What does it take to be a financial guru? How do organizers organize? What does it really mean to be a political aide? Or a Google Executive?
To give you some insight into the ways your idols and peers get the job done, teenVOGUE series, The Hustle, takes you behind the scenes of Annie Jean–Baptiste’s career to give you an idea of what it’s actually like to have your dream job.
Annie Jean-Baptiste spends her days making sure everyone matters. As Head of Product Inclusion, Research, and Activation at Google, Annie is tasked with making sure everything Google puts on the market is inclusive of the people who will use it.
Annie and her team have launched several products including Google Assistant, Gmail’s Smart Compose feature and Google’s Pixel Camera. She has worked tirelessly to test the product for racially and gender-insensitive language.
As head of product inclusion at Google, Annie Jean-Baptiste works to ensure that the products and services Google offers are inclusive and reflective of the diverse audience the company serves.
Annie has been working to increase inclusion in all areas for about a decade now, and she took a quick break from her busy schedule to share what a typical day in her work life is — from walking her dog, to amplifying marginalized voices.
7:00 a.m. Wake up. I start my day by saying three things I’m grateful for and setting my intentions for the day. I’ll use Headspace to meditate for 10 minutes, but some days I forget or don’t feel like it!
7:15 a.m. Workout. I like to mix up my workouts, but today I worked out with my trainer, Fred.
8:15 a.m. Get ready and ask my Google Assistant (whose voice is either John Legend or Issa Rae) about traffic and the weather. My dad taught me to choose my clothes for the week on Sunday to eliminate having to decide during the week. Google doesn’t have a dress code, so I can express myself however I like. I made a pact to support more Black designers and designers of color this year. Some of my favorites are Aminah Abdul Jillil, Andrea Iyamah, Arryles, Cushnie, Pat McGrath, and Mented Cosmetics.
8:45 a.m. Walk my eight-year-old Yorkie, Hercules! He comes to work with me nearly every day and has essentially grown up at Google. I wear my Upright Go device while walking Hercules to improve my posture. It helps me to remember not to hunch over my computer!
8:55 a.m. I drive over to Google’s San Francisco office. I like listening to podcasts, like NPR’s Code Switch or Hidden Brain, to get inspiration from different industries about how they think about inclusion and exclusion.
9:30 a.m. I arrive at work and grab breakfast in the café and check emails. I am an Inbox Zero person (or at least under 10), so I spend this time clearing out any non-important emails to help prioritize my day. I have large chunks of time blocked off for brainstorming and strategizing, but on my most hectic day, I may have 12 meetings with different research, product, executive, and marketing teams.
10:00 a.m. Meet with a product team about an upcoming launch. As head of Product Inclusion, my job is to work with different product teams (like Google Assistant and Android) to figure out how to bring a more inclusive lens to their work. Have they gotten feedback from users outside the U.S.? Have they spoken to people of all genders? How does skin tone render? These are the types of questions we ask. I love being able to partner with and learn from so many teams. Each role — whether it’s engineering, user experience design, or product management — has a different perspective to bring and a responsibility to uplift underrepresented voices.
12:00 p.m. Lunchtime! I grab some food and take Hercules for a walk.
1:00 p.m. Work with a group of 20 percenters on inclusive dogfooding (what we call user testing). Google has this initiative where employees can use 20% of their time to work on projects outside their day-to-day work. In fact, Gmail came from someone’s 20% project. More than 2,000 Googlers from across the global company have volunteered to work on product inclusion and help teams bring an inclusive lens to their work. They help us dogfood and stress test, providing feedback on their experience through focus groups at different phases in the process. We love when product teams start working with us at the ideation phase so we can embed inclusion in from the beginning of their journey, but they can bring us in at any part in the process (even a day or two before launch).
2:00 p.m. Meet with Google’s senior leadership team about our hardware (devices and services team), and how to embed product inclusion into their design framework. We have several exec sponsors around the company who make sure that product inclusion is a key part of the process, as well as advise on research about the business case for inclusion.
4:00 p.m. Prep for my talk at Consumer Electronics Show, the largest consumer-technology-focused conference that draws more than 170,000 attendees. Being a first-generation Haitian American, I’m passionate about everyone feeling seen and having their voices heard. Though I’m an introvert, I’ve been working on speaking more about how important representing underrepresented users is. I practice a decent amount and also love to power pose before every talk or fireside chat.
5:00 p.m. Check emails and spend some time prioritizing which are urgent, semi-time sensitive, and can wait until later in the day.
7:00 p.m. Get home and check WhatsApp. My family is always sending videos and jokes to one another and it’s a nice way to be connected to my brother, who is in New York, and my parents, who are in Boston. I also try to call my grandparents at least one time every three weeks. They split their time between Haiti and the East Coast of the U.S.
7:15 p.m. Read 10 pages (minimum, ideally more, depending on the book!). It doesn’t seem like much, but I read 15 books last year. Some of my favorites are Memoirs From a Young Black Chef, Originals, and How to Speak Machine.
7:45 p.m. Dinner with my husband. I usually meal prep for the week on Sundays, but on Wednesdays, we try a new restaurant or recipe. It’s our time to catch up.
8:30 p.m. Check outside-of-work activities. I’m the Intrapreneur in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (go Quakers!), so I plan office hours with the students that I advise. I also mentor young people looking to get into tech, so I may connect with them.
8:45 p.m. Pack for a business trip to South Africa. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to represent product inclusion across the globe. I have a suitcase already packed with the essentials like workout gear, chargers, headphones, and toiletries since I’m on the road a lot.
9:30 p.m. Late-night walk for Herc (though usually I have my husband do it!).
9:50 p.m. TV, reading, or hanging out before bed.
11:00 p.m. Pray, then sleep. One of my non-negotiables is getting at least eight hours a night! I’m not my best when I haven’t had a lot of sleep. Senior year of high school, I got 11 hours each night and was living my best life (those were the days).
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Since starting at Google nine years ago, the 31-year-old has served as an account manager and a diversity programs manager before stepping into her current role two years ago. When reflecting on the books that have influenced her the career the most, Jean-Baptiste tells CNBC Make It that Adam Grant’s “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” comes to mind.
“Just given that sometimes you’re in a space that’s new and a little bit uncharted, I think that reading about people who have started something from scratch or started something that people didn’t totally get at first is interesting,” she says. “It’s just really interesting to see how they build that consensus up from the ground floor.”
In Grant’s bestselling book, the Wharton School professor uses data and research to show readers what it takes to bring an original idea to life. He also challenges the belief that you have to take a crazy amount of risk in order to birth a great idea.
“You don’t have to be a round peg in a square hole to be original,” Grant said on CNBC’s “On the Money” in 2016. “In fact, many originals hate taking risks.”
For example, he says, “If you look at the data, entrepreneurs who avoid risk by saying, ‘You know what, I’m going to keep my day job before I go all in’ are 33% less likely to fail.”
Though Grant’s book may be perceived as a read that focuses on entrepreneurship, Annie Jean-Baptiste can relate to the idea of building something from the ground up, considering her current role at Google was non-existent a few years ago.
“Product inclusion” includes elements of business, product and diversity, and Annie had worked in all of those areas. But that doesn’t mean the transition was easy. “It’s a culmination of a lot of the work that I’ve been lucky enough to do and learn at Google,” she says. “So seeing there was an opportunity and an opening to do that and to build that out, even though it hadn’t been something that was happening before, can sometimes be scary.”
When developing the Google Assistant, which is an artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant that can hold a two-way conversation with its user, Annie Jean-Baptiste and her team worked tirelessly to test the product for racially and gender-insensitive language before its launch.
“Google has always said focus on the user and all else will follow,” the tech executive says in a video about the product launch of Google Assistant. “If you’re thinking about a challenge or product, you need to make sure that you’re intentional about expanding who your users could and should be.”
Similarly with Gmail’s Smart Compose, Jean-Baptiste and her team tested the product before its launch to ensure that the predictive text feature wouldn’t create any negative or offensive messages. They also tested Google’s Pixel Camera before its launch to ensure that the lens accurately reflected all skin tones.
“I think, you know, the crux of this work is to really ensure that everyone feels seen and valued for their differences and feel like they were thought of,” she says. “We know that we have work to do and that we’re on a journey, but we’re really excited and committed to making sure that we’re building for everyone and with everyone.”
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