Google Cloud chief outlines strategy for the UK and Ireland

Google employs more than 12,000 people in the UK and Ireland, accounting for around 10% of the tech giant’s global workforce.

One of the newest among them is Pip White, the one-time Salesforce exec snapped up by Google in June of last year, charged with heading up the company’s cloud operations in both territories.

Since graduating with a business degree from the University of Manchester in the late 90s, White has rapidly climbed London’s corporate ladder, cutting her teeth at hardware giant HP over a 13-year stint, where she rose to become VP of global sales. 

White would go on to oversee Salesforce’s operations in the UK and Ireland, before being poached for the same job by Google Cloud amid a global pandemic. She’s the latest in a slew of top talents jumping ship at Salesforce to join Google Cloud, including the division’s president Chris Ciarui, and its head of ops and growth Sanj Bhayro. 

As has been the case for so many of us, White tells Insider the work-from-home revolution incurred by the pandemic has led to a blending of personal and professional lives.

“I’ve had a great six months,” she said. “But I couldn’t discuss my work successes without noting that, in this interminable lockdown, one of my greatest achievements has been teaching my nine-year-old all the words to ‘Starman’ by David Bowie.”

Despite having applied for the job almost a year ago, White reveals she has yet to set foot in any of the company’s four offices across London and Dublin. “In fact, I still need to clear my office at Salesforce.”

She credits the quality of Google Cloud and collaboration tech for providing a fairly seamless on-boarding process: “We’ve adapted, and we continue to innovate,” she said. “The most important thing has been keeping each other connected, informed, and inspired, whether that’s for work purposes or for bingo on a Meet call, it all counts.”

Boosting morale throughout company challenges

While White and her colleagues do their best to maintain morale among their coworkers, there’s no escaping the fact the company faces some challenges ahead. Google’s recent quarterly earnings revealed its cloud division is still burning through cash, losing $1.2 billion in Q4 of 2020, and $5.6 billion for the year.

Reiterating Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s comments, White says she and her team are “pleased with the progress of Google Cloud,” citing the group’s consistent revenue growth.

“We’ve obviously been investing aggressively, given the substantial market opportunity we see,” she said. “And we’ll continue making disciplined investments to scale the business and improve profitability, as Sundar and (Google CFO) Ruth Porat noted in our earnings transcript.”

In the UK, when politicians and executives alike are struggling to deal with the impacts of coronavirus, they’re contending with an entirely different challenge: Brexit. 

As it stands, the currently stable — albeit delicate — settlement between the UK and the EU shouldn’t present too many problems for cloud computing. But any divergence in data-sharing policy or other regulations could cause some problems. 

“Brexit doesn’t impact our ability to operate our UK cloud region or our EU data centers and cloud regions,” White assures. “Over Christmas the European Commission and the UK agreed an interim deal to keep data flowing between the EU and the UK which is very good news, as digital businesses and trade rely on the free flow of data.”

She adds that the firm has made minor changes to its privacy and security terms to help ensure these terms meet the requirements of applicable UK data protection legislation now that it’s left the EU.

Prioritizing small businesses

For the rest of 2021, White cites Google’s stated goals of levelling up its cloud offering, improving sustainability through green initiatives, and working ever closer with corporate partners like Deutsche Bank and Ford.

But she highlights one area in particular, offering support for existing and new businesses, that’s clearly close to her heart: “Small businesses make up 80% of the UK economy, and they’re all facing tough conditions,” she said, highlighting the number of venues forced to reopen at lower capacity, and the importance of offering online support.

“One principle that I like to live by is that if you’re seeing success, be it in business or in your personal life is to make sure you take others up with you,” White said. “Success on your own is a boring journey.”