Q&A with Margo Georgiadis, Google

1. Can you share some insight into your career and one lesson that has motivated you?

My career was never a straight line. I didn’t always know where I was going, but as I moved from music to academia to business, I always carried the advice my father gave me when I left for college: major in professors, not classes. No matter where I was or what I was doing, I made it a priority to focus on engaging and working with people who were shapers, the ones pushing boundaries.

It’s helped me push my thinking and growth – as well as putting me in the path of new opportunities. And it ultimately brought me to Google, a company that epitomizes focusing on the future.

2. You believe in constantly challenging yourself – how has the idea of personal disruption helped you and your team at Google?

I always tell my teams to embrace the uncomfortable. It’s easy to stay in a place where you are the expert, but I’ve found that uncomfortable situations are where the most learning takes place. One of my favorite quotes is from Ray Kroc, “When you’re green you’re growing, when you’re ripe you rot.”

As a leader, I focus on creating an environment where my team feels comfortable taking bold risks. I believe in creating a culture that rewards thinking big, demonstrating resilience, and providing psychological safety. If you think 10x vs 10%, it makes the inevitable twists, turns and failures worth the effort. We openly celebrate both the successes and what we learn from mistakes along the way.

3. Why is innovation so important to the success of Google?  What is the secret to fostering innovation?

Technology is changing our lives at an unprecedented pace. The most successful players – across all industries – are using non-traditional combinations of talent and creativity to create breakthroughs and gain speed. At Google, we believe in truly disruptive thinking – pushing the boundaries by putting the user first and reimagining how we can make lives simpler and easier with the power of connectivity and computing.

We started with organizing the world’s information, and have expanded to areas such as rethinking healthcare and disease management and how we work. Everything has to pass the “toothbrush test” – identifying something that nearly everyone does every day (like brush their teeth) and making it transformationally better.

4. How can we get more girls interested in technology?

As the mom of a daughter, a woman in business and the lead for Google’s women’s network, I know we need more women at the forefront of technology. Research shows that there are four factors that influence a girl’s decision to pursue a career in science & technology: encouragement, career perception, self-perception and academic exposure. The key to making progress is to increase awareness and influence across the entire environment that supports girls today, from parents to teachers to peers.  

Margo will serve as the keynote speaker for the Chicagoland Chamber’s 112th Annual Meeting on June 7. Click here for more information.