This article was originally published on September 3, 2020.
She’s the new voice in the room at Google Cloud, having been brought on board not even four months ago, but Lori Mitchell-Keller is already amplifying the call for transformation in Google Cloud’s five commercial industries. These include: financial services; health care and life sciences; industrial and manufacturing; retail; and media and entertainment, telecommunications, and gaming.
Mitchell-Keller has spent more than 30 years as a strategic global leader committed to helping transform organizations with innovative technology. In her new role at Google Cloud—VP of industry solutions—she’s responsible for leading a team charged with not only understanding customer requirements across various industries, but also predicting where the market is going over the next few years.
We all heard Mitchell-Keller at Google Cloud Next '20: OnAir talk about her goals of helping drive business transformation for organizations across key industries. (If you didn’t, check it out here). But C2C wanted to dig a little deeper into how she sees her role evolving and what that really means for you, Google Cloud customers.
"We need to know both customer and industry trends, so we can better design and execute a solution portfolio that will meet current and future needs,” she said. “We want to meet the challenges our customers are faced with whether it’s today, tomorrow, or years down the road.”
Rallying Cry for Solutions that Cross Industries
As organizations large and small are tackling several different challenges, what’s consistent—across industries and across the globe—are those challenges associated with COVID-19. “These range from providing virtual care in health care, delivering better omnichannel experiences in retail, adapting to new ways of working in manufacturing, and more,” Mitchell-Keller noted. “Technology is a huge enabler to driving business continuity, and we’re focused on developing industry-specific solutions that help customers in new ways.”
C2C recently shared “4 Industries’ Takeaways for Google Cloud Customers.” During our conversation, Mitchell-Keller added some more color to the initiatives her team are working on now. “We believe that a partner ecosystem makes our solutions stronger,” she said. Google Cloud has announced several strategic partnerships that will expand the company’s impact across industries—including a recent one with Amwell that will transform access to virtual care with Google Cloud artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and collaboration tools, as well as one with Tenemos that will accelerate banks’ digital transformations with new financial services offerings.
The current pandemic has brought to the forefront pressing issues that span all industries—supply chain management is one, and delivering better customer experiences is another. “As we emerge from this pandemic,” she explained, “companies are thinking about how to build more resilient supply chains for the future. We recently formed a new global supply chain, logistics, and transportation team that will support each industry with a dedicated go-to-market strategy and solution road map.” A couple of early focus areas she mentioned include a demand-forecasting solution for retailers and a last-mile optimization solution for manufacturers.
As for delivering better customer experiences, Mitchell-Keller said that Google is a data company at its core, and it has invested in accelerating innovation through the smarter use of data at scale. However, she pointed out, “the underpinning of our Google Cloud industry solutions road map is our AI platform, where we’re focused on embedding easy-to-use AI and machine learning in solutions that deliver new value to customers across industries.”
Your Voice Is Your Moonshot
Although relatively new to the Google Cloud team, Mitchell-Keller is not new to working on complex issues or developing comprehensive solutions. She has held numerous leadership positions and worked on everything from product and solution development, to management, to building and nurturing partnerships. “My grandmother taught me true empathy,” she said. “But she also taught me to trust myself enough to take risks in order to achieve more. I think we all need to take risks to innovate.”
As she looked inward and then forward, Mitchell-Keller said this: “I’m most passionate about solving difficult, complex problems with the simplest of solutions.” It’s that same mindset that has allowed her to use her voice and platform to not only help business leaders transform and succeed, but also to help others do the same on a personal level. She tweeted not too long ago, “I’m a strong believer in the value of volunteering. Aside from the good it can do for others, it can make a difference in your productivity at work, too.” We talked about how her own volunteer work has shaped her professional narrative, and in turn, her contributions.
Mitchell-Keller spends her time volunteering at two organizations that are near and dear to her heart: Retail Orphan Initiative and Autism After 21 with the Madison House Autism Foundation. She recalled a trip she took to Honduras with her then-two-year-old son on behalf of the Retail Orphan Initiative. The goal of the organization is to help build schools to provide education, as well as provide food, clothes, and other necessities to underprivileged and orphaned children all over the world. “For our first trip, my son and I gathered hundreds of stuffed animals that we carried in our luggage. The experience that followed struck me so profoundly,” she said. “As we handed out stuffed animals, it became clear that we would not have enough to give to every child. As we walked off, we were approached by a mother asking if we had just one more so that her child did not feel left out. Being a mother myself, I understood that ask from her more than anything else. I knew what it meant to be a mother and to want only the best for your child. I handed her a stuffed animal intended for the next stop. I realized in that moment the power in asking for what you want.”
Mitchell-Keller continued, “We all have things we want to accomplish professionally, but we sometimes hesitate to ask for what we want or need to make it happen. We have to ask for help from others to attain those goals that seem so out of reach sometimes. I have applied that mindset to the way I work, as well as to the way I lead. Your voice—our voices—are the stepping stones to launching technology moonshots.”
Lori-Mitchell-Keller: The Quiet Drum that Beats
I asked Mitchell-Keller what she would write if she had to leave for a year and the only communication she could have with her team was a message sent via email. She paused for a minute and said: “I would say trust yourself, trust your instincts, and trust your experiences. We all have it in us to be better than we sometimes think we can be, and often we just need a reminder of that.”
She wanted to make sure to remind all of you that, although 2020 has been an unpredictable year, she hopes that you lean into C2C, ask for what you want, and feel empowered to stand on each other’s shoulders to share experiences, learn from each other, and enable more informed business decisions with cloud technology. She reflected, “As Issac Newton said, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ That’s what I want for C2C members—to see further and to do it together.”