Caroline Rainsford

Country Director, Google NZ

Becoming Country Director for Google NZ would, for most people, sound like a dream job. The chance to work for one of the most well-known brands on the planet with all the opportunities that come with such a role is an enticing proposition.

For Caroline Rainsford it’s not surprising that she feels like she won Lotto after being appointed to the role in 2017.

“The irony is that 20 years ago I never imagined I would be in this role; but then 20 years ago Google didn’t exist!”

“Every day I get to see the economic benefits of what technology can do from small businesses benefiting from products such as Google Maps through to the success of our Google Education platform in schools. However, I do find I end up fielding plenty of questions at dinner parties. It’s one of those roles where you are always on.”

For Caroline it’s a journey that began at a young age with an upbringing that taught her not to limit her horizons.

“I was fortunate to grow up with two incredible parents who instilled in me the values I hold strongly today. They both worked hard and gave me the confidence that I could do anything. Realising the impact they had on me has heightened my view of the family unit’s importance so much more. Parents easily have the biggest impact on their children.”

Undertaking a conjoint BA/BCom degree and being introduced to a wide range of subjects from psychology to accounting and finance, Caroline says it was marketing that quickly emerged as a particular favourite.

“My psychology studies have been very useful for people leadership and navigating organisations but ultimately I found my passion for marketing and management, hence my honours degree in Marketing and incomplete Bachelor of Arts degree.

I also have to acknowledge my lecturers who inspired me to always be ahead of the curve in terms of market developments. It has proven to be very valuable advice.”

In a career that has spanned working for the global multinational Philips Royal Electronics, roles based in the Middle East and Africa and time at Latitude NZ (previously GE Capital) Caroline says her latest position will allow her to set a long-term vision for how New Zealand businesses can grow and transform in the digital age.

“I feel a huge sense of responsibility to New Zealand in this role. It worries me that the tide is rising when it comes to digital skills and we have to be adjusting to this constantly. Google being in New Zealand and investing here is a huge plus and I hope that during my time in the role I can leave some sort of footprint behind.”

But in a world that moves so quickly, being at the leading edge of technological innovation can make it challenging to lead effectively. “I have learnt that I am at my best when I’m uncomfortably excited and I lead more effectively when I don’t know all the answers. I feel more motivated by the tough challenges, even if I fail, and that our ability to learn new things never stops.”

It’s good advice for those aspiring to pursue technology careers. Being comfortable being uncomfortable might be a good way to think about a world that is becoming ever more challenging.