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Leader Wednesday: The lady behind the success of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki.


You may think that YouTube most important person is a multiplatinum selling artist with several hundred millions of views on his/her videos, and a worldwide superstar. Well, that’s not really the case. Susan Wojcicki the woman behind Googles acquisition of YouTube, and the current CEO of YouTube, is without a doubt YouTube’s most important person.

Born in 1968 in Silicon Valley, Wojcicki attended Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California, where she wrote articles for the school newspaper. She studied history and literature at Harvard University and graduated with honours in 1990. Later on she received her Master’s of Science in economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1993 and a Master’s in Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1998. After graduating, her plan was to go for PHD studies in economics, in order to continue on the academic route. That however, was only a plan, instead Wojcicki got into technology and continued her career from there.

It all started in 1998, when Wojcicki allowed Larry Page and Sergey Bin to set up an office in her garage, it wasn’t just an office for any ordinary company. It was the office of Google. A year later, she joined the company and became its 16th employee. It may sound like it was the return of favour by Page and Bin. However, Wojcicki played a crucial role in the Googles growth. Prior to her career in Google, Wojcicki worked in the field of marketing at Intel, and as a management consultant at both Bain & Company and R.B. Webber & Company. Wojcicikis career in Google started as a marketing manager where she worked on marketing programs and google doodles. Later on, she was promoted to become senior vice president of Advertising & Commerce, which meant leading the advertising and analytic products (AdWords, AdSense, DoubleClick, and Google Analytics). During the same time, she developed AdSense, which was crucial to Google since it became the company’s second largest source of revenue.

Her most impressive decision however was to convince Googles board to acquire YouTube. Being relatively small, and at the same time a competitor to Google, YouTube was acquired by Google for 1,65 billion (USD). The acquisition was one of Googles biggest acquisitions ever. However, the amount paid was relatively small considering YouTube being valued at over 80 billions (USD) today. The acquisition did not only mean financial gains and market shares for Google, but was also important for Wojcickis career, since she eventually became the CEO of YouTube in 2014.

There is a certain perception that people have of the CEO’s in Silicon Valley, Wojcicki is however quit different. What makes Wojcicki special and a great role model for many women pursuing a career in the field of technology is that the mother of 5 have managed to survive in a tough and manly dominated environment, but still have managed to keep many of her values along the way. Wojcicki has often emphasised on the importance of work life balance. Which for her means being home at 6 p.m. every night in order to be a part of the family meal, and offering employees 18 weeks paid maternity leave.

 It is certainly hard to be a working mom, but according to Wojcicki, women should have in mind that the hectic period of balancing family and career is a relatively short period, and yes it is hard but it wont last forever; “Having a child is a big life change but… you can get through it,” Being a mother and a CEO is hard, but at the same time it does make her better at her job. There are time constraints, such as being home on time in order to have dinner with her kids and spend time with her family. However, it forces Wojcicki to prioritise and focus on the important things instead. “I want people to realise that it really is OK, that you can have a family. I don’t feel like I’m a perfect mom, and then there are times at work where I feel like maybe I wasn’t perfect here because of constraints on my time. But having the sum of both of those things going on in my life makes me a better mom at the end of the day, and I think gives me really important perspectives in the workplace as well.”

Being one of the most powerful women on the planet does not only come with great responsibility but also with a lot of sacrifices. Wojcicki however has proved that it is possible to run one of the most influential companies in Silicon Valley and at the same time be at home at 6 p.m every day in order to spend time with her family.

Source: Today | Forbes | Ink

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