Former teacher Claire Conneely was in the middle of her PhD when she joined Google Ireland in Dublin in September 2014 as Director of Education.
Rather than dropping out of college, she was encouraged to pursue a PhD by a company that continues to motivate her to achieve her goals — including educating the next generation.
As someone who is passionate about education, Ms. Conneely says she landed her dream job in 2014, thereby maximizing Google’s impact in computer science education in Ireland, other parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“We are focused on increasing access to technology learning opportunities for students and young people in elementary and secondary school,” she says. “It’s about teaching young people how to think, how to be creative, how to solve problems. It’s about teaching them to be proactive with technology.”
In 2003, Google opened a small office in Ireland with a handful of employees in Dublin. Today, as its headquarters for Europe, Middle East and Africa in Dublin, it employs over 9,000 people from over 100 nations – with the likes of Ms. Conneely at the helm.
As part of a global company, she has the opportunity to partner with education initiatives, deliver computer science and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, and implement strategies to influence education policy.
“It’s that kind of place, if you have an idea, we have the autonomy and support to make it happen,” says Ms. Conneely.
Her role is constantly evolving and earlier this year she helped launch a new education task force when Google Ireland partnered with six primary and secondary schools in Ringsend and the surrounding community.
The idea behind it, she says, is crucial – the need to address the challenges of the digital learning transition necessitated by Covid-19.
The creation of pilot projects supports the development of digital skills for students, parents and teachers while helping to protect the digital wellbeing of students.
“Working in this area means a lot to me,” says Ms. Conneely. “Education is something I’ve always been passionate about – changing the life of a young person. Our work is about making sure the task force is representative of everyone and I have a particular interest in getting more girls into computer science and technology because we need to have more women in the tech workforce and also in minority groups.”
Developing teaching methods that equip young people with the skills they need to learn, work and live in the challenging 21st century world is a “high priority” at Google.
Google Ireland’s Barrow Street base has become part of a thriving digital district where the Google office aims to create a “stimulating and interactive environment for employees”.
It now serves as a hub for dozens of functions and teams that support Google’s global operations.
“The building has wonderful facilities – from the cafes to the design of the meeting rooms – and is now ready for the new hybrid model with new team pods for collaborative work,” says Ms. Conneely.
“There is a very special atmosphere in the Dublin office. When you enter the office there is a smile and a desire to help each other. The place has great energy.”
With the introduction of feel-good days – essentially quarterly bonus holidays – Ms Conneely feels she can balance parents of three alongside work and life.
“Google has given us so much flexibility – not just for families, but also for those who have care responsibilities. They allow you to return to the office for support no matter where you feel comfortable.
“I started out as a teacher and now I work with organizations that help promote technology and computing in schools. I believe that technology can be a force for good and I can apply that to my work every day. I feel incredibly lucky.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/irelands-best-employers/me-and-my-employer-my-special-interest-is-getting-more-girls-into-the-tech-industry-41670056.html Me & my employer: “My special interest is to bring more girls into the tech industry”