For Women's History Month, we're profiling some of the powerful, dynamic and creative Canadian women at Google.
Nicole Bell is paving the way for women in communications. She holds a global role in communications for YouTube. As a talented leader and expert communicator, she’s aware of the opportunity she has to pay it forward and help propel other women’s success. And that’s just what she’s doing - giving women the tools to break barriers and have difficult conversations.
As she advocates for the next generation of communication practitioners, she’s also showing her daughter that you can define your own success. When I ask her what she wants her daughter to know as she thinks about her future in the workforce, it’s simple: find a career that allows you to be yourself and lean into your strengths, and success will follow.
How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech?
I’m part of YouTube’s global PR team, telling the incredible and inspiring stories of the vast array of people around the world who earn their living making YouTube videos. My goal is to help nurture the creative ecosystem and show people around the world that YouTube is a home for them, no matter their experience or background.
How did you find your career path to Communications?
It was pure luck. Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a lawyer or a judge. I always assumed I’d go to law school, but after graduating (with a degree in English and Political Science), I decided to take some time off before grad school. Naturally, I started to apply for jobs including an office admin role. I remember the HR specialist thought I’d be a better for a corporate communications role, and so I accepted it and never looked back.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Helping people understand that making videos on YouTube isn’t just a hobby, it’s a real career. But it’s also a highlight of my role, because I get to interact with YouTube Creators big and small and get to showcase their success.
You undeniably have one of the coolest jobs! I mean who else can say they browse YouTube as a part of their job? Are there any women on YouTube that inspire you?
Yes, there are so many!
The first Creator is Aysha Harun. I met her when she was in university and was just starting her YouTube channel as a way to express herself creatively. As a black Muslim woman, Aysha didn’t see herself represented in the traditional beauty industry and so she turned to YouTube to change that norm. I’ve loved getting to watch Aysha grow and evolve over the years, but what I admire the most is her ability to simply be herself, and her success followed.
Next up, is the trio of women behind How to Cake It. While everyone might recognize Yolanda Gampp as the face of the channel, Connie Cantardi and Jocelyn Mercer are the two other amazing women behind the brand. These three business women have expanded their company to now include a line of products and cookbooks! They’re also strong women business owners who have grown tremendously and now employ other women.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
There is something so rewarding in seeing anyone from any walk of life find a home for themselves within the YouTube community. Sometimes that takes empowering a group of people or even just one person, to see their careers within this medium. The magical thing about Creators is that they not only inspire us to think differently but they inspire the entire community at large.
What is your secret power that makes you successful?
I try to live by the mantra of being "happy to be here, easy to work with". When people want to work with you, you can make magic happen! Being open, honest, interested, passionate and listening to my colleagues, YouTube creators, members of the broader entertainment industry, I grow each and every day. This helps me stay focused and locked in, year in and year out.
What advice would you give to women pursuing a career in technology?
Not just in technology, but in any industry - ask for more money. Even if you think you're ok with what's being offered, ask for more. As women, we all need to work on flexing the muscle of negotiation! You might not get what you ask for, but we need to stop being afraid to ask.
I love that! Too often women are accepting the initial offer, even when we know our value is more. But this topic can be tough to navigate, what advice do you have for someone breaching this conversation for the first time?
This is an area where women can really help each other. Be a confidant, a source of truth. Previously in my career, I’ve been told not to discuss salaries and I think this does women a disservice. How are you supposed to know if you’re being fairly compensated if you don’t have any insight into the spectrum of compensation? And because of this, I’ve tried to be very open about my pay history to help other women determine fair compensation.
It’s also really important to understand that you need to show why you’re worth what you’re asking for. Do your homework, go into the conversation with facts on how you’ve impacted the business. It’s harder to dispute compensation when you’re showing your direct impact on the business.
Was there something specific that pushed you toward your career in tech?
I’ve been really fortunate to be exposed to a number of industries through my work at various PR agencies including working on Google (before joining internally). What I love the most about working in tech, is that as communicators, we’re tasked with taking things that are often difficult to understand and need to find a way of storytelling to a broader audience, making it digestible.
What inspires you in your career?
The people I work with! Not only the people on my team and in my office, but folks across YouTube and Google. We’re so lucky to get to work with such a diverse group of people from near and far, who have accomplished backgrounds and push me to be better every day.
Having worked with you I can say you inspire a lot of people, myself included! So I want to know, who inspires you?
There are a lot of women (and men) that inspire me, I’m really lucky to have close friends that I really admire and Dr. Laurie Petrou is definitely someone that stands out. She’s a professor at Ryerson University, a novelist and mother to two busy boys. But as crazy busy as her life gets, her ability to stay self-motivated impresses me. I think it’s often easy to use life and being busy as an excuse, but not for Laurie. The woman writes and edits her novels from the bus, the sidelines of a soccer game, anywhere that she can grab a few minutes. Her drive is incredibly inspiring.
Tell us about a project that you're proud of
FarmTube! This is exactly what it sounds like - the community of farming and agriculture channels that has sprung up on YouTube. We have a team at YouTube that follows new trends as they arise, and the rapid popularity of FarmTube has been a major theme over the past year, all over the world.
I love FarmTube because it’s helping to bridge the distance between city and country, allowing people worldwide to understand the work that goes into farming. Some channels focus on providing a slice of life on the farm, others teach how to raise crops and livestock or fix machinery, and some take you on a journey of starting a farm from scratch. One of my favourite farming Creators is Sandi Brock, who is a sheep farmer from Ontario.