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Google Cloud's new top Europe exec was a teacher before becoming one of the most powerful women in tech. She says value for customers will help it catch Amazon and Microsoft.

Google Cloud EMEA president Adaire Fox-Martin.

  • Adaire Fox-Martin joined Google Cloud as EMEA president in July this year. 
  • An industry veteran, she has spent 30 years working for tech giants like Oracle and SAP. 
  • Insider asked her about her unconventional career path, the future of work, and competing in cloud.

Google managed a coup in July when it poached Adaire Fox-Martin, formerly a top exec at SAP, to run its cloud business in EMEA.

Fox-Martin’s hire followed the departure of Chris Ciauri, a Salesforce alumnus who moved to Google in 2019 but left after 18 months.

An industry veteran with more than three decades’ experience at rivals like Oracle and SAP, Fox-Martin sat down with Insider to discuss her unconventional career path, the future of remote work, and what Google Cloud has planned.

Fox-Martin worked as a high school teacher before hearing Oracle was recruiting

In 1984, Fox-Martin graduated from Trinity College, Ireland’s most prestigious university, and took a high school teaching job in London. “As a teacher there is a lot that you learn every day,” she told Insider. “Teaching is the one job in the world where you are instantly the CEO of the 30 people sitting right in front of you.” 

Before a friend mentioned that software company Oracle had been offering training contracts to graduates, Fox-Martin says she hadn’t considered a career in technology. 

“It was an interesting recruitment process for me,” she said. “The interviewer told me they had a folder of candidates with the technical knowledge and experience necessary for the role — but they made the decision to offer me the job.

GettyImages 908368194
Google Cloud must work to catch up with Amazon and Microsoft in enterprise cloud computing.

“That person took a chance on me, and kickstarted a career that I never dreamed back then would have been possible. It’s impacted the way I think about recruitment in our industry today.” 

Over the following two decades, Fox-Martin worked her way up through Oracle’s ranks, eventually becoming the firm’s VP for Government, Education, and Healthcare for the APAC region.

She then switched to rival SAP, eventually sitting on its executive board, before joining Google.

She’s confident Google Cloud can catch up with rivals by focusing on customers

“Each of my previous companies has its own distinct culture. An organization is the sum of its people, and Google Cloud is no different,’ she said, adding that she was enjoying learning “what it means to be a ‘Googler.'”

Asked why Google Cloud’s EMEA team has seen an exodus of top talent – her predecessor Ciauri, VP of operations Sanj Bhayro, and UK and Ireland chief Pip White — Fox-Martin said, diplomatically, she had “the privilege and the honor to lead a team of dedicated and talented professionals.” 

Google hopes to one day turn its cloud-computing business into a dominant force to equal its position in search and ads. As it stands, it must work to catch up with rivals Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services both in terms of market share and profitability.

Insider’s Rosalie Chan reported in October that Google Cloud grew 45% year on year for Q3 2021 to $4.99 billion in revenue — impressive growth, but not enough to propel Google into the number two spot in the short term, analysts said.

“For me, it’s not about a race to be number one,” Fox-Martin said. “It’s about delivering the best value possible for our customers and, as a result of doing that, we will acquire market share.” 

Sanj Bhayro
Sanj Bhayro was one of a number of execs to quit Google Cloud in recent months

And when it comes to the future of work, irreversibly altered by the pandemic, where does she fall? 

“Personally, I was someone who went from having a 90% travel profile to staying in one place, and not just one place, but one room for the last eighteen months,” Fox-Martin said. 

“On the hybrid-working debate specifically, I think there will be a balanced mixture of office days and remote days,” she added.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in October that three days in the office, two at home, was the ideal balance.

“We are social creatures and the connection to our colleagues at work is important,” said Fox-Martin.

Are you a current or former Google employee with more to share? You can contact this reporter using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email (mcoulter@insider.com). Reach out using a nonwork device.

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