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Forty under 40 Award winner profile: Anna Baird

Head of culture and innovation, customer experience for Google Cloud, Google

BIV is proud to recognize Anna Baird, head of culture and innovation, customer experience, for Google Cloud, and 39 exceptional business leaders with 2022 Forty under 40 Awards.

Each recipient is featured in BIV's annual Forty under 40 Magazine, and will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 22. Profiles of each award recipient – originally published in the magazine – will be available at in the days ahead.

Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?

My family is the driver of my work ethic. My mom worked in early childhood education helping to normalize neurodiversity. My dad worked in inter-government communications with First Nations and Aboriginal communities. From my early years, my parents ruthlessly prioritized, harmonizing family dinners and life events with work demands.

What drives you?

I bring real-world awareness to my two children through leading by example. We are sadly not all born equal into life, so how can we help close gaps to inequity? I will provide business executives a view of how cloud technology will help them drive a more inclusive working world.

A favourite book you would recommend?

Measure What Matters by John Doerr and The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci.

Now that you are (or are close to) entering your 40s, what goals have you set for yourself?

Be a chief culture and people officer. Sit on the board for Canuck Place because it is one of my favourite volunteer experiences to date. Get one particular startup past a Series A.

What was your childhood career dream?

I thought I might be a lawyer (there are many in my family) or an actress (I have a flair for the dramatics). Both have some common links around public speaking, a desire for knowledge through experience, the art of influence, reasoning and advocating.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

To be open about failure when I have had to make a hard career decision. I had to leave a manager who was creating a toxic environment for my team despite my own success as a leader. No one really likes to admit failure in a circumstance like that.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Everyone has opinions and you’ll never please everyone. At Google, we say, “Data not opinions” and that has changed my decision making. If you can look at your blind spots and find ways to be transparent about those areas of development, good people will help you learn and achieve.

What is your best habit?

Sending thank-you cards/emails whenever someone or people have stepped in or up to help me.

Best piece of advice ever received?

Not everyone believes in human-centric leadership and to that end, being nimble, agile and strong in advocating for yourself is important. Only you can truly make your own goals and objectives a reality. Keep pushing and find new ways to get where you want.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?

The best leaders celebrate and recognize. No one ever says, “That person thanked me too much.” Recognition and reciprocity are key to raise as you rise.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

Being invited to speak at a conference where my old mentor was also speaking.

Read the profiles of all 40 award recipients in BIV's annual Forty under 40 Magazine. Register to recognize this year's winner at the Forty under 40 Awards gala on Feb. 22.