Celebrating Black History Month at Google Canada: Meet Blessing Nnachi
Editor’s Note: For Black History Month, we're profiling some of the inspiring, dynamic and creative Canadian Black+ men and women at Google.
Blessing Nnachi believes technology is an equalizer. She sees the opportunities as endless, and for Blessing, her passion and love for technology have shaped her life since she was 11. What started out as an interest in robotics, led to a degree in computer science and today, she’s a Service Delivery Manager at Google Cloud.
Her path has been guided by the words ‘your chosen field, know everything you can about it’ and with that in mind, she believes while you’ll become an expert, learning never really ends. Blessing also recognizes the power and importance of having mentors, heroes and people that look like you or have stories that relate to you — and when she speaks about this, she notes that she acknowledges the responsibility (and burden) she has to inspire others to see themselves in a career in technology.
How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech?
I often tell people my role is similar to a consultant service manager. As a Service Delivery Manager on the Google Cloud Professional Services Organization (PSO) I oversee a team who are very much on the frontlines, working directly with our customers — providing technical advisory and engineering expertise.
Within PSO, my specific team is a mix of program managers, engineers and consultants. So what that means is, we work with clients who want to use Google Cloud but aren't sure where to start. We help them figure out a roadmap, provide design recommendations and implementation support. Our clients in Canada range from financial services, telecommunications, retail, gaming, and healthcare.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
I don't know if I would call it a challenge, but it is definitely something I pay a lot of attention to — my job is a balancing act! My days are rarely the same, but often have similar themes and so, I find there’s a healthy tension between different priorities.
Our vision as a team is to ‘help strategic customers solve their business objectives with Google Cloud’. This means that we help our customers solve really tough problems and my responsibility is enabling this, while also driving a sustainable business, all while protecting our culture and supporting our teams. And of course, there is the added complexity of working from home during the pandemic — so that has definitely been a challenge in 2020 and 2021.
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
The people on my team! Hiring them and watching them grow has undeniably been the most fulfilling part of my job. I get a lot of personal fulfillment from empowering, enabling, coaching, and mentoring. That’s when I’m truly in my state of flow! That is the stuff that I look forward to everyday and is by far the most rewarding part of it for me.
2020 was a challenging year. Was there anything specific that you learned last year or are doing differently now due to COVID-19?
2020 was very very interesting. For me, I experienced a lot of personal growth last year. One of the things that I learned while working from home, was that we need to be very intentional about communication. Previously, I could pop by someone’s desk in the office or catch them in the micro-kitchen and notice if they seemed off, but that is very hard to do virtually when you don’t have those small interactions. Now, I have changed the agendas of my one-on-one meetings with team members to start with asking how they are doing, and then actually pausing and waiting for a response. In this virtual first world, it is very important that we create and hold space for those conversations.
What’s your one secret power/habit that makes you successful?
Definitely to-do lists! Nothing beats old school, pencil and paper lists and getting to cross off items as I accomplish them. They don't only keep me on task amidst my average day (which is largely chaotic) but it is also deeply satisfying and gives me the sense that I am moving the needle, no matter how big or small.
What advice would you give to Black+ people pursuing a career in technology?
A mentor of mine said to me when I was just starting out as a freshman in university: "know everything you can about your chosen field and never stop learning or challenging yourself, that is how you can stand out as an expert". This advice has really stayed with me my entire life and continues to be something I live by.
When it comes to the tech industry, it’s hard to say there is a point you get to where you stop learning since it’s constantly evolving. I think it’s actually impossible! If you are considering a career in tech, it’s important to love it — it can’t feel like work. If it constantly feels like a chore then you are going to struggle. If you are genuinely fascinated by the field and what you do then your work will feel energizing. This is how you stay cutting edge and how you maintain your knowledge base and expertise.
Was there something specific that pushed you toward your career in tech? A class in college, or a mentor, or maybe an internship?
For me, it was a book I read on robotics when I was 11. I loved that I could write code and make physical items do things — it was tangible. It opened me up to a whole new world of possibilities I hadn’t considered, I thought I was going to pursue robotics, but I later went on to study Computer Science at Benson Idahosa University and have been in the tech industry in multiple roles since then. After my first degree I went on to get an MBA from Robert Gordon University in Scotland and more recently a Data Science certificate from Sheridan College here in Toronto.
What inspires you in your career?
Very few people can say they work in a job that has the potential to change the world. Working in tech, opens up the possibilities to this. What we do in the tech industry can inspire, set standards, challenge the status quo and level the playing field. Everyday we work to solve very difficult problems and I am honoured to be along for the ride and to be a part of the amazing team at Google Cloud.
How do you hope to inspire the next generation of Black+ boys and girls as they start to explore their interests?
There is a real value to representation. Having heroes, mentors, and role models who look like us is incredibly powerful. Because of this, I’m intentional with the steps I take and decisions I make and want to inspire the next generation to know they can accomplish these things too, regardless of any barriers. With this also comes a great burden for me to do what I do very well. It’s a burden and a great responsibility, not an easy one to carry, but one I choose to carry with pride.
The past year has shown how resilient we are — how are you continuing to rise?
By constantly prioritizing and re-prioritizing. And I mean both personally and professionally. COVID-19 acted as an accelerator for changes that had been rumbling under the surface for years.
Personally, I’m constantly re-evaluating how I prioritize and manage my energy and time for myself and those that I love. Our wellbeing and rest is so important, and it is something that we need to focus more on. You are not a brain on a stick — without your body being healthy, your brain cannot function!
From a professional perspective, suddenly we saw industries re-evaluate how they were doing things and the importance of technology in these transformations. The world is constantly evolving — we need to continuously be making sure that we are getting the skills and knowledge to continue to stay relevant.