Silicon Valley Insights with Google’s Petra Cross

Get an insider's perspective of one of the tech industry’s most innovative companies when STRV sits down with Google engineer Petra Cross at our next Silicon Valley Insights event in September.

STRV COO Lubo Smid will host an intimate fireside chat on September 22 at the event space in our Prague offices and then again in Brno on September 27 at Impact Hub. As always, beer and networking will follow. Reserve your ticket on Eventbrite today. Seating is limited, and you aren’t going to want to miss this!

banner for silicon valley insights event

We know it’s hard to wait, which is why we recently asked Petra a few warm-up questions about life at Google, gender stereotypes in the tech industry and how much those sky-high San Francisco rents really are. Mind. Blown.

Can you tell us how you landed at Google and what exciting projects you have had a chance to work on over your 11-plus years with the company?

I ended up at Google after I graduated from Santa Clara University followed by a one-year stint at a small Silicon Valley startup where I worked until 2005. Google has been my employer for over 11 years now, and I contributed to a few different projects such as Search, Gmail and Android Pay. I have been mostly working on developing backends, so my experience is mainly around internal infrastructure at Google and building scalable services that are used by many millions of users all over the world.

Eleven years is a long time. How has Google kept your interest over the last decade — is it the projects, the company culture (we’ve all heard about the delicious catering, laundry facilities and the office scooters), or is it simply that it’s, well, Google?

I would say that there are two things that keep me interested — the specific problems I'm solving every day and the people I work with and learn from.

The food is nice, the mother's room (I'm pumping breast milk every day) is also very nice, but the employee benefits are not what keeps people here.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming programmers eager for a chance to work at one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative tech companies?

Get a CS degree from a reputable school, get experience doing tech internships, and keep your LinkedIn profile updated with all this info. Recruiters often come to you without you even trying, but you might need to initially send your resume to few tech companies.

Despite making a lot of progress, the tech community still seems like it has to defend itself against gender stereotypes. What is your perspective on this issue: Does the industry have a problem recruiting/retaining female coders, and if so, what can be done about it?

The entire world has problems with gender stereotypes, and tech industry is no different. We need to keep educating ourselves about these issues and know how to recognize them when we see them. Seeing the problem is the first step to making a change. Just look at "Man who has it all" on Facebook and read some of the posts to understand how strong our preconceived notions are.

People have a lot of preconceived notions about our industry as well and don't even realize how incorrect they are. I am an ambassador for Projekt AJ TY V IT and also try to help Czechitas to move the needle in gender diversity in tech, but the progress is very, very slow.

What is one thing you like most about living in the San Francisco Bay Area? Any insider tips you can share?

I love the sunny California weather and the fact that we live in downtown San Francisco in the SOMA neighborhood, which is extremely walkable. Both my husband, Bradford, and I walk to work, to shops and do all our errands by foot. I often go to a hardware store and bring the tools and material in my daughter's stroller basket.

What we do not like is the fact that SOMA is extremely expensive, a one-bedroom rental apartment would cost you $4,000 to $4,500 per month. Another thing that makes me nervous is the constant possibility of an major earthquake, which is due any day now.

Get your tickets for Prague here!

Get your tickets for Brno here!