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Google hosts NYU Higher Education SIG

Thursday, March 8, 2012   (0 Comments)
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The NYU Higher Education SIG held its third event of the On-Site Practitioner Series at Google NY on Tuesday, February 21st. Erica Fox, Head of Learning Programs for GoogleEDU, was the host. The event commenced with a tour of the office which has an informal, collaborative atmosphere and is styled with a NYC theme. There were NYC cityscapes on the walls and NYC themed rooms and corridors. One area had a Broadway theater design. There are loads of photos online if you search in Google Images for "Google NYC" office. It was a privilege for us to get a look at the inside of the organization.

Erica and her team discussed the importance of the learning culture at Google. Learning programs are focused on the user's needs and programs are driven by the employees. "Googlers" as the employees are called, are encouraged to deliver training and except for one course, there are no mandatory courses for Googlers. (The one mandatory course is manager compliance: Wrongful Termination, EEO / Discrimination, Keeping the Interview Legal, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Sexual Harassment). Erica estimated that 15-20% of learning programs are vendor-sourced with the rest built and delivered in-house. Erica noted that one of the challenges for the learning team is the fast growth rate of the company and the need for rapid, efficient decision-making processes. They approach this skill area through the underlying skills that help enable efficient decision making - building relationships, meeting management, group dynamics, project management, stakeholder management, etc.

One of the Google team members, Alison Parrin, shared one of the greatest insights into Google's learning culture: "People love to share their knowledge and see growth in their colleagues." Google's peer-driven learning communities can serve as a model for those of us in L&D. I am sure those of us at the event will take away a lot of creative ideas to use in our own jobs.

Quick facts:                                                                                              

  • The EDU in GoogleEDU stands for education, particularly the .edu domain for educational entities online.
  • Google's headquarters is in Mountain View, CA.  We have 30K+ employees in over 70 offices in over 40 countries.  Our group visited the NYC office, where over 2K employees work in all functions.
  • Erica's team is responsible for all learning content, classes and programs that is cross-functional in nature, from Noogler (new hire) Orientation & On-boarding, people management curriculum, leadership development, professional skills, language instruction, to emotional intelligence, creativity & innovation, and personal effectiveness.  Her team is also responsible for G&A technical training.  They are organized by user population (i.e. early career employees, mid-level/mid-career employees, managers, new hires, etc.). 
  • Weekly product training is delivered through live/recorded webinars, leadership foundations through workshops and peer discussion groups, giving/receiving feedback through classroom sessions.

Click here to view the Google Moderator discussion related to this event. 


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