The inaugural Tech Council of Australia’s National Tech Summit 2023 kicked off today in Brisbane and Women Love Tech caught up with Melanie Silva, the MD for Google A/NZ.
Melanie gave her top tips for increasing the number of women in tech, talked about Google’s appetite for investing in the Australian tech market and shared her role model as a young girl, and how she originally harboured a desire to be a journalist.
Melanie, dressed in black with colourful sneakers, was on the panel session: How can Australia spur investment and build globally competitive companies. The session was moderated by the Tech Council of Australia’s MD Kate Pounder. Kate gave an in-depth exploration of how global and local economic conditions influence investment trends within Australia’s tech industries.
Panel members also included Meghan Quinn PSM, Secretary, Department of Industry, Science and Resources, Dan Krasnostein, Partner, SquarePeg, and Eglantine Etiemble, Group Chief Technology Officer, PEXA.
Here’s a transcript of Robyn Foyster’s interview with Melanie Silva:
ROBYN: We’re here at the National Tech Summit in Brisbane and I’m really delighted that we’ve been able to catch up with Melanie Silva, the MD for Google A/NZ.. Mel, you gave a great speech just now about the future of tech and Google’s plan to continue to invest in Australia. Do you want to expand on that?
MEL: Yes, sure. About November 2021, we launched a digital future initiative – a $1 billion dollar investment in Australia’s future. I think all of us at Google in Australia are really passionate about what Aussie’s can do when they come together to solve problems. And so, for us, investing in research, the partnerships as well as the infrastructure is really, really important. There’s some great examples that we’ve been able to get off the ground in the last 18 months. We’re super, super proud of it.
ROBYN: That’s exciting. At Women Love Tech, our mission is to get more women into technology and STEM. What are the main ways that we can change the status quo so that we get more gender equality? Let’s face it, tech is one of the most exciting industries to work in, and it’s highly paid, so what do we need to do next?
MEL: I think my two top tips would be – not all jobs in tech are coding, so if you’re not a coder and you’re not interested in engineering, please don’t think that that’s a barrier. There are plenty of other roles where you can use your strengths but still be involved in what’s a really dynamic, well-paid space. And I think the second thing is, if you do have an interest, it’s never too late to start learning, it’s never too late to pivot.
We’ve launched a Google careers certificates about 6 months ago, we’ve had over 3000 Aussie’s take it up, 50% of the people who’ve graduated were working full time when they completed this course. So you can do it in your own time, at your own pace, and I think that’s a huge unlock for women who are, 9 times out of 10, working a full time job, are the CEO, CMO and CFO of their families (plus the Chief Logistics Officer, in my case!). So, you know, I think just make the start, make the change and do it at your own pace, and start today.
ROBYN: You’ve come through to the most amazing job as one of the top women in tech in Australia – you can’t be what you can’t see, so it’s really great seeing and profiling you today.
MEL: Thank you!
ROBYN: Because we do need to have role models. Who was your role model?
MEL: Ironically, well I love Kylie Minogue, so I’m not going to say… but Jana Wendt (Ch9 TV Journalist) was probably the first one who I sort of looked at who really was breaking a barrier for what women could do. At that time, you just didn’t see – particularly young females – doing that kind of investigating journalism so I did want to be a journalist in the early part of my career. But you know, I look around today and I think there is a huge number of role models for Australian girls and women to look up to. So all l you have to do is Google.
ROBYN: Google. That’s what we all do, is Google and Google and Google! So, thank you very much for today, lovely to talk to you.