By Michelle Hua @MadeWithGlove
Originally from Paris, Anne-Laure moved from London to San Francisco to look after global marketing for Google Fit, a health and fitness tracking app, and brand marketing for Android Wear, an ecosystem of wearables powered by Google’s operating system. In London, she was managing the UK version of Think with Google, offering insights to digital professionals.
Anne-Laure worked on numerous initiatives, including Future Lions, Google Zeitgeist, Women in Search, and Summer in the City. She was named one of The Drum's 50 under 30 – a list of young disruptors making their mark on digital. Passionate about health and technology, she loves bringing to market products that help people be happier and healthier.
What is your role at Google?
I’m part of the wearables, health and fitness team. I look after global marketing for Google Fit, a health and fitness tracking platform, and brand marketing for Android Wear, an ecosystem of wearables powered by Google’s operating system.
What are the best things about working for Google?
Definitely the people! I’ve never been around such a creative and talented bunch, all gathered in one place. Every coffee break is an opportunity for an interesting conversation, and there are so many cool products Googlers are working on that I keep learning new things everyday.
What have been your biggest achievements?
Putting Android Wear on the map when it comes to fashion. Wearables marketing has been traditionally heavily focused on functionalities. Android Wear, with more than twelve partner brands and countless customisation options, is unique in the sense that it offers the best of function and fashion. Some of the initiatives I led includes revamping our website with the help of Qiu Yang, a fashion photographer who’s worked with the likes of Vogue, Elle, Glamour and Esquire; organising roundtables at Google in partnership with the BFC (British Fashion Council) and the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America); and launching an initiative with Paper Magazine to crowdsource our next collection of fashion watch faces.
Why is the #womenintech initiative important to you?
Research shows that diversity in the workplace leads to better discussions and decisions, but women make up only thirty percent of employees in the tech industry. We need everyone’s buy in to offer education that encourages girls to consider STEM studies, fair company policies to support women’s careers, and an open forum to fight unconscious bias in the industry. It’s exciting to see that things are slowly changing for the better, but there’s still a lot of work to do!
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I moved from London to San Francisco at the same time I started working on marketing for Android Wear. I didn’t know much about American culture beside a few TV shows, artists, and major political events. In order to position Android Wear and communicate our value proposition in an authentic way, that resonated with our users, I had to learn what mattered to them – fast. In the first few months, I learned the rules of American football, attended a baseball game, and asked lots of questions to my friends and colleagues. Our relationship to fashion and our health is interesting in that way: they both transcend frontiers – all cultures around the world care about them – but they have a ‘local’ flavour depending on where you are.
Do you have female support in your team or company?
Definitely. We have a very strong network of women at Google that offers mentorships, networking events, and workshops. My former manager, Nishma Robb, is spearheading lots of these initiatives in London, and I’ve learned a lot from her. I’m grateful I’ve always been managed by amazing women since I joined, and for the support they gave me at every step of my career.
You’ve worked for both Google in London and San Francisco. What are the main differences between working in different cities?
At the risk of stating the obvious: the weather! People are more outdoorsy here. I often bike from a meeting to another, take walks in the park with my colleagues, and generally spend more time outside. I do miss the good old London pubs and grabbing a pint of beer after work though! Both London and San Francisco are fantastic, vibrant cities, and I would recommend to anyone visiting them if they have the opportunity.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in wearable tech?
Bethany Koby, the co-founder & CEO of Tech Will Save Us, who is working on a fun wearable that gets kids building, coding and moving. This is only one of her initiatives to promote technology and turn everyone into makers in the UK. Yasmine Mustafa, who created Athena, a wearable that keeps women safe. This is an important issue and I’m glad to see some women dedicated to finding solutions. And, at Google, Angana Ghosh, an all-round kickass woman who’s leading the development of our fitness products.
What advice would you give women in wearables?
Talk to people and ask lots of questions. This is such a new space: assumptions don’t have their place. Wearables can offer so much value when they answer a need, and everyone’s needs are different. This is still a small community, and everyone is friendly, so there are no excuses not to reach out.
What are the key trends in the wearable tech industry?
This is still early days, and that’s what makes the wearable tech industry so exciting. I’ve personally noticed more and more applications in the wellness space. There are apps that allow users to track their sleep, drink more water, manage their weight, count their steps, measure their heart-rate, etc. – all from their wrist. Some researchers are also exploring the use of smart-tattoos to access data that’s currently hard to measure with traditional wearables, such as the amount of potential sun exposure your skin is receiving. At Google, Project Jacquard’s conductive fabric can transform everyday objects such as clothes into interactive surfaces. I’m excited about all these new form factors and the value they can deliver to users.