb, or made me feel like I was being lectured by an old white guy in a suit.

Rich is constantly surprised that he keeps getting the same questions over and over — like how to balance a budget, or why not to sign up for a credit card in exchange for a free T-shirt. And over the past year, he’s seen friends fall prey to get-rich-quick scams and even try to sign him up. Rich says this is a symptom of a lack of financial education. “The interesting problem to me is: How do we close that gap where this information feels accessible to everyone, and people are accessing that information a lot sooner?” he says. 

With the growth of his podcast, Rich says people have come to him asking for advice on starting their own podcasts. So this month he launched a YouTube page, The Show Starter, which breaks down advice for people who might not have a technical audio background. “It’ll be a combination of tutorials, reviews and some motivational content, but not the cheesy, corny kind,” he says. “It’s very similar to the approach I take with personal finance topics, where I try to simplify things as much as possible and take out the jargon.” He hopes to one day expand his work into a multimedia company, with multiple brands under the “Paychecks & Balances” umbrella. 

Rich says both his podcast and his YouTube channel have the same goal: helping others. “While the podcast is about money, for me this has never been about the money,” Rich says. “I love seeing people achieve freedom in their lives, whatever that means for them. I think continuing to focus on that is what has kept people along for the ride.”

Furthering our work with HBCUs

26 February[ —]
Melonie Parker in a graduation cap and gown receiving her diploma from Hampton University.

Melonie Parker graduating from Hampton University, a historically Black research university in Hampton, Virginia.

We have a responsibility to not only increase representation of our workforce, but also work with higher education institutions to provide access and opportunities for underrepresented groups in the tech industry. As Google’s Chief Diversity Officer, it gives me great pride to continue our long-standing partnership with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUS) in order to achieve these goals.

For example, this year, we expanded our Grow with Google Career Readiness Program to 20 schools, and in our recent Tech Exchange cohort, 95% of students rated their overall experience as positive. We’ve also reached more than 4,000 students through our Google in Residence program. I’m proud that we’ve hired hundreds of students from HBCUs as a part of these joint efforts with our HBCU partners.

Now, we’re deepening our partnership with HBCUs with a new “Pathways to Tech” initiative, designed to build equity for HBCU computing education, help job seekers find tech roles, and ensure that Black employees have growth opportunities and feel included at work. To help us drive this work, we are working with HBCUs to form a tech advisory board that strengthens our existing partnership. The HBCU Tech Advisory Board is composed of four parts:

  1. HBCU Tech Advisory Board:The board will be involved in shaping “Pathways to Tech” efforts and will expand to include additional corporations in the future. 

  2. HBCU Presidents’ Council: Dr. Michael Lomax of UNCF and Dr. Harry Williams of TMCF will lead an HBCU Presidents’ Council, which will advise the board and ensure that we’re creating and executing meaningful programming that meets the needs of HBCU students.

  3. Joint Steering Committee: To set goals and drive this work forward, I will sit on a steering committee alongside Dr. Kamau Bobb, Global Lead, Diversity Strategy and Research at Google; Maria Medrano, Senior Director, Diversity Strategy at Google; Eric Hart, Chief Programs Officer at Thurgood Marshall College Fund; Chad Womack, Senior Director of STEM Programs and Initiatives; Angela Van Croft, Director, Corporations and Foundations at United Negro College Fund; and Alycia Onowho, Program Manager at Howard University.

  4. Internal Advisory Committee:I will lead an HBCU Advisory Committee that consists of senior vice presidents across Google, including product leaders and executives across Talent Acquisition, Grow with Google, Google.org and Engineering Education, to organize our efforts across the company. 

As we deepen our work together, here’s a look at some of the areas we’re focused on.

Helping to build equity for HBCU computing education 

We’ll continue to invest in programs that help students develop skills and immerse themselves in tech, and help universities and faculty establish the infrastructure and tools they need to support these students. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that when HBCU students graduate, they’ll have the skills they need to succeed in tech. 

This year, our Tech Exchange program will host 114 computer science majors, providing them with the opportunity to immerse themselves in coding classes at Google. This first-of-its-kind program is now in its fourth year, and we’ve continued to update, broaden and improve the program over the years. Through our Google in Residence program, which sends experienced Google Software Engineers to HBCU campuses for a semester to teach introductory computer science classes, we’ve reached more than 4,000 students. Through this initiative, students gain practical knowledge about what it’s like to work in the tech industry. 

Our Faculty in Residence program is an immersive professional development program that brings CS faculty from HBCUs and HSIs to Google for a four week summer residency, where they design project-based, industry-informed content and implement that content back in their classrooms.

Since 2017, we’ve invited more than 50 faculty members from 30 HBCUs to join the program.

Helping students find jobs in tech

We’ll also remain focused on helping HBCU students find and secure internships and jobs that will help them build successful careers. Last year, we launched the Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness Program, a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which brings Grow with Google digital skills training into the career centers of HBCUs. The program recently expanded to 20 HBCUs, and aims to help 20,000 students learn digital skills by the end of the current school year. As we have in the past, we’ll continue our HBCU Campus Outreach efforts to prepare students for the tech industry with resume workshops, mock interviews and opportunities for students to develop their soft skills and technical skills through events like coding challenges and hackathons.

Creating a workplace where everyone belongs 

For students who choose to pursue a career at Google, we’re also accelerating efforts to ensure every Googler — and in particular Black students and those from other underrepresented groups — experience Google as an inclusive workplace and have the opportunity to accelerate their careers. 

We have a responsibility to help provide access and opportunities for underrepresented talent to join the tech industry. Many of the initiatives we’re working on are the first of their kind in our industry. It’s so important that we keep this momentum going.

A Matter of Impact: February updates from Google.org

26 February[ —]

Editor’s note: Welcome to A Matter of Impact, Google.org’s monthly digest, where we highlight what the team’s been up to and spotlight some of the incredible nonprofits and Google.org Fellows helping solve some of society’s biggest challenges through technology and innovation. 

It didn’t take long for the effects of COVID-19 to reveal a devastating, but predictable, truth: the pandemic has had an outsized impact on marginalized groups, especially people of color. At Google.org, we aim to bring the best of Google to support underserved communities. So when we made a $100 million grant and 50,000 pro bono hour commitment to support COVID-19 relief, we focused our efforts on addressing the compounding racial and social inequities of this crisis. 

As we join forces to fight this pandemic, we must put equity at the center of our response and lift up our most vulnerable communities. Here you’ll find updates about our work that’s at the intersection of COVID-19 relief and equity and two themes that remain top priorities for us.

Equitable distribution of vaccines and health information

Data shows that COVID-19 affects people of color at much higher rates: about 71% percent of Black Americans and 61% of Hispanic Americans know someone who has died or been hospitalized from the virus compared to 48% of white Americans. Yet data also shows that Black Americans are getting vaccinated at lower rates than their peers. That’s why we have a team of Google.org Fellows working full-time with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine to help create a Health Equity Tracker to map and contextualize COVID-19 health disparities in communities of color throughout the U.S. We’re also committing $5 million in grants to organizations addressing racial and geographic disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations.

Support for minority-owned small businesses

Turning to the economy, reports have shown that 41% of Black-owned businesses — about 440,000 businesses — have shuttered due to COVID-19 compared to 17% of businesses owned by white people. To support minority business owners through the pandemic, we’ve supported Common Future with grant funding to provide capital and technical assistance to 2,000 women and minority small-business entrepreneurs in the U.S. We’ll also provide opportunities for Google volunteers to assist them with skill-based coaching and mentoring. 

Read the rest of our Google.org updates below.

In case you missed it 

Yesterday, leading academic organizations with support from a team of Google.org Fellows, shared the launch of Global.health, a data platform that helps model the trajectory of COVID-19 and future disease. Last month, we launched a Google.org Impact Challenge to help bridge the digital divide in Central and Eastern Europe, and announced $3 million in grants to help underserved communities in Kenya during a virtual summit with Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, and H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.

Hear from one of our grantees: Common Future

Rodney Foxworth is the CEO of Common Future, a network of leaders helping to build an economy that includes everyone. Last spring, Common Future received a $5 million Google.org grant to provide capital and technical assistance to women and minority small business entrepreneurs in the U.S. 

Headshot of Rodney Foxworth laughing in front of a red brick wall.

Rodney Foxworth is the CEO of Common Future, a Google.org grantee. 

“As we think about long-term COVID-19 recovery, we need to stabilize and uplift small businesses. Common Future, with support from Google.org, has been able to give grants to over 30 organizations that do just that. These entrepreneurial-support organizations (ESOs) that we supported serve roughly 2,000 small businesses across the U.S. — 76% of these organizations are run by people of color and 62% are run by women — and center on inclusive lending models. For example, a few organizations that we work with are pioneering character-based lending models, as many business-owners of color are excluded from the traditional banking sector due to traditional credit and collateral requirements.”

A few words with a Google.org Fellow: Colin Jackson

Colin Jackson is a product manager who recently completed a Google.org Fellowship with Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine. 

A headshot of Colin Jackson.

Colin Jackson is a Google.org Fellow with Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine.

“I grew up Black in America, but I was raised by a white family. This gave me a unique perspective on health inequity. I spent a lot of time in hospitals as a child since my little sister was diagnosed with cancer when she was two years old. In the midst of that pain I very quickly became aware of the different ways I was treated in medical spaces when I was alone compared to when I was with my family. Helping develop SHLI’s Health Equity Tracker was such a natural fit for me, and the experience was deeply rewarding. I felt like I was returning to those hospitals I spent so much time in as a child, but this time with the power to make a difference.”

Using AI to explore the future of news audio

25 February[ —]

Radio reaches more Americans every week than any other platform. Public radio stations in the United States have over 3,000 local journalists and each day they create audio news reports about the communities they serve. But news audio is in a similar place as newspaper articles were in the 1990s: hard to find, and difficult to sort by topic, source, relevance or recency. News audio can not delay in improving its discoverability. 

KQED is the most listened to public radio station in the United States, and one of the largest news organizations in the Bay Area. In partnership with Google, KQED and KUNGFU.AI, an AI services provider and leader in applied machine learning, ran a series of tests on KQED’s audio to determine how we might reduce the errors and time to publish our news audio transcripts, and ultimately, make radio news audio more findable. 

“One of the pillars of the Google New Initiative is incubating new approaches to difficult problems,” said David Stoller, Partner Lead for News & Publishing at Google “Once complete, this technology and associated best practices will be openly shared, greatly expanding the anticipated impact.” 

What makes finding audio so much harder?

In order for news audio to be searched or sorted, the speech must first be converted to text.  This added step is trickier than it seems, and currently puts news audio at a disadvantage for being found quickly and accurately. Transcription takes time, effort and bandwidth from newsrooms — not something that is in abundance these days. Even though there have been great advances in speech to text, when it comes to news, the bar for accuracy is very high. As someone who works to make KQED’s reporting widely available, it is frustrating when KQED’s audio isn’t prominent in search engines and news aggregators.

The challenge of correctly identifying who, what and where

For our tests, KQED and KUNGFU.AI, applied the latest speech-to-text tools to a collection of KQED’s news audio. News stories try to address the “five Ws:” who, what, when, where and why. Unfortunately, because AI typically lacks the context in which the speech was made (i.e. identity of the speaker, location of the story), one of the most difficult challenges of automated speech-to-text is correctly identifying these types of proper nouns, known as named entities. KQED’s local news audio is rich in references of named entities related to topics, people, places, and organizations that are contextual to the Bay Area region. Speakers use acronyms like “CHP” for California Highway Patrol and “the Peninsula” for the area spanning San Francisco to San Jose. These are more difficult for artificial intelligence to identify.

When named entities aren’t understood, machine learning models make their best estimation of what was said. For example, in our test, “The Asia Foundation” was incorrectly transcribed as “age of Foundations” and “misgendered” was incorrectly transcribed as “Miss Gendered.”  For news publishers, these are not just transcription errors, but editorial problems that change the meaning of a topic and can cause embarrassment for the news outlet. This means people have to go in and correct these transcriptions, which is expensive to do for every audio segment. Without transcriptions, search engines can't find these stories, limiting the amount of quality local news people can find online.

An illustration showing a new proposed process for audio transcription where the human correcting the mistakes in the first version helps inform it to make the transcription more clear, accurate for the future.

A machine learning ↔ human ↔ machine learning feedback loop

At KQED, our editors can correct common machine learning errors in our transcripts. But right now, the machine learning model isn’t learning from its mistakes. We’re beginning to test out a feedback loop in which newsrooms could identify common transcription errors to improve the machine learning model. 

We're confident that in the near future, improvements into these speech-to-text models will help convert audio to text faster, ultimately helping people find audio news more effectively. 

Let’s finalize an international tax deal

25 February[ —]

For several years, governments around the world have been meeting at the OECD to reform the international corporate tax system. Not surprisingly, success hasn’t come quickly. This isn’t an easy task – but it remains a critical one. As the world economy seeks to recover from the global pandemic and governments face new fiscal pressures, an agreed solution is needed now more than ever to ensure a durable framework for cross-border trade and investment.

Tomorrow’s meeting of G20 finance ministers represents an important opportunity to give this process new momentum. For the new Biden Administration, the meeting represents a chance to underscore its commitment to the OECD-led multilateral process and to fair, comprehensive, and coordinated changes to corporate tax policies. And it represents an equally important opportunity for finance ministers from France, the UK, India, Indonesia, and other leading economies to commit to end the headlong rush to discriminatory tax measures that we’ve seen in recent years and work with the U.S. on a durable agreement.

The central question is less about how much corporate income tax companies pay than where they pay it. For Google’s part, our effective tax rate over the past decade has exceeded 20% of our profits, in line with average statutory tax rates. While we’re one of the largest corporate taxpayers in the world, roughly 80% of our corporate income tax has been due in the United States, where Google was founded and where most of our products are developed. The concentration of our tax obligations in our home market mirrors many other multinational companies spanning various industries and countries; foreign firms operating in the U.S. and other countries, for example, also pay the majority of their corporate income taxes in their home countries.

These tax practices are the product of international rules – specifically, international tax treaties that historically have attributed a smaller share of profits to the countries where products and services are consumed, leaving the bulk of taxing rights to the countries where products and services are created.

We have long supported efforts to update international tax rules to arrive at a system where more taxing rights are shifted to countries where products and services are consumed. So, U.S. exports, including a range of technologies, might incur more income tax abroad, while foreign companies exporting to the U.S. would pay more to the U.S. public purse. Like any good agreement, this will require a healthy amount of give-and-take.

Unfortunately, in the absence of multilateral consensus, the world has seen the growth in recent years of taxes targeted at foreign companies. Most prominently, we have seen the growth of so-called “digital services taxes” that aim to raise revenue from a small subset of firms, narrowly defined by revenue thresholds and business models. This selective approach has sparked tensions between the U.S. and some of its allies, pushing countries toward trade disputes that could further damage fragile economies.

Some of the countries imposing these targeted taxes claim they help build momentum for broader international tax reform. But these digital services taxes are complicating efforts to reach a balanced agreement that works for all countries – they’re simply laying claim to income that would otherwise be taxed in the U.S. We encourage these governments to roll back what are essentially tariffs or, at a minimum, suspend them while negotiations continue.

The next few months will test commitments countries have made to reinvigorate international cooperation. Left on the current trajectory, tax discord could quickly yield beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism that would weaken cooperation on many issues. But serious steps forward – starting with the rescission or suspension of existing unilateral taxes – could create new momentum for multilateralism, supporting collaboration on many other important fronts. We urge countries to work together on this critical project, building a firmer foundation for international cooperation in the 21st Century.

Three easy ways to support Black-owned businesses

25 February[ —]
Image of Marcus Davis, owner of The Breakfast Klub, standing in front of a mural.

Marcus Davis, owner of The Breakfast Klub.

As a Black businessman and owner of The Breakfast Klub for nearly 20 years, I’ve seen a lot of things and overcome a breadth of adversity —  from the 2007 recession and Hurricane Harvey to, most recently, the snowstorms in Texas and the pandemic. It should come as a surprise to no one that 2020 dealt an entirely new set of challenges. Challenges that, unfortunately, have affected the Black community disproportionately. 

Through said challenges, we’ve also heard a rallying cry. Many Americans have come together to lift us up and support our businesses. As we continue to reflect, teach, learn and grow together throughout 2021, I am offering three easy steps you can take to help support the Black-owned businesses in your community beyond the end of Black History Month:

1. Be intentional 

The best tip I can share to help support Black-owned businesses in your community is to start with an open mindset. If the intent and the willingness to help are there, then you’ve already taken a big step in supporting these businesses. 

There’s an old saying that says, “when America catches a cold, a Black man catches a flu.” The barriers that minority communities face are currently being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, Black-owned businesses have closed at double the rate of white-owned businesses due to the pandemic. This is a direct reflection of the unconscious bias that exists in America today, and further proves why mindfulness is so important. 

Do the research. Understand the opportunity and the need. And be deliberate and intentional in showing up for the Black-owned businesses in your community. 

2. Show your support in whichever way works best for you

Once you’ve made the decision to support Black-owned businesses, there are so many ways you can help uplift them. 

You can show up for the business by ordering takeout, delivery, goods and gift cards online. If you can’t afford to regularly spend money on the goods and services these businesses offer, you can also upload photos or leave a positive review on their Business Profile on Google Search and Maps. Word of mouth and positive affirmations help us keep our heads high and our doors open.

3. Exercise patience

During The Breakfast Klub’s first year providing breakfast to the Houston community, we had a customer who kept supporting us as we figured out how to gracefully support our customers. He’d come in and say, “Hey, I see you trying. And as long as you keep trying to get it right, I’m here for you.” His patience meant the world to us as we figured out how to operate our business. 

A lot of small businesses hadn’t been exposed to certain challenges and business opportunities prior to the pandemic. For restaurants, transitioning to curbside pickup and delivery isn’t just a flip of a switch. (If you’re a Houston-based business owner, there’s an upcoming free training that can help make this switch a little easier.)

You can help rebuild your neighborhood by showing patience for Black-owned businesses as they try to sustain themselves through a very tough time. If you’re not sure which businesses in your community are Black-owned, Google is a great place to start. By searching for Black-owned restaurants, clothing stores, salons — you name it — you’re already taking the first step. 

Using artificial intelligence in breast cancer screening

25 February[ —]

Every year, approximately 40 million women undergo breast-cancer screening in the U.S. using a procedure called mammography. For some, this can be a nerve-wracking experience; many wait days or weeks before a radiologist can review their scan and provide initial screening results. Between 10 and 15 percent of women must return for a second visit and undergo more scans before receiving a final diagnostic assessment – drawing out the process further. 

Together with Northwestern Medicine, Google Health is working on a new clinical research study to explore whether artificial intelligence (AI) models can help reduce the time to diagnosis, narrowing the assessment gap and improving the patient experience. 

Women who choose to take part in the study may have their mammograms reviewed by an investigational AI model that flags scans for immediate review by a radiologist if they show a higher likelihood of breast cancer. If a radiologist determines that further imaging is required, the woman will have the option to undergo this imaging on the same day. This study will evaluate whether this prioritization could reduce the amount of time that women spend waiting for a diagnostic assessment.  Women whose mammograms are not flagged will continue to have their images reviewed within regular timeframes. 

“Through this study, Northwestern Medicine aims to improve the excellent care we deliver to our patients every day. With the use of artificial intelligence, we hope to expedite the process to diagnosis of breast cancer by identifying suspicious findings on patients’ screening examinations earlier than the standard of care,” says study principal investigator Dr. Sarah Friedewald, chief of breast imaging at Northwestern Medicine and vice chair for women's imaging in radiology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “Every patient in the study will continue to have their mammograms interpreted by a radiologist, but the artificial intelligence will flag and prioritize patients that need additional imaging, facilitating the flow of care.”

This research study with Northwestern Medicine builds on previous research which demonstrated the potential of AI models to analyze de-identified retrospectively collected screening mammograms with similar or better accuracy than clinicians. 

Artificial intelligence has shown great potential to improve health care outcomes; the next challenge is to demonstrate how AI can be applied in the real-world. At Google Health, we’re committed to working with clinicians, patients and others to harness advances in research and ultimately bring about better and more accessible care. 

From managing Google Poland to leading Google for Startups

25 February[ —]

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Agnieszka Hryniewicz-Bieniek, the Global Director of Google for Startups. She shares what it was like to first serve as Country Manager for Google Poland and eventually move to a new team focused on supporting startups in the region and around the world.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Agnieszka Hryniewicz-Bieniek, but please call me Agni. During my first 11 years at Google, I first managed a sales team for a few years before going on to serve as the Country Manager. Later, I was promoted to Country Director for Poland, a position I held for nearly six years. Then, I led Google for Startups in the region as the Head of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) prior to my current role as the Global Director of Google for Startups. I like to say that I used to represent my country in Google, and now I advocate for startups around the world within Google.

While my non-linear career path has spanned fast-moving consumer goods, telecommunications, banking, publishing, entertainment and technology, two things have remained constant: I love applying my knowledge from one industry to another to learn and discover new perspectives, and I thrive when helping other entrepreneurs pursue their dreams.

What was it like transitioning from Country Director for Google Poland to the Google for Startups team?

My transition came naturally because, for a long time, Google Poland felt like a startup itself. When I started in 2008, we had a team of only 10 people. By the time I left, Google Poland had more than 500 employees and had just signed a deal in Poland to build a local Google Cloudregion to ensure that all Polish companies have access to Cloud technology. 

I still love leading small, agile teams in big organizations to drive high impact — and Google for Startups is exactly that. Managing such a multicultural and international team is a unique opportunity to hone my own skills while supporting startups in over 125 countries around the world. 

Agni standing on a stage, addressing an audience. Behind her is a slide that says “Agni Bieniek, Director Google for Startups.”

Agni speaking at our annual Trailblazers Summit.

How did the recruitment process go for you?

I appreciated that my interviews were dialogues. They felt more like interesting conversations. I was thrilled to speak to Googlers from Turkey, Germany and the United States. They each brought a fresh point of view to the conversation, and I knew that I wanted to work with international colleagues to broaden my own perspectives. 

What do you wish you’d known before applying?

Actually, I will reverse that question — I am so glad I didn’t know more! I applied based on curiosity, which kept my mind open and positive. I encourage applicants to be more curious, more open and more sincere when thinking about their careers.

Even when I applied for the head of Google for Startups role, I knew I was taking a risk. You design your own path — don’t let someone else design it for you. 

OurAI Principles prioritize creatingtechnology that’s socially beneficial. How does this keep you inspired?

Founders keep us on our toes because they have a high level of awareness of how Google technology and products work. Not only is supporting entrepreneurs the right thing to do because it makes good business sense, Google for Startups is the gateway to supporting founders of all backgrounds as they grow the businesses that will shape our world. That’s why we’re proud to have initiatives such as the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, which provides equity-free cash awards to Black-led startups in the U.S, Brazil and Europe

I’ve seen firsthand how digital transformation and startup ecosystems can transform economies for the better. Poland is part of Central Eastern Europe, a region that has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Growth was initially fueled by traditional industries, but entrepreneurship has really put CEE on the map. I’d love to do the same for other emerging regions around the globe.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

Ultimately, the company you work for is more important than the role itself. The company fosters the culture that will create your professional experience. Rather than getting hung up on a job title or moving up the ladder, consider the opportunities that the organization may open for you. Do you connect with the people, and do they share your values? Who you work with is just as important as who you work for. 

South Africa is an explorer’s paradise

25 February[ —]

Nelson Mandela once described South Africa as the most beautiful place on earth, with its breathtaking scenery, wildlife safaris, active adventures, vibrant culture and friendly people. I’m thrilled to announce that, starting today, you can explore what makes the country so spectacular through our new online exhibition — South Africa: an explorer’s paradise. Through over 500 high-resolution photographs and videos, 20 expertly-curated stories and 60 Street Views, you can join a safari to meet lions and elephants, or feel the rhythm of the cities and visit ancient geological sites. Step inside the oldest caves in the world and zoom into vast savannas, lush forests and sparkling oceans. 

Here are four places to start:

A lioness in Kruger National Park

A lioness photographed on a night drive at the Kruger National Park, from the collection of South African Tourism

Aerial view of Hole in the Wall in the Eastern Cape, from the collection of South African Tourism

Aerial view of Hole in the Wall in the Eastern Cape, from the collection of South African Tourism

1. Meet the Big Five in the South African bush  

South Africa is famous for its awe-inspiring safaris, which allow visitors to experience the raw wonder of nature. Part of what makes the experience so special is the opportunity to see the Big Five: lions, leopards, buffalos, rhinos and elephants. Get to know these remarkable animals through exhibitions like Superstars of the South African Bush, or explore breathtaking views of the South African bushveld in Game Drives: A South African Experience.
White River Rafting

White River Rafting in Free State, South Africa, from the collection of South African Tourism

2. Explore the country’s hidden gems

Do you know the myth of Hole in the Wall, about a young woman who falls in love with a sea deity? Or that Table Mountain is home to species that can’t be found anywhere else on earth, like the Table Mountain Ghost Frog? Get to know some of our country’s best kept secrets.

the Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga

View of the Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga, from the collection of the South African Tourism Board

3. Take a virtual active adventure

If you’re the outdoorsy sort, South Africa has a lot to offer, from multi-day hikes and panoramic mountain views to rock climbing and rafting down roaring waters. Be sure to Head over to the Place of Great Noise where the raging waters of the Augrabies Falls  meet the Orange River, South Africa’s longest river.

4. Travel to 60 locations with Google Street View

Use Street View to explore South Africa’s most breathtakingly beautiful sites: Visit Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain; experience the rocky plains of the Cederberg, where you can view the five-meter-high Maltese Cross; or amble through the lush Big Forest Tree Walk, taking in the ancient foliage around you.

For us at South African Tourism, today marks the start of formalizing a relationship and partnership with Google that will play a crucial part in the sector’s recovery. We know that digitally-led is the norm and through our partnership we hope to equip the sector with the necessary skills to thrive and adapt in a digital environment.

Curious to see more? Check out g.co/sharesouthafrica or download the Google Arts & Culture app.

VaxCare simplifies vaccine management with Android Enterprise

25 February[ —]

Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Evan Landis, Chief Product Officer with VaxCare. The company aims to simplify vaccination for healthcare providers. VaxCare partnered with Social Mobile to create custom devices managed with Android Enterprise for its customers. 

The intense worldwide effort to vaccinate against COVID-19 has highlighted some of the core challenges that have always existed in expanding protections against preventable diseases.  

At VaxCare, our mission for more than 10 years has been to simplify vaccination programs, easing the logistical barriers to increasing vaccination rates. Our digital platform is designed to help healthcare professionals modernize their vaccination programs, reduce costs and focus on their patients. 

Android devices are central to this strategy. Recently, we partnered with Social Mobile who designed and built bespoke, Google Mobile Services-certified devices that interface with our digital platform. The flexibility of Android Enterprise enabled us to build solutions aligned to our customer needs with simple, flexible management and security tools.

A better customer experience with Android

Social Mobile helped us create custom devices that are simple to set up, use and update, while still meeting HIPAA and HITRUST certification compliance. We were inspired by consumer-facing, point-of-sale devices and the flexibility of the Android platform to create an ideal hardware solution for our customers. 

The VaxCare Hub is our stationary, in-practice integrated device with a 13-inch touchscreen, a camera and a scanner that is the main gateway to our platform. When vaccinating patients, healthcare providers scan the dose and view the vaccine and patient information, ensuring accuracy before administering the vaccine. 

As a dedicated device tied to our service, healthcare providers always have access to quickly look up the status of their inventory and get updates on new vaccine shipments.

vaxcare hub

The VaxCare Hub, a custom device powered by Android Enterprise, is the key portal to our service.

To design for the new contexts and places where vaccines are administered, we also worked with Social Mobile to create the VaxCare Mobile Hub. This smaller dedicated Android Enterprise device also connects to our Portal service and gives healthcare providers the flexibility to get the information they need no matter where they are administering vaccines.

vaxcare mobile hub

The VaxCare Mobile Hub helps our customers ensure accurate vaccine administration.

Having this vital information readily available in this purpose-built, rugged device has produced efficiency for our network of over 10,000 providers. Since launching the Mobile Hub device in September 2020, they administered over 650,000 flu shots during the 2020 season.  One partner practice saw their immunization rates increase 54 percent year-over-year.

Flexible management solutions

Android Enterprise provides comprehensive tools for rapid and secure device enrollment and flexible management, which we enable for our devices through Social Mobile’s Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) platform, Mambo.  

With zero-touch enrollment, we enable a quick and simple device startup experience for customers. After unboxing and powering on the device, it’s automatically enrolled and configured for use with our application. Devices are managed in lock task mode, which locks a device to a specific set of apps, so customers are always connected to our VaxCare Portal.

Security and privacy are critical to any healthcare setting. As a device with Google Mobile Services, the VaxCare Hub and Mobile Hub use Android multi-layered security to continually monitor and protect critical data. We have confidence in the platform security features to ensure we meet the security and privacy promise we make to our customers.

Help for a vaccine surge

With Android Enterprise, we’ve set ourselves up to scale as we see an increased demand for vaccines and offerings like VaxCare. We've been able to quickly bring online support for our partners in the public phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. We’ve optimized our platform to assist any of our providers who enroll in a public vaccination program to manage inventory, record-keeping and billing. 

As we continue our mission of helping the healthcare community more simply deliver vaccines, we’re confident that Android and Social Mobile’s custom solutions will continue to be a major component of our hardware and software strategy to support the healthcare community.

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