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Inside Google Workspace

Honoring—and learning from—Google Cloud veterans

November 11, 2019
The Google Cloud team

Many Googlers, including those working in Google Cloud, started their careers by serving in the military. Here are some of their stories.

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No matter your background, who you are outside of work can shape a lot of who you are at work. Many Googlers, including those working in Google Cloud, started their careers by serving in the military. What better way to say thank you to our vets (on Veterans Day), than by learning more about their stories? 

Driving work forward for businesses

Eric Burleson, Sales Specialist, Google Drive

Meet Eric. Eric grew up in Burleson, Texas, a town interestingly named after his ancestor who served in the Texas revolution. Following in his footsteps, Eric became a Green Beret and served two tours in Iraq where he focused on counterterrorism. At Google, he helps companies understand how to collaborate in Google Drive. And when he’s not working his nine to five, Eric helps veterans transition into civilian life. He recently published a vet mental health handbook that’s currently being used by the Texas Veterans Commission.

What’s your go-to G Suite app or feature? Drive’s workspaces feature saves me so much time. Also, the Calendar integration in Gmail is so handy. I can schedule a meeting directly from an email thread. 

What’s the best piece of “work” advice you’ve ever received? Seek out problems. There’s a huge advantage if you understand “why” a problem exists.

Serving up ways to protect user data

Alex J. Rushin, Engineer, Google Cloud Privacy and Security

Meet Alex. Alex started his career as a chef in the Bronx where he worked to support his family. To make ends meet, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and worked his way up to become a Sergeant. It wasn’t until later in his life that he learned that his own grandfather had also served in the armed forces. Says Alex, “Looking back, it’s ironic. He never mentioned that he served in Vietnam, but he was the one who taught me how to read military time. I never knew why until later.” Now Alex is a Privacy and Engineering Manager for Google. He still cooks in his free time.  

What’s your go-to G Suite app or feature? I manage both my personal and work life on my Google Calendar. I share it with friends and even color code events (Work = Blue and Personal = Purple). It’s distressing how much they overlap these days.

What’s the best piece of “work” advice you’ve ever received? A former boss used to tell me all the time, Alex, “it’s not that serious.” Having served overseas, I know this firsthand. When something seems impossible at work, I remind myself that there are so many other (more important) things to worry about.

Teaching Googlers about data privacy and security

Matthew Melone, Program Manager, Google Cloud Privacy and Security Education

Meet Matt. Matt had a lot of catching up to do when he first began officer training. He jokes, “my peers were polishing off their marksmen scores, while I was still learning to tie my boots.” Ultimately joining as an infantry officer, his first assignment was leading a rifle platoon in Iraq. He finished his time in the military as an intelligence officer and company commander. Matt parlayed this military experience into security and privacy education at Google. He runs e-learning projects to educate Googlers on how to keep information secure.

What’s your go-to G Suite app or feature? I have a long commute in the mornings—so offline syncing in Google Docs helps me stay productive. I use it to work or write stories in the morning. I actually write short stories for my kids. Their most recent favorite is about a boy that stays overnight in an amusement park. They love it.

What helps you stay focused at work? I used to be hesitant to block off chunks of time on my calendar because I thought it made me appear unavailable to my team. Recently, I’ve started being more assertive with my time by saying “no” when it makes sense. It helps me get so much more done.

Solving problems to help businesses grow

Rafael Albornoz, Sales Finance Manager, Google Ads

Meet Rafael. Originally from Long Island, Rafael is the middle of three brothers, all of whom attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After graduation, he went on to serve in the U.S. Army as a Field Artillery Officer where he was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Rafael led U.S. troops to partner with local governments, militia leaders and NATO forces to stabilize regions and improve the lives of local nationals. Now, Rafael works for the Sales Finance team where he partners with business leaders to help digital advertisers solve business challenges and grow.

What helps you stay focused at work? Taking into account how my work will impact others. At the end of the day, if someone is waiting on me for something, even if it’s not terribly exciting, giving them what they need is what helps me stay focused.

What’s the best piece of “work” advice you’ve ever received? Remember that when you’re looking at other people’s successes in life or their career, they’re not bragging about their failures. Success isn’t always as a linear as it may look on a LinkedIn profile or resume. If you fail, it’s okay. You’re not alone. It’s part of the journey to success. 

Teaching Googlers and customers about cybersecurity and privacy

David Mills, Program Manager and Team Lead, Google Cloud Privacy and Security Education

Meet David. David joined the Air Force right out of high school, following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps who served in Vietnam and WWII respectively. After basic training, he scored his first job: securing the parameter outpost of nuclear weapons stored in the Mojave desert. His days were long and hot, but he eventually worked his way up to various positions focused on cybersecurity where he was deployed overseas for missions. Today, he’s the Security and Privacy Education Lead for Google Cloud. Says David, “my experience in the military was focused so much on changing how people think about cybersecurity which directly translates to how we help protect our customers’ information.” 

What’s your go-to G Suite app or feature? Hangouts Meet. Video conferencing changes how you work with people. 

What’s the best piece of “work” advice you’ve ever received? Someone once told me: remember that you’re not your current rank; you’re training to be the rank above yourself right now. We should all think a few steps ahead of ourselves to see the bigger picture.

Happy Veterans Day to those who serve selflessly.

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