July 16, 2018

Corner Office: Stacy Brown-Philpot of TaskRabbit on Being a Black Woman in Silicon Valley

Once you got to Google, you started managing larger and larger teams.

Sheryl saw the potential for leadership, so pulled me into her group to run a 200-person team. I went from managing 14 to 200 people overnight. That was a big step up in not just how I led but how I talked to people, how I communicated. I went from managing direct reports to managing managers, and becoming more responsible as a leader. And then I went to India, and went from managing 200 people to 1,000 people.

Was going to India a difficult decision?

It threw a monkey wrench in my plan. My husband and I were thinking about starting a family at the time, and India would have delayed that decision. So I go home, and I tell my husband: “They asked me to go to India, but I’m not going to go. We’re thinking about starting a family.”

But I’d always wanted to live abroad. India was a really important market for Google at the time, and I knew they were going to take care of me. So we decided together, as a couple, to delay the decision to start a family so I could take this career opportunity.

So I went back to work and said, “Here are all the things I need to make this work for me.” And they were like, “Yes.” Then I went back and asked for some more, because they said yes too fast.

How was managing in India different than in the United States?

I had to adapt my style. Google, at least in the U.S., was very consensus driven. In India, it was a lot more directive. My style is to naturally be consensus-driven, so I had to immediately adapt.

After about a month in India, my assistant came to me and said: “Stacy, you’re going to be great here. Everyone loves you. But you have to start to tell people what to do.” And I was like, “I’m already telling people what to do. We’re having these meetings. We’re agreeing.” She’s like, “No. You have to actually tell people what to do.”

My Detroit upbringing taught me how to be directive. I had to defend myself from bullies. So I knew how to speak up. So I just had to go back to my roots.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/13/business/stacy-brown-philpot-taskrabbit-corner-office.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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