Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about dynamic and creative women at Google. Rebecca Prozan spends her days as Google’s Head of Public Affairs for California (read on for more on what that means) and by night she’s a wine connoisseur, cyclist and aspiring chef.
How do you explain your job at a dinner party?
I run local government and community relations for Google across California. By partnering with school districts or local nonprofits, I try to show people the value that Google brings to their hometowns.
What’s one habit that makes you successful?
Going to the gym. I’m all about putting your phone down for 30 minutes, walking away and checking out.
What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?
Take risks. Don’t assume that you know what you want to do with your life.
Did you take enough risks in your early career?
I’ve loved politics from a very young age, and every time you sign up for a campaign it’s a risk because you don’t know if you’re going to win. The one risk I’ve never taken is leaving California—although it’s a blessing to never experience real winter!
How did you first get started in public service?
Some people grow up as football players or cheerleaders, and I had campaigns. My parents instilled in me at a young age an urge to create a better world, and for me that meant electing good people to public office and ultimately public service.
What did your years working on political campaigns teach you?
You have to be good to everyone because you never know who you’ll work with. There’s a saying: “Be good on the way up, because there’s gonna be a way down.”
What did you learn from the politicians that you campaigned for?
You’re never going to make everybody happy, but you need to know what your true north is and base your decisions on that.
In your work with the Gayglers, a community within Google, you’ve spoken about the importance of creating a work environment where people can live their lives authentically. What was a moment where you felt the strength of the Gaygler community at Google?
Every Pride Parade. We see the best in Gayglers, who put in so much effort to create an event using our brand and our product to show the world who we are.
Rebecca and some fellow Googlers at the Pride parade last year.
How can managers play a role in helping people live authentically?
Question your own biases and have honest, personal conversations. My first manager at Google made sure that we set personal OKRs (a term we use at Google for setting goals), as well as business ones—and that we refreshed them every year. My first one was to spend time with my nephews and niece—I’ve never spent as much time with them as I did when I had a goal to spend more time with family. Creating personal OKRs helps me balance work and life goals and reminds me of what is important in life.
What’s the most interesting part of your job?
All the twists and turns.
At one point in your career, you were a Recreation and Parks Commissioner. How are you similar or different than Leslie Knope?
First of all, Parks and Rec is spot on. I’ve met politicians who walked off that set. The best part about Leslie is that her intentions are so real—all she wants to do is restore trust in local government. I’m similar to her, because I believe in public service, it’s ingrained in me.