Communities grow and thrive when they lift up all of their members to succeed. Part of that undertaking is to recognize structural imbalances and to turn to their historically marginalized members to lead.
To celebrate Women’s History Month and the contributions of women in the world of cloud technology, C2C is highlighting conversations with leaders who will guide our future. Every Tuesday this March, we will publish an interview with one of the many women driving change and giving direction in the C2C community.
This interview is with Ayu Ginanti, APJ Cloud Lead at Intel, a Google Cloud Premier Partner and Foundational Platinum Partner of C2C.
You’re in a video call with people you haven’t yet met. How would you introduce yourself?
My name is Ayu (pronounced Aah-you), and I was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. Sydney, Australia, has been my second home since 2015, and I love it here.
I’m a Cloud Lead at Intel—the “chip queen” of Silicon Valley—where I help companies get the best out of their cloud consumption. I work closely with cloud providers like Google Cloud to drive value optimization on all Intel technologies.
I’m also a baker and a wedding cake artist.
Tell me about your education, your experience, and your tech path. Have you earned any certifications? Are there any you felt like you needed?
My educational background is actually in communications and business, but I always gravitated toward technology. All of my theses had a strong emphasis on technology and that interest followed me to the professional world. I’m proud of the plurality of my tech career and I particularly love being part of pioneering teams or businesses. I was one of the first 10 employees in Google Indonesia. I then pivoted to cloud and relocated to Sydney to join Google Cloud Australia. And now being the first Cloud Lead at Intel, I have a big responsibility in driving Intel’s technology leadership in cloud and breaking the perception that Intel is just a “PC-centric company”.
When it comes to certifications, I earned many at a professional level that were related to my job. I was AdWords certified and also passed the Google Analytics and YouTube certifications when I was part of the Google Adwords team. There’s probably greater emphasis on certifications in the cloud world—I even participated as a beta tester in the Google Cloud Digital Leader certification when it was released last year.
In general, I like learning new things. When I don’t have any cloud exams or internal cloud trainings to work on, I like to do short courses or executive education on the topics I’m interested in. I did one on “Driving organizational change” last year, and I’m enrolling in an AI course this May to help me with my job and learn new things that I’m curious about and may be beneficial either now or in the future.
How did you get started with Google Cloud?
I joined Google Cloud before Google Cloud even carried that name. I was part of the “OG” Google for Work, and our core focus at that time was selling the SaaS offerings of Google Workspace. Back then, it was called Google Apps for Work, then they rebranded as GSuite, and then as Google Workspace. I’ve seen the full transformation of that company.
When they pivoted their focus to Google Cloud Platform, I was one of the brave souls who believed that was the right path for the company, and that lined up with what I saw as the right path for my career. While it was very disruptive at the time, I believed there were so many opportunities ahead. And to be honest, Google Cloud circa 2017 was tough! We went through so many changes, starting in that phase of very minimal awareness among IT professionals just getting started, going through a rebrand, and bringing on a new CEO. Imagine still learning about the basics of load balancing and egress and trying to convince the customers that these were the right solutions for them. I was one of the people who would pick up the phone and say, “I’m from Google Cloud,” and they would usually say, “Google what? I’ve never heard of it,” or say I had the wrong number and hang up on me. It was a stressful time when your salary, your performance review, and your career depend on it.
But I’m grateful that I had supportive teammates. We were all going through the same thing,
Before I left Google Cloud, I realized how rewarding it was despite the stress. We grew a multi-million dollar business from a literal zero. The cherry on the cake is those teammates I had support from are now my closest friends and my then-manager is now a mentor I look up to. It has come full circle.
When you think back on your career, what stories can you share that demonstrate what it means to be a woman in tech?
Looking back on my experience, I believe work still needs to be done when it comes to breaking bias—not only in the tech world, but just generally being a woman and especially being a woman of color. I’ve experienced microaggressions where as a woman, clients would refuse to talk to me and only wanted to communicate with my male colleagues even though I was the sales rep responsible for the account. I’ve also been asked multiple times if I can create a new name for myself, or anglicize my name to make it more friendly for English speakers. My first name is only three letters, so it’s really not difficult. My late grandpa named me and I love my name, so I’m not changing it for anyone.
Awareness was really low when it came to unconscious bias and microaggressions. It affected me in a way that I felt I had to work twice as hard to prove myself to people, or to feel that I belong in the industry. But I know now I’m not responsible for anyone’s distorted perception of me, and I know I can stand in my own light and my own truth and still work hard. I realized that when I work with the right people in the right environment, it’s all worth it, because they don’t see me just as a woman of color in tech—they see me as a dedicated rockstar.
Those who have a great work ethic and a passion for what they do—regardless of their gender, race, appearance, sexual orientation, or ethnicity—are the ones who end up running the company in the future.
Have you ever felt “imposter syndrome”? How do you deal with it?
With the caliber of people hired at Intel or at Google—all very smart, humble, cool people—I have wondered if I belong, or if I’m a fake. If I had to give pro tips on getting rid of that imposter feeling, they would be these three things:
First is to surround myself with supportive people who see my worth. Sometimes we forget that we aren’t imposters, or fakes; we’re actually quite remarkable. Google has an #IamRemarkable program to remind not only women, but all minority groups, that they are remarkable.
Second is an area I still have to work on, which is: don’t forget to reward yourself. I grew up in an environment where I was told to be humble and just get on with it, and adulthood inherits those ideas. But we have to actively celebrate in order to feel the full force of our successes and accomplishments. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive, but find something that is meaningful to you. I do little things like taking myself out to dinner, sharing my accomplishments with my friends, or buying myself a little something. We should recognize our wins, no matter how small. Back when I started at Google Cloud and a customer wanted a second meeting, we saw that as a big win. We would celebrate and clap on the floor where we worked. It releases that feel-good dopamine and motivates us to accomplish even more. It’s easy to overlook that.
And third is very actionable—you have to be careful about social media. I got very specific in curating my LinkedIn feed; I suggest unfollowing anyone or anything that brings you down. Sometimes, LinkedIn can make us feel like we’re behind, so curating our feed can nurture our souls. Focus on the informational and inspirational content that actually feeds your best self, gives you grace, and helps you work toward your vision. Life is finite; you don’t need toxic content filling it.
How do you want to change the world?
This question really makes me ponder. I’m one of those people who has a vision board to plan for my dreams and leave a legacy, like speaking at a TedX, or starting a school, or building a walking suspension bridge to connect rural areas in Indonesia. But I look at the world we live in now and those ambitions and empowering ideas on my vision board feel disingenuous. We’re still recovering from the trauma of the pandemic, and we’re seeing news of war and extreme weather events.
“We’re told to put on our own oxygen masks before helping other people, so I’m working on that.”
We’re told to put on our own oxygen masks before helping other people, so I’m working on that. What I really want to do is spend my time working on things that matter in the cloud space and being with the people I love the most. I want to spend more time with my partner, who I’ve only seen four times since 2020 because of border closures. I want to make up for lost time with family and friends who I haven’t seen for three years. I feel like I’ve had a rough couple of years with that separation.
That doesn’t mean I’m not ambitious anymore, but
it’s hard to plan for audacious goals when basic needs haven’t been met. Once I’m there, then let’s talk about changing the world, but in the meantime, while I’m on that track I hope I can inspire a soul or two.
Inspire me! What advice would you give someone interested in a career like yours?
There’s still a perception that tech companies are strictly full of “nerdy, techy developers,” or that you have to be an Ivy League graduate to make it. But that’s wrong. There are plenty of opportunities working at tech companies like Intel in marketing, human resources, sales, program management, analytics, operations, and the list goes on. It all depends on how driven you are and what your interests are.
“As an example from years ago, I made a prototype of a chatbot to automate an online dating conversation… It was a bit complicated, which I liked, and it was a fun project to learn how to use Google Cloud’s Dialogflow and the components behind it. ”
As an example from years ago, I made a prototype of a chatbot to automate an online dating conversation. My intent was to save time for busy girls like me and my friends who don’t have time to talk, so the chatbot would answer to potential suitors. Once it hit a certain milestone, it was passed to the real “agent,” similar to customer service bots screening conversations before passing it on to an actual person. It was a bit complicated, which I liked, and it was a fun project to learn how to use Google Cloud’s Dialogflow and the components behind it. But, I also learned about the ethics behind AI, and realized how this wasn’t the most ethical solution, so it wasn’t something to fully pursue.
The bottom line is, in order to thrive in a tech company, always find ways to keep learning. Be inquisitive, even if you’re just doing fun projects for yourself a few nights each week. The industry is constantly changing, so keep your skills fresh to stay ahead of the game.
Can you share one reason why you are optimistic about 2022 and the outlook for women in Google Cloud, in your region and beyond?
I believe we’ll have a stronger synergy and collaboration between Intel and Google Cloud this year. There are women and male allies in APAC who are focused on bringing in the best and the most innovative solutions to our diverse organization of customers. At the end of the day, representation matters. It’s critical for cognitive diversity to create a space for motivated employees and customers. Google and Intel are seen as leaders in the industry, well-placed in showcasing that women have equal opportunities of succeeding in the tech world. We’re paving the way for future generations to thrive and change things up.
Looking for more in this series? Check out these other interviews with women in Google Cloud technology.