Where Google’s chief advertising officer looks for information

A week before Lorraine Twohill applied for engineering school in her native Ireland, she found herself perusing a brochure on a new degree called international marketing. His promise to study abroad for a year led the mathematical genius to switch from engineering to marketing.

The last minute shift three decades ago broke the heart of his father, a math teacher, but it changed his life. Her studies at Dublin City University and a year abroad in Spain led her to become Google’s chief marketing officer, a position she has held long enough to see the plucky search company morph into a tech giant with a advertising budget of more than $ 5 billion.

“I started that course and never looked back,” Twohill said.

Bio Bits

  • Age: 49
  • Education: Dublin City University, international marketing and languages
  • Family: married with two children
  • First job: Shelving storage at a local grocer in Carlow, Ireland
  • Favorite book: Anything from Zadie Smith or Jennifer Egan; Edna O’Brien’s “Country Girls”; “Let the Great World Spin”, by Colum McCann.
  • Pet project: Cycle for Survival bike ride to raise money to fund a PhD. student for a year to research rare cancers. WomenWill, a program started with women at Google to bring digital skills to 50 million women.
  • Hobby: Walks with friends, board games, Peloton and family basketball
  • Wake-up time rings on weekdays: At 7 am, my husband brings me tea and my daughter joins me for snuggling. Since neither of us are early risers, at 7:30 am we get out of bed.

A few years after graduating, Ms. Twohill landed at a dot-com-era travel company, Opodo, where she bought the first digital ads on Google, which was then a search engine. When Google invited her to visit their office, she came expecting to talk about the Opodo account. Instead, he found himself in a series of interviews that resulted in a job offer that he almost turned down.

“I had a great job and another offer that seemed like a much bigger job,” he said of the 2003 opportunity. “But I saw firsthand the awesomeness of AdWords.”

In 2009, Ms. Twohill moved to the US to lead Google’s global marketing. As her responsibilities increased, she built a team around her that supported her at work and at home, including a doctor she could call or email at any time.

That support became critical when Ms Twohill noticed that her urine was black while traveling abroad for work in 2016. Her doctor advised her to go immediately to the hospital where she was diagnosed with stage two cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and deadly cancer. He underwent an operation two weeks later.

“I was very, very lucky,” he said, noting that most people don’t get cholangiocarcinoma until stage four.

She has now been cancer free for five years and said that since then she has been more inclined to delegate work. Today, his team is focused on promoting the benefits that Google offers at a time when headlines about the company often accentuate problems, including a recent sexual harassment scandal, controversy over artificial intelligence practices and antitrust lawsuits.

A commercial that aired during the Oscars featured a Google designer who grew up with deaf parents. He described how he used automatic captioning tools in video chat to introduce his mother and father to their newborn grandson.

“I want to do work that makes people not only think or do something, but feel something,” Twohill said. “For me, empathy is very important.”

Here are four of his most trusted advisors:

Sundar pichai

CEO of Alphabet Inc.

When Mr. Pichai was Google’s Chrome Product Lead, Ms. Twohill worked with him in a marketing effort to increase acceptance of the Internet browser. Television commercials, which premiered in 2009 and later featured Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, helped Chrome become the world’s dominant browser with a 65% market share.

“Sundar saw firsthand the role that marketing could play by having us at the table,” he said.

Over the years, Mr. Pichai has provided him with valuable advice, including empowering his team and choosing three things that he worked deeply on. The team can take care of the rest, he said.

“It has been good for me to focus my time and energy,” she said, especially when returning to work after cancer.

Jane rosenthal

Chief Executive Officer of Tribeca Enterprises LLC

When Ms. Twohill moved to the United States, she didn’t know many people outside of work. He met Ms. Rosenthal at a Google event and they connected as working mothers in executive positions.

Ms. Rosenthal, who became a lifelong friend, often gives Ms. Twohill what she calls “advice for working mothers.” They often share stories about children and work and, in the process, discuss how to be good moms and successful executives.

In the past, you have turned to Ms Rosenthal when debating whether to travel for work during a time when your children have something special at home.

“She will advise me: You have to be there for the moments that matter,” Twohill said. “She helped me feel braver and say, ‘I can’t go do that because I need to be here.’

Steve Stoute

Founder / CEO of Translation Enterprises Inc. and UnitedMasters LLC

While attending a Google event with clients and partners, Ms. Twohill met Mr. Stoute. He stayed in touch with the veteran and entrepreneur of the music industry.

Ms. Twohill, who is Irish, grew up not understanding African American culture. Stoute, whose Translation agency advises brands on the nuances of hip-hop culture, helped deepen her understanding of African-American history.

“He almost became my teacher,” Ms. Twohill said. “Steve could help me understand, ‘Lorraine, it’s not just about fighting for women. You have to fight for black women. You have to fight for the race. You have to fight for others. ‘

You also appreciate that Mr. Stoute appreciates Google’s marketing efforts.

“He holds me accountable,” he said. “He texts me and says, ‘Bravo,’ or he says, ‘you know, you could have worked harder there.’

Nikesh Arora

CEO of Palo Alto Networks INC.

In 2001, Mr. Arora attended a birthday party for Ms. Twohill and her best friend, with whom he worked at a telecommunications company. Mr. Arora spent much of the night talking with Ms. Twohill’s father, for which she appreciated.

Three years later, Mr. Arora joined Google, where he served as vice president of European operations before moving to the US, where he became the company’s chief commercial officer from 2011 to 2014. He appointed her to join the board of directors of the security company he directs. Palo Alto Networks.

Like Mr. Pichai, Mr. Arora has advised Ms. Twohill to be selective about how she spends her time at work. It also instilled in him the importance of hiring well.

“One of the best things he did at Google was the bank that he built and hired,” he said. “It taught me how to hire senior talent who are not learning on the job. Jobs will grow with talent. I’ve always hired someone who will eventually challenge me and bring complementary skills. ”

Write to Tripp Mickle at [email protected]

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