Moriah Baxevane-Connell is a Cloud Consultant for Google Cloud and has previously worked for Microsoft. We caught up with her ahead of her session at European Women in Tech to discuss her role at Google and as a woman in tech.
Tell us a little about yourself
A: I’m from a very small town in the middle of Pennsylvania USA - so small that we had a day off of school every year for the first day of hunting season and ‘Tractor Day’ was an annual celebration as well, with many of my fellow classmates driving their tractors into school. We didn’t have any computer science classes in my high school, but I excelled at math and decided to study it at university in Philadelphia. I changed into computer science after taking a required C++ class for the maths degree and realised my love for coding and technology.
After graduation I started a job with Microsoft as a Database Consultant. I was a ‘road warrior’ and spent 4-5 days a week for over 4 years on the road, traveling and working with large enterprise customers across the US and Europe to get better usage out of their Microsoft technologies. I’ve heard it said that 1 year in consulting is like 3 years in any other job, and I definitely agree. It’s an incredible, fast-paced learning experience but also can get tiring. After almost 4.5 years in the role, I decided to make a big life change and left Microsoft, moved to the UK, and started studying for an MBA at the University of Oxford. After graduating from the MBA last September, I started a job as a Cloud Consultant with Google in London where I get to work with enterprise customers to optimise their migrations to and usage of Google Cloud Platform.
Throughout my career - ever since I sat in my first CIS class at university - I’ve been a huge advocate for women in technology. I’m thrilled to be a part of this year’s EWiT conference and am excited for the chance to get to meet, learn from, and listen to so many amazing women and allies across the field.
What difficulties did you face when establishing your career and how did you overcome them?
A: For the majority of my career, I’ve been one of the only (if not the only) female in the room and more often than not, I’ve also been the youngest person by 10+ years. There were (and still are) many times I found it difficult to make myself heard in meetings, gain the customer’s trust, and establish myself as a competent, technical resource.
To overcome this, I began by challenging myself in every meeting I was in to speak up at least once - whether it be for a question, to request more information, or to make a comment. Doing this really helped to make my voice heard, contribute to the conversation, ensure I was gaining credibility with the other folks in the meeting, and boost my confidence as well. I’m still actively doing this in meetings today - and sometimes still consider it a ‘challenge’ - but each time it gets easier. It’s also been critical to have others in the room to help elevate my voice at different time as well, and I’ve been lucky to have great ally support along the way.
What is a typical day at work like for you?
A: The exciting part about being a Technology Consultant is that no day looks the same - I get the opportunity to work with many different customers on a variety of cloud projects across different geographies while also enjoying the perks of Google. On a typical day if I’m not at a customer site, I’ll be dialling into video conferencing calls with customers throughout Europe, probably attending an interesting talk held by Google during lunch, working on cloud architecture diagrams and solving customer problems in the afternoon, and then attending some internal team meetings to round out the day.
What excites you most about working in the tech industry?
A: I love the fact that the industry is always changing - especially in cloud. Outside of tech, when I speak about something that is "long term", I mean 5, 10, 20+ years - inside tech, "long term" to me means 1-2 years, which is just amazing. There’s never a shortage of new things to learn and incredibly interesting people to talk to and learn from. This dynamic industry really allows for creative and curious people to excel, and ensures that nobody is ever bored.
What is the best part about working for Google?
A: It sounds cliche, but the people at Google are without a doubt the best part of working here. My wider team is diverse, interesting, and always willing to go the extra mile to help each other out. There’s also been so many times I’ve found myself having a coffee with a fellow Googler - discussing everything from technology to the dogs around the office, current events to their upcoming hike to Everest Base Camp - and neither of us have realised that an hour plus has gone by. Working at Google has exposed me to a variety of people from across a multitude of industries and backgrounds - I’ve even found fellow Philadelphia sports fans to talk American football and baseball with!
Why have you decided to get involved with European Women in Tech?
A: A common theme throughout my schooling as well as career has been the promotion and encouragement of women in technology. I’ve attended and spoken at the Grace Hopper Conference of Women in Computing multiple times and loved every second of it - and now that I’m in the UK I’m thrilled to get involved in conferences and organisations on this side of the pond. I attended Women of Silicon Roundabout earlier this year in London and was energised once again by all of the incredible women in the field. I’m really looking forward to European Women in Technology and getting to hear from and speak to many others!
What will you be speaking about at the conference and why have you chosen this topic?
A: I’ll be speaking with my teammate, colleague, mentor, and all-around amazing woman-in-tech coworker Ada about a new tool on Google Cloud Platform called Data Fusion. We’ve titled our talk ‘’Your Data in the Cloud: Building Robust Data Pipelines without Writing a Line of Code’’ because that’s exactly what Data Fusion allows the user to do - and it’s really cool to see. We’re hoping to show a demo (because the product is THAT easy to use!) and also get some fun audience participation as well.
Who is your female tech inspiration and why?
A: My female tech inspiration isn’t just one person - it’s all of my amazing mentors that I’ve been lucky enough to amass and keep over the years. From three incredible female IT professors during my time at university and a mentor I met on my first day on the job at Microsoft to all of the amazing women I met whilst completing my MBA and numerous new mentors I’ve picked up while at Google - all of these women (and men!) inspire me each and every day.
To find out more about Moriah and her session at this year's European Women in Technology conference, click here.