Internationalization with Naveen Nigam

By | August 13, 2019

with the tech session now. And I’m the only thing
standing between you and lunch, so I apologize. But what I’m going
to do right now is, I’m really just having
an open conversation with all of you. I’m going to try to keep
this under 20 minutes to get you to food much faster. I don’t have any slides,
primarily because I’m horrible at using the clicker. And I don’t want to
actually have a format. What I want to do is have
an open conversation. Mics are around. I’m OK if someone wants
to actually interrupt while I’m talking and
ask certain things, or clarify something,
or get more information. But I introduced
myself as Naveen Nigam, told you my title. I want to give you a
little bit more background on what I’ve done. So prior to joining the
developer relations team, I was on the Google Play team. So on Google Play team, I
ran policy and operations divisions, working
through– we were talking through the Android presentation
about being compliant, making sure you
know the policies. I authored a lot of those. And a lot of those
updates, I worked on that. So if you have Google
Play questions, feel free to ask me later on. Prior to that, I was at
BlackBerry for 10 years. And while I was at
BlackBerry, I was the Director of Ecosystem Operations, so
managed the entire app store. I worked with a lot of
international employees. So I had a very
large team in India. I had a very large
team in Indonesia. And I’ve learned a
lot through working with folks in North America and
folks in India and Indonesia. And today, what I want to
focus on with all of you is not how to work at an
international company, but how to work at an
international level. And that’s all about a mindset– and I’m really talking
about three key things. And there’s many things
that we can talk about. Today I’m going to try to
focus on just three key things that I feel you will all benefit
immensely from, three things– communication, a
commitment to excellence, and three, having a
mindset of inclusivity. So those are the three things
I’m going to talk about. I’m going to kick off on that. Feel free, again, to interrupt. I have some stories to
share with you and whatnot. Communication,
first off, everyone who’s come up on stage,
part of yesterday’s session, today doing the
recaps, just stand up. Just stand up where
you are if you came up on stage to present your project
or whatnot, present your ideas. OK, quick, quick, quick. OK, everyone, huge round
of applause for these guys. [APPLAUSE] So thank you. You guys can have a seat. I don’t know if you
guys know this or not, but when they rate the fears of
the world, fear of snakes, fear spiders, fear darkness, fear
of claustrophobia, what not, the number one fear in the world
is public speaking, number one. That just goes to show
how daunting of a task it is to do public speaking. So with everyone who
actually came up and spoke, kudos to you. I also want to highlight
something, though. The team that won, they
definitely followed the format. They definitely
had great points. But one of the key things to
their success and why they won is the articulation of what
they said and how they said it. Communication was key. They came up with confidence. They had everything to say. They went in a format. They were articulating and
structuring their thoughts in a way that it was
comprehendable by everyone. And they got everyone’s
attention and did not let go. That is huge. And as all of you are going
through your university, what– or university, or colleges,
and your education, I urge you to practice that. I used to– and I’m
not joking about this. I used to stand in
front of a mirror and just say everything
I had to say, even if it was
just for a meeting. I practiced phone
calls at times, because I was so
nervous, I mean, am I going to do well
on this phone call? OK, let me pretend
I’m on a phone and stand in front of the
mirror and see how I do– whatever works for you,
practice, practice, practice. But the main thing here
is that you can have all the content in the world. You can have all the
knowledge in the world. If you cannot articulate
and share that information, it’s useless. And I mean that. I genuinely mean that. Because I was having a
conversation with someone about, when talking
to employers, when in an interview,
but the conversation was on higher education
versus knowledge. Sure, knowledge is everything. You want knowledge. I put knowledge higher
than higher education. But if you can’t
communicate that knowledge, if you can’t express
and articulate why, how, what you know, how
is anyone going to know? And all of a sudden,
it doesn’t matter, because someone who
was able to articulate, even if they didn’t
have as much knowledge but they were able to
articulate it well, they immediately
have an upper hand. So when we talk
about communication, I can definitely say,
you know, that there are bunch of tactics to use. But I urge you all to practice. So in Indonesia– I’ll give
you an Indonesian example. When we were
building this team– this was a team that was
actually communicating back to developers like
yourselves and telling them why their app was
denied on the App Store. They were like, we
reviewed your application. And there were some
policy violations. And as a result, we’ve denied
your app till you fix this. All of those were template. As soon as a developer
followed up, OK I fixed this, or I changed this, or I don’t
understand what I did wrong, all of a sudden there was a
need of the clear articulation of what the issue is
back to the developer. When we set up
shop in Indonesia, we realized that
80% of the staff was really good in this
communication piece. 20% was not. And we had to immediately
switch that up. We cannot have communication
officially coming from a large entity and them not clearly
articulating what the problem is. As developers, imagine
how frustrating that is. So we made a change. We changed that immediately. And listen, I know that when we
talk about English, if English is not your first
language, it’s not easy. And it’s intimidating. For me, I think the
same with Hindi. So I like to say
I’m fluent in Hindi. I understand Hindi. I speak Hindi. But someone who is truly fluent,
when they hear my Hindi– just listen to the way I
pronounced half the names. I’m not that good. I can understand it. I can speak it, but my
pronunciation, my grammar is incorrect. And what happens is, in
situations like that, when I speak Hindi, it
sounds weird to the ear. Sure, they understand
what I mean. Sure, I can get by. But it doesn’t sound right. And that’s what you
need to work on. So when I say practice, talk
as much English as possible. Talk to other people in English. A lot of people,
their comfort is– and in my family, everyone
who I know in India, their comfort is Hindi. Their comfort is
their local language. And they speak it even
with their family and all. If you can practice
speaking more English and speak to people
who you admire. Their English is really good. I want to talk to
them in English and tell them, listen,
criticize my English. It’s scary. But when you’re
talking, ask people to point out my mistakes. If I’m making a mistake,
if I said something wrong, if it didn’t sound right, tell
me, because that’s the only way I’m going to be able
to improve my English. And so for me, that’s
exactly what I do with Hindi. I got to a point
where I regretted it, because I was constantly
told how I was always wrong. And the biggest person
to tell me was my wife. And she was like,
what are you saying? That’s not right at all. And her concern
was, if you speak like that in front
of our son, that’s what he’s going to learn. So fix your Hindi, quick. And so absolutely, but it helps. But open yourself to
criticism, ensure you practice, and get that feedback so you
can make those improvements. Any questions on the
communication piece? I know I just kind of did
a quick overview of that. I’m going to go
into the next one. OK, the next piece, when
I talk about working at an international level– oh, there is a question. Sorry, let’s get a
mic to you quickly. There you go. AUDIENCE: How do
you help someone who wants to better
their articulation or English without, what do
you say, discouraging them? And like, if you’re just
only criticizing them, so where do you get
the balance where you are connecting them
but also at the same time encouraging them
to get it right? NAVEEN NIGAM: Great question,
absolutely great question– so the question,
again, is how do you help someone improve
their English, and you’re criticizing
their English without discouraging them? Something that I say, when I
work with folks all the time, is, like, listen, I
consider myself close enough to you to tell you this is
the wrong way of saying it and this is the right
way of saying it. And I’m telling you this because
I know, when I tell it to you, you’re going to make
an effort to fix it. And so I’d rather tell it to you
than have somebody else tell it to you. And I’d rather tell
it to you as opposed to you making that mistake
in front of somebody else and them not telling you but
judging you based on that, making a decision on you
based on whatever mistake you potentially made. And when you come
into a habit of that– and to be fair, it’s
not just the person delivering the message. The person receiving it has
to be open to it as well. And sometimes you
have to be careful. I’m a lot more sensitive
and a lot more careful when I know that someone
is very self-conscious about their English. I still tell them,
but I’m very careful. And I’m very polite, and
just be very subtle about, you know what, this
may sound better. Did you look at this? I used to say this
line a lot actually. I used to make the same mistake. Someone corrected me, and
now I don’t make that, so I just wanted to
share that with you. Even if it’s not true, it
puts someone in a better spot. OK, number two that
I want to talk about is commitment to excellence. And this is where I’m going
to be a little bit harsher. Commitment to
excellence means a lot. Make it happen. Do what it takes to get the
job done and do it right the first time. It is a dedication to your job. It’s a dedication to
keeping your word. It’s a dedication to, if someone
asks you to do something, you did it to the point
that that person now– it was a guarantee to them. I made the right decision to
ask this individual to do it, because he or she did it
right, did it on time, and did exactly what
I needed, and more. All of you, you’re all leaders. You’re not only leaders, you
are the future generation. And you represent India. And this is not just
something to say. I, back in my previous life
when I was at BlackBerry, I remember having conversations
with other colleagues of mine. And we had some Indian
colleagues in the room. And we had some Canadian
colleagues in the room. Indian colleagues mentioned,
and they talk about, OK, you know what? We’re going to meet
after work at 7:30. It became a running joke. The Canadians there simply
said, well is that IST or EST? IST, Indian Standard
Time, or EST, which is Eastern Standard
Time, where we were in Canada. It was genuine that they said,
since you’re saying 7:30, you probably mean 8:00
or 8:30, not 7:30, because there’s no way you’re
going to show up on time. That stereotype is actually
filtering across North America. It’s a joke, but it’s true. People believe that if an
Indian person is given a time, add 30 minutes to an
hour on top of that. And you laugh. And I’m going to use
the word that I said earlier, that’s unacceptable. We cannot do that. And it sounds kind
of funny, like, why is this person on
stage, like, honing in, and is harping on this? Because it says so much about
who we are as individuals. We cannot let that stereotype
be, because what’s next? It’s not just, oh,
they can’t be on time. I don’t know about
the quality of work they’re going to give either. If they’re not committed
to being on time, how can they be
committed to excellence? It is a slippery slope. I strongly urge all of you,
please, make it a habit. Because here’s the thing. I’ve heard different things. I’ve heard a plethora of excuses
as to why someone’s late. OK, you know what, let
me ask this question. How many people are
from Bangalore here? OK, if you’re from
Bangalore, stand up. And listen carefully
to my question. How many of you don’t know that
the traffic is really, really bad in Bangalore? If you don’t know traffic
is really bad in Bangalore, stay standing. If you know it’s
bad, have a seat. OK so now, they all
know traffic is bad. How in the world is
traffic an excuse then? It’s not. It can’t be, because it’s
not an unknown factor. Traffic is bad. Plan ahead. It may take you half
an hour to an hour. It could take you
an hour and a half. Plan ahead. Now, I’ve taken one,
actually, exercise on my team. And I have done this
with execs, VPs, C levels that I’m having a meeting with. And I have one simple rule. Usually in a meeting,
the junior most person will take the notes. Or there’s someone
assigned to take the notes. My rule is, absolutely not. The last person to enter that
office or join the meeting is taking notes. I am not being sarcastic here. I have had a time where
the COO of the company was the one who had to take
notes because he came in late. Sure, he had another meeting. Sure, it was with a stakeholder. It went late. That doesn’t mean that everyone
else’s time is not valuable. When we talk about punctuality,
when we talk about commitment to excellence, it’s about
respect for others and respect for yourself. Again, I know I sound
a little ridiculous really pinning on this. Please, please, please,
take this to heart. Change that mindset,
because it’s a mindset to the
point where it’s become acceptable to be late. And others, other
nations are seeing that and are stereotypically
calling out Indians as always being late. As the future of India,
the power of changing that is literally in your hands,
so please change that. Now, let me talk
about a third thing. And the third thing I
wanted to talk about was mindset of inclusivity. What does that mean? When we’re building
a product, when we’re building a service,
when we do anything, as a group of developers,
you’re building apps, you’re doing all
sorts of things. Inclusivity means having as
many opinions as possible on your team. You want opinions from different
races, different cultures. One of the biggest
ones, you want opinions from both a male perspective
and a female perspective. Think about it. You’re building a
product where 50%– unless it is gender
specific, if it’s just for the general
audience, your app is going to be looked at
by 50% women and 50% men. How can you not have
a women’s perspective when building this application? There’s an issue in India,
in general– and actually, it’s not even India, this
is around the world– about the number
of women who join CS, engineering, tech degrees. We have to change that. We have to get more
diversity in these programs, because it’s going to
make a huge difference in the products. The more women you
have, the more– and look at this room right now. Like, this is a mosaic. We have people from all across
India, not just one region. If it was one region, what
is it going to look like? We have women. We have men. I want I want more
women here, definitely. But we need to
change the mindset to make sure people
recognize that. So Google is huge. Their mandate on, OK,
when we have speakers, we need to make sure we have
equal number of women speaker and equal number of speakers. When we have different
programs, when we have different contests,
when we have different– anything across the
board, we are focused. It is not an easy
problem to solve. Google has not solved it. Please don’t quote me that,
oh, Google has figured it out. We have not figured it out. We’re working towards that. My personal goal,
try to figure out, how do we get more women
interested in the program? So the developer
relations program, we have a lot of
different initiatives, women techmaker initiatives. When we talk about GDGs,
we’re looking at, OK, how do we increase diversity? I have one great example
that highlights that when you don’t have
diversity in your team the type of mistakes
that can happen. Some of you may already
know this story. It is the hand dryer story. So when you go to
certain washroom, you put your hands
under, senses your hands, and it shoots out
air, dries your hand. Everyone’s on the same page? Fine– we had this team. They build it. They build a hand dryer. They build it. They designed it. They did everything to it. They had a bunch
of testing on it. Everything worked flawlessly. They got huge orders. They installed it everywhere. And within two days,
there was a video on YouTube highlighting the
bias, the unconscious bias that this team had. White guy goes to
use it, no problem. African American
comes right after, puts his hand under the machine,
doesn’t work, absolutely doesn’t work. He’s like, oh jeez, OK, looks
like it’s a one time shot. That’s what’s happening. So another guy came in,
white guy, use the machine. It worked. Without recognizing it,
the team didn’t even account for different color of
skin when building this machine and building the sensors. That same African
American gentleman put a white paper towel on his
hand, went under the machine, it worked. This went viral on YouTube. Now, is it fair to say
that the company is racist? No, they had no people of
color on their testing team. So each time they
were testing it, everything worked perfectly. Now, without even
knowing it, there was a dependency on color. And they couldn’t know
that without having that inclusive environment,
inclusive product team. And so as you are all developers
or aspiring developers, as you’re all going to be
part of different teams, I urge you again, make sure
to have a diverse team. Think with inclusivity. When you have a diverse team,
you get different opinions. As you get different opinions,
you get different perspectives. As you get different
perspectives, you get a better product. Now, I didn’t want to really get
into a lot of huge lecture mode and kind of tone
down the whole mood. But I really want you guys
all to think about this. And let me know if you
disagree with anything. Or if you feel that
there’s something that’s completely off point,
I’d love to hear about it. I’d love to talk
about this some more. And this is something that
I could talk on for hours, and hours, and hours. So please, find me later on. I’ll be happy to
talk to all of you. And I’m 50 seconds
overtime, I think? So I apologize. I took 50 seconds
into your lunch. We are good for lunch
now, but before that, I’m going to give a
couple of minutes. Any questions, or even if it’s
not a question, comments– approval, disapproval,
agreement, disagreement, anything. AUDIENCE: Don’t
you sometimes think that the very fact that
we emphasize so much on the inclusivity of gender
everywhere, that we emphasize it so much, that it’s
ultimately going around the loop and highlighting
the discrimination? Like, why can we not
be natural about it? Why do we have to specifically
point it out and say that, OK, yeah, we have to include
this much ratio to cut off all the discrimination
that’s going around? NAVEEN NIGAM: Amazing
question, and it’s something that’s debated regularly, that– [APPLAUSE] Yes, it is debated
regularly, that are we part of the problem? Are we part of the problem by
highlighting this all the time? The issue is this. The problem exists. For the longest time, no one
has paid attention to it. And it’s not so much–
and I told myself I wouldn’t get into
this, these nuances, because I know there are
certain things happening in India, specifically. But to solve this problem
is not let more women in. It’s not, oh, OK, let– if
there’s an engineering program, let’s get more women in. I– this is my personal take,
not Google’s perspective, and I’m not that aware of the
politics behind in India– but I’m not agreement of
any sort of quota system. You know, we need this
many of this gender, this many of this race,
this many of this culture, and this many of– no. Here’s your standard. Whoever meets the
standard, go for it. But it’s not about who gets in. It’s not about that
standard either. It’s, are there unsaid
biases preventing women to achieve that standard? As an example– and this is why
I use the word very carefully– mindset, the mindset of
everyone has to change. So when parents– and
you’re all, if not parents, you’re going to become parents. When you’re talking
your kids, make sure, how many of our parents– and I’ll be the first one
to say, my parents did this. They would look at the
guy, oh, [SPEAKING HINDI].. You’ll be an engineer. And they’ll look
at the girl, it oh you’ll be a doctor, if not a
doctor than something else. It was already type casted that
these are the type of roles that you can do or that
what you should do. That’s what we want to change. And this is why, as
we talk more about it, it highlights the
change that’s needed. And maybe the
point is don’t talk about how we need to balance out
the equation in the workforce or in universities, talk
about the discrimination that goes on behind closed doors. And how do we change that? It’s important. And unfortunately, unless we
talk about it at a results level, that the end result
needs to be more inclusivity, we can’t get to the deep
root of the issue, which is, the mindset needs to change. Great question, thank you– all right, thank you, everyone. SPEAKER: Thank you
so much, Naveen. Can we hear a big round
of applause for Naveen? [MUSIC PLAYING]

6 thoughts on “Internationalization with Naveen Nigam

  1. Utkarsh Jaiswal Post author

    in which city this tech session is organised

  2. Kripesh Adwani Post author

    Yes communication skills are important.
    The way I'm improving them is by sharing my knowledge through videos on YouTube 🙂

  3. A Tek Post author

    I want to job in Google company….



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