Meet Google's Newest Digital Coach: Sandra Garcia-Lowery
Google Digital Coach Sandra Garcia-Lowery is a Harlem-based professional marketing and branding strategist. She is the founder of Encounter Marketing & Public Relations (EMPR) which develops and executes business strategies for smal-to-medium-sized businesses. Previously, Sandra managed her own event planning company, POSH Agency LLC. In 2012, Sandra launched Afro-LatinaBeauty.com, an online destination for stories of Afro-Latinas sharing their intercultural experiences.
Over the course of her career, Sandra has partnered with organizations across a wide array of industries, such as Clear Channel Outdoor,Time Warner Cable Media, PEOPLE, PEOPLE StyleWatch, CNNMoney.com, Money Magazine, and Fortune Magazine. Sandra has strategized for Toyota, L'Oreal, Almay, Estee Lauder, SnapChat, Apple, Verizon Wireless, Sephora, Pepsi, and American Express.
In addition to acting as a strategic advisor to organizations, Sandra has spoken and moderated discussions at Google, Microsoft, Buzzfeed, General Assembly, Young and Rubicam, New York University, Pace University, Dickinson College, Baruch College, and Howard University. She served as the New York Chapter President of the National Association of Multi-ethnicity In Communications (NAMIC), where she was awarded Chapter of The Year and Chapter Leadership Team of the Year. She now sits on the Board of Directors of both N.A.M.I.C. and Digital Diversity Network .
Sandra was awarded the honor of 2018 Innovation & Inclusion Culture Catalyst by the Digital Diversity Network, was a Forbes 30 Under 30 2016 nominee, and was named by Latino Leaders Magazine as a Top 25 Future Latino Leader (ages 25-35) in 2012.
We connected with Sandra to learn more about how her background has influenced her work, how she thinks about digital inclusion, and where she sees Google’s role in expanding access to opportunities through technology.
Tell us about your background and how it has shaped your career path.
I started my career in the corporate world working as an advisor to large media companies. My work was focused on helping businesses strategize and find solutions for increasing revenue and moving the needle. Now, I’ve shifted my focus to providing small business clients that same level of advice and strategic guidance.
Helping small businesses is purposeful because that’s where I see my work has the most impact. I am able to not only help grow small businesses, but also see myself helping business owners support themselves and their families, as well as employ people in their community.
What was your path to becoming a Google Digital Coach?
My relationship with Google’s Digital Coaches Program developed non-traditionally. There was no application, and there was no formal interview. I was doing the work already. I like to say that I was interviewing for this opportunity long before it was presented to me.
I grew up in Harlem, I live in Harlem, and I am a small business owner in Harlem. Last July, I spoke at Google about corporate marketing strategies for small businesses in New York City. Google was looking for a LatinX coach to join the team, and I was already doing community-based small business development and coaching. All the pieces of the puzzle came together, and the opportunity was very synergistic.
Doing the work you love creates opportunities — people will notice.
How does your background influence your work?
I am Afro-Latina, born in Honduras and moved to New York City when I was 5. To be one of Google's Digital Coaches is awesome!
In my corporate career I worked with large media companies including Time Warner Cable Media, CNN money,people.com and Clear Channel Outdoors. My corporate career was spent working with businesses and helping them to strategize and find solutions for increasing revenue and moving the needle. That is exactly what I'm doing now with small business clients.
Helping small businesses is where my work has the most impact. I am able to not only help business owners grow their businesses, but I also see myself helping them to support themselves and their families — and employ people in their communities.
What does digital inclusion mean to you?
Google's mission is to make the world’s information accessible and useful, and I think that that's really what digital inclusion is all about. For me, digital inclusion is making sure that everyone has access to the resources, tools and technology that can take their business to the next level.
Access is not enough. If you have access to a computer and the internet, you can search, but what do you do with that information? Digital inclusion is not just digital access, it is also knowing how to leverage that information.
What inspires you most about being a Google Digital Coach?
I am inspired by being able to impact my community through my work with small businesses.
When I was advising corporate clients, I felt that my work and roles were sometimes transactional. I managed large budgets, proposed expensive strategy executions and helped big companies make more money.
What I'm doing now is not just directly helping small businesses, I’m also helping business owners and communities. I'm inspired by the ability to have community impact.
What advice do you have for small business owners who want to work with a Google Digital Coach?
I know how expensive business coaching can be and how ambiguous the process of growing your business can be. I encourage small business owners to take advantage of all of the resources and events that Google now offers in their communities. All the programming and resources are also absolutely free!
No matter where you live, visit https://accelerate.withgoogle.com/coaches, and look at your local listings for resources and events. These are not just educational opportunities; you’ll get a chance to network with other business owners to learn, exchange ideas, and grow your business. Find a coach in your area and see what programs they have planned.