Susan Wojcicki: Encouraging a next generation of girls to use the Internet

#32: Susan Wojcicki

Susan Wojcicki (photo credit: REUTERS)
Susan Wojcicki
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Born in 1968 to an American mother of Russian-Jewish descent and a Polish-American father who taught physics at Stanford University, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s meteoric rise to self-made success mirrors that of the video-sharing Goliath’s parent company Google (Alphabet).
In September 1998, shortly after moving back to Menlo Park, Wojcicki rented out her garage to a pair of friends called Larry Page and Sergey Brin – Stanford graduates searching for an office for Google, their recently incorporated search engine company.
By the time Wojcicki joined their company from Intel as its first marketing manager a year later, only Google’s 16th employee, it had already moved out of the garage and into a new location. Her early successes in the company were based around generating revenue from user searches, overseeing the launch of AdWords and AdSense, and the acquisition of Applied Semantics and DoubleClick.
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Wojcicki was also responsible for overseeing the development of Google Video, and later the acquisition of rival YouTube in October 2006 for $1.65 billion. In February 2014, she became the CEO of YouTube, which today witnesses almost two billion active monthly users and an estimated five billion videos watched every day.
As Time magazine reported, Wojcicki “is not a woman to leave people guessing about her opinions.” While she might not feature in the headlines as prominently as chief executives of other tech giants, the mother of five has served as an advocate for causes including increasing the number of women in tech and paid parental leave.
While the United States remains an international outlier when it comes to paid parental leave, Google employees in the US can receive up to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave and 12 weeks of paid paternity leave. Back in the company’s early days, Wojcicki was the first woman to take maternity leave at Google.
“One of the things that I’m trying to do is use the position that I’m in to encourage the next generation of girls to think about the Internet as a career opportunity,” she told CNN in 2016.
Proving that it is possible to combine motherhood with a distinguished hi-tech career, Wojcicki’s leadership of YouTube has developed into far more than managing policy of the Google subsidiary. The internet, Wojcicki believes, is a tool with huge power to change society – but a tool that will also improve as more women take on key leadership roles.