Product Inclusion Leadership: Insights from Ana Corrales, Google's Chief Operating Officer for Consumer Hardware
Ana Corrales is the Chief Operating Officer for Google’s Devices & Services business. She is responsible for bringing Google’s consumer hardware products to life, including our Pixel smartphones, the new Nest Hub Max and Pixelbook laptops, among other devices. With a background in business and engineering, Ana leads every aspect of how we deliver our products to people around the world — overseeing our end-to-end product development process; our IT systems and infrastructure; managing the supply chain to build quality products; overseeing our hardware sustainability efforts; getting our products to our customers around the world — all to drive toward a delightful customer experience so our customers can enjoy our products.
Growing up in Costa Rica, Ana remembers being told she was good at math when she was in the third grade. That feedback ignited her path forward. She studied Economics as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, and went on to get her M.S. in Engineering Economic Systems from Stanford. Before joining Google, she held positions as COO and Chief Financial Officer at other major Silicon Valley tech companies. Because of her background and extensive experience in tech, as well as her role as a mom, Ana is passionate about creating opportunities for more Latinos and Latinas to pursue roles in STEM, and wants to help them become the next generation of leaders.
Ana and I have worked together on various internal and external Google.org programs that aim to support and inspire the Latinx community to explore paths in tech; here, I sat down with Ana to learn more about what inspires and motivates her.
First of all, from Costa Rica to Silicon Valley! Tell us a little bit about that journey. How has this shaped your perspectives towards STEM and inclusivity?
I grew up in Costa Rica with extremely supportive parents who always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do. They also made it clear that I was not just here to consume oxygen, I was here to use my skills to contribute to the world in some way.
I fell in love with product at age 15, when I got involved in the National Young Entrepreneurs Program and helped build a hair scrunchie business (that was later sold to a grocery store chain in Costa Rica). I was so curious about the process of developing products from end-to-end: how are they designed, who builds them and how do you get them to customers? Little did I know at age 15 that I was an aspiring Operations leader!
I left Costa Rica to attend university in the U.S., where I got my undergrad degree at the University of Washington and my graduate degree at Stanford. From there, I started my career in tech and grew into leadership roles at Cisco, then I started and successfully sold a startup company with my sister. After that I joined Nest and Nest eventually integrated with Google.
I’ve been in a unique position most of my life and these experiences have reinforced my passion for supporting access to STEM education for people of all types. And it’s the reason I’m so proud to be an Executive Sponsor of Google’s Latinx employee resource group, HOLA, as well as on the board of our Women@Google group.
You were with Google.org in L.A. to help announce a $5M grant to UnidosUS, the YWCA and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation to help improve Latinx student access to computer science education, with a goal of reaching over 1 million students by 2022. What motivated you to be a spokesperson for this?
This grant aims to help close the divide and accelerate access to STEM education, and I’m extremely passionate about that. Often, people don’t realize the opportunities out there or aren’t confident they can take advantage of those opportunities — you don’t know what ice cream flavor you prefer until you’ve had a chance to try a variety! So at the very minimum, I should help to open up the door to the opportunities that exist in the tech industry. Everyone should have the chance to do what my teammates and I do, if that’s what they want.
We’ve had the privilege of working together not only through my capacity at Google.org, but also through your role as the executive sponsor for HOLA. Why is it so important to you to dedicate time to supporting Latinx employees internally?
It really is an honor for me to work with our Latinx talent everyday, and help develop them for their future roles and for greater leadership opportunities. The more we develop and grow the Latinx community at Google, the better skills we have to build better products and support communities outside of Google. Also, I love having meetings in Spanish — switching it up from speaking English all day.
Why is it so important to have Latinx voices for inclusive business development and growth for companies and communities?
We build products for everyone, so the people building our products need to be representative of the world around us.
A lack of Latina leadership role models can present a barrier for Latinas interested in pursuing computer science educationally and professionally. What advice would you give to young Latinas who want to build a career in tech?
I know it can be intimidating to take a different path than your family or friends might have, especially when it’s a path filled with a lot of people who don’t look like you. But I think you should really go for it and allow yourself to think big. Most people are surprised, including me, by what opportunities come your way if you put in the effort and allow for new possibilities.
You not only have a technical background, but a business background too. What have you learned by being one of the few Latina executive voices at many tables?
When I’m at the "table" I don’t think of myself as a Latina executive, I think of myself as a business leader ready to contribute. I’m not there for a cause or to be popular, I’m there to make products a reality. Enjoy what you do, and it opens doors to many opportunities.
What advice do you have for the next generation of leaders?
I grew up learning the importance of manners and being obedient. The next generation should do what’s right, but do so without apologizing. And I encourage them to color outside the lines as much as they can.
Inspired by Ana? Apply for a job at Google to create, design, code and build for everyone.