Inside Google Cloud
“Take that leap of faith” Meet the Googler helping customers create financial inclusion
Editor’s note: Arabella Gilles is the Senior Program Manager at Google Cloud, helping to drive Cloud’s work to empower Black owned businesses in the financial services industry. Arabella channeled her hospitality background to build trust and lasting relationships with these businesses, showing how Cloud could help scale their businesses and build financial inclusion for their communities.
What brought you to Google?
Honestly, the opportunity fell in my lap. I had just graduated from NYU with an MS in business ops and hospitality, and a staffing agency for Google reached out—they were looking for hospitality majors to support recruitment, hosting an engineer for the day as they walked through their interview process. I took the chance!
Can you tell us a little bit more about your role as senior program manager at Google Cloud?
I am the lead program manager across our program to grow Cloud with Black+ -owned businesses. We created this program to help enable digital acceleration for institutions playing a crucial role in combating systemic racism, and to increase their presence in the financial services industry.
In my role, I work directly with customers, bringing together their vision with our engineering and innovation, to help them see their future on cloud.
I’m proud to share that by aligning our mission with the right partners, the team has identified, integrated, and onboarded seven Black-owned financial services institutions onto Google Cloud.
For example, we worked with First Independence, a black owned bank headquartered in Michigan who has been serving the local community—including small businesses—for 52 years. We partnered with a digital lending platform to help them digitize their loan process, allowing clients to quickly and easily apply for loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loans). Without the new tech infrastructure, many of their clients may have missed the opportunity to get this federal - and for many businesses, critical - support due to slow processes.
We started small and learned a lot along the way, now we want to expand to other industries. Helping one bank at a time creates a lasting impact. (You can read more about the banks here)
How do you feel like your background in hospitality supports your current role?
I like to think of myself as a problem solver. It's very cliche, but I love really working with people and helping them figure out how to get to their end goal.
In this particular role, it’s working with customers, specifically financial institutions, that didn't trust putting financial information on the cloud. Once I started to engage with these customers, I was able to build trust with them through a larger goal of helping the community. Once we built that rapport, they felt more comfortable. I want to help our underbanked communities be financially secure, have financial literacy and build generational wealth.
We now have other industries that have heard about us and want to learn more about the program.
Why do you think that cloud is well positioned to help advance financial inclusion?
We all know about the wealth gap. We all know about the education gap. Cloud technology can help, Cloud’s scale and flexibility could actually change the lives generationally of people that need help.
We can really shift the focus on not just saying Black Lives Matter, saying a name, or wearing a t-shirt, but also empowering organizations to grow their impact and better serve their communities.
How would you describe your experience at Google?
To begin my career here as a TVC and wanting to be a full-timer; to getting a role right before a pandemic, then being promoted last year, I still can't believe it.
I couldn't be at a company that I didn't align with what they were putting out there. I'm not a fake it ‘til you make it kind of person. I'm very honest and transparent. And, I feel that Google, at its core, is a great company.
Do you have advice for other people who may want to align their passion with their profession?
Take that leap of faith. I followed a great manager to this role, took a chance, and am so glad I did.