Meet Googler Síofra Harnett, Head of Global Supplier Diversity at Google
Síofra Harnett leads the Supplier Diversity program at Google, which aims to connect minority-, women-, veteran-, persons with disabilities-, and LGBT-owned businesses to opportunities in the company. Síofra grew up in Ireland and earned a Bachelor of Science in Financial Mathematics and Economics from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She then earned a Masters of Finance from the National College of Ireland. Síofra held several Senior Management Roles in banking before joining Google, most recently in Financial Model Risk at the Allied Irish Banks.
How and why did you begin working at Google?
I started my life at Google in 2012 when I joined the Finance team in our Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. I saw coming to Google as an opportunity to solve big problems and maybe even work on things that could change the world. Soon after joining, I had the opportunity to do just that when I became the Strategic Sourcing Manager for Google’s Access Africa project. My job was finding suppliers to build out fiber internet infrastructure in Africa. As far as I was concerned, I had the coolest strategic sourcing role in the world, and my responsibilities grew across categories and geographies. As I took on global projects, I learned about Google’s Supplier Diversity initiative .
I was absolutely overcome by this program’s potential impact. By creating opportunities for small and diverse-owned businesses to work with Google, we had the potential to make a massive positive impact on under-represented communities, driving economic impact and creating jobs.
Can you give an overview of your role and mission at Google?
I lead Google’s Global Supplier Diversity Program . Our goal is to build an inclusive supply chain. We find opportunities for more minority-, women-, veteran-, persons with disabilities-, and LGBT-owned businesses to connect with Google. We also help those businesses grow on the web.
We have a suite of benefits in place to support this goal. For me, the most exciting of these is the opportunity to participate in the Digital Excellence Program for Minority Entrepreneurs that Google runs in partnership with the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. That’s something we’re very proud of, and I really care about. Businesses in our program have the opportunity to apply for scholarships and participate in this three-day intensive course in digital excellence.
So, my job is to seek out, create and grow opportunities for underrepresented businesses in Google’s supply chain. That involves understanding Google’s business and trying to find superb companies that we can partner and work with.
How does your background influence your work?
I think about this every day. Where does my passion and drive for this work come from? Why is this work so important to me? Some of my passion comes from my upbringing. I grew up hearing stories of oppression, segregation and inequality. These gave me a hunger for equality and a passion for social justice. My drive also comes from understanding the difficulties and challenges that entrepreneurs and business owners face, I have always valued their work ethic, ingenuity and passion.
For many years my father worked for a small business. He was a quantity surveyor, which means he was a professional, large-project construction estimator, and I grew up seeing how much work it took to get the next job. I watched him face the challenges that come with being a small business: every contract matters, and every customer counts.
I also understand the magnitude of change that can come with each business opportunity, and Google understands the value that investment in small, under-represented businesses can bring to communities. Job creation is the starting point for access to educational opportunity and then social growth.
I’m inspired and driven every day because I know that the opportunity we bring to diverse suppliers means change for them, their families and their communities.
Why is supplier diversity important?
Supplier diversity is important to Google as a business. At Google, we’re always tackling new ideas and businesses. Just as we rely on diverse Googlers to build great products, we rely on a broad base of suppliers to stay cutting edge. We believe that working with a diverse set of suppliers fosters innovation, and innovation is core to everything we do.
Supplier diversity is important for communities, because corporate business helps diverse companies grow, and that creates jobs and economic opportunity.
What inspires you most about your work?
Working directly with entrepreneurs and small business owners, people who create their own future, is inspiring. I enjoy understanding their businesses, and finding them opportunities. Because of my previous roles at Google, I have a deep understanding of our complex business, particularly when it comes to our expenditures on suppliers. I’ve always been passionate about equality of opportunity, and this role allows me to use my skills and knowledge to make connections and impact real change.
I’m also inspired by the leaders who sponsor and support us and pave the way for this important work. And without a doubt, I’m inspired by the amazing people on my team, as well as our crew of volunteers. Googlers who are motivated, passionate about Supplier Diversity and show up to help out. They really execute our vision and hopes for this program.
How can people engage with and benefit from Google’s supplier diversity program?
We've deliberately built a program that is nontraditional and easy to join. To learn more, go to google.com/supplierdiversity .
If you have questions, we also have an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org .
And, of course, come see us when we are on the road at business conferences. We want to meet you!