Susan Wojcicki was born on 5 July 1968 in Palo Alto in California in the United States. Her father – Stanley Wojcicki (Stanisław Wojcicki), born in Warsaw in 1937, is a retired professor of physics at Stanford University, and her mother – Esther Wojcicki from the Hochman family is a journalist and a teacher. Her grandfather – Franciszek Wójcicki was a lawyer and an MP for the Seym. Before the war he belonged to the Union of Village Youth ‘Wici’, and during the war occupation he was a clerk of the London government. After the war he belonged to the Polish People’s Party of Stanisław MIkołajczyk. Her grandmother – Janina Wójcicka was a historian at the Jagiellonian University, and soon after the war she gained the PhD degree which was uncommon at that time.

Decision: emigration

Living in this kind of their past, the Wójcicki family was not able to feel safe in communist Poland. There appeared a decision about going abroad. In 1949 Janina Wójcicka with her two sons got on a Swedish trade ship S.S. Viking which could only take three people on deck. Being hidden in the ship’s hold, they got to Stockholm and then to the United States. Franciszek had to stay in Poland and spend the rest of life there. Janina worked in the Congress Library in the USA.

Thorough education

Susan Wojcicki attended Gunn High School in Palo Alto in California and wrote for the school’s magazine. In the years 1986 – 90 she studied history and literature at Harvard University and at the Californian University in Santa Cruz in 1993 she gained the MA degree in economics. In 1998 she gained the prestigious title MBA (Master of Business Administration) at the Californian University in Los Angeles. Susan, as she emphasized it, was brought up in the university campus. Since her childhood she has been surrounded by scientists, people who aimed at doing something important for the world. Fame and money did not play the most important role. Her interest was the most important. Wojcicki says that it was something which formed her. Thanks to it she can connect has fascinating work with her chores at home. She has two sisters: Janet Wojcicki who is a doctor anthropologist and has PhD in epidemiology, and Anne Wojcicki who is the founder and the chairperson of 23andMe.

She has been to Poland three times. The first time, as a child in 1981, and the last time – on 28 March 2017 at the Congress of Innovators in Warsaw. At that time she met with the president of Poland Andrzej Duda who gave her, as the Ambassador of Polishness, a white-red flag. She also renewed her Polish passport.

A mother of Google

Susan worked for the Intel company, when in 1998 she rented her garage to two young IT engineers – Siergiej Brin and Larry Page for the headquarter of the company Google founded by them. After half a year they moved to a new headquarter and persuaded Susan to join them. She decided for it in 1999. at that time she was in the 4th month of pregnancy. Today she emphasizes that it was one of the best decisions in her life. She was employed as the 16th employee and a director of the Google marketing department. A year later she became a vice-chairperson of the enterprise for advertisement and trade. She was an initiator and was responsible for creating the first ‘doodles’ (changing logo of the Google search engine on the occasion of anniversaries, holidays and birthdays of famous people), as well as she introduced various products, among the others, Google Images, Google Books, Google Video. It was just Susan who came up with her idea of enabling free placing the search engine on all kinds of websites. The idea, initially accepted at universities, got popular very quickly. However, the most important projects, which she managed, are the advertisement service AdSense and the advertisement system AdWords. Susan has never been a ‘face’ of the company. For a long time she had remained unnoticed, not giving any interviews but it was just her who was responsible for products in 2012, being 87 percent of the company’s income. She is called ‘a mother of Google’. To a large extent, Susan was also responsible for creating Google policy in the area of employment conditions and corporation culture. She was an initiator of a nursery next to the company and contributed to introducing 18-week maternity leave. When Google prolonged the time of this maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks, the number of mothers rejecting their work decreased by 50 percent, and the company gained a lot on reducing the costly rotation in employment. Thanks to it experienced employees remained in the company.

Family life

On 23 August 1998 in Belmont in California Susan Wojcicki got married to Dennis. They have five children. Every day she tries to be at home to have supper with her family at 6 p.m., so as to spend the rest of her day with her family which is the most important for her. Therefore she tells her colleagues at work not to contact her between 6 and 9 p.m. She wants her children to be fluent in using a computer and know how to program. She does sport 3-4 times a week to keep fit. She founded a family book club, that is, she with her husband and older children read the same books and then they discuss them, sharing their perceptions, impressions, feelings which they experienced while reading. Susan says with a laughter that it is a bit embarrassing but her children read faster but it is motivating. ‘When my children are sleeping, I check my emails but I want to keep a balance between my family and professional life – she said in an interview for NBC. – I do not consider myself to be a perfect mother but at work it seems to me that I am not perfect because of my time limits – she says. – But doing both things in life makes me to be a better mother and also gives me an important reference point at work’. Briefly speaking – according to Susan, neither family nor work do not lose anything in this connection, but they are gaining a lot. She gave birth to her fifth child in December 2014 and, as usually, she made a break in her career, going on maternity leave.

A chairperson of YouTube

The purchase of YouTube was her idea. Since 2014 she has been its chairperson. At present during one minute over 4 thousand hours of films are uploaded on YouTube by Internet users. This is a challenge and great responsibility for Susan and her team. What is particularly important is the control of materials uploaded on the platform of materials, so there is something called guidelines for the YouTube users. Thanks to it, it is possible to control socially unwanted materials in uploaded films. If someone promotes hostile, violence, nudity, that is, unacceptable by norms, is removed. How to verify it? On the platform there is a system in which people can report on all kinds of improper materials. Then they are verified by analytists and if the films violate norms – they are removed. There are a lot of difficult issues like the issue of terrorism, about which there are different opinions whether such materials should be emitted or not. It is necessary to face up with it practically every day, but Susan is not terrified by it. In 2011 she was on the 16th place, and in 2016 – on the 8th, and in 2017 – already on the 6th place in the list of 100 most influential women of the ‘Forbes’ magazine.

A propagator of maternity leave

Susan supports other women and encourages them to have children: ‘This is a big change in life but this craziest time is relatively short and one can go through it’. And when the most difficult times has passed, children can help. When she became the chairperson of YouTube, she realized that knowledge and opinion of children are irreplaceable. Because does anybody of chairmen on YouTube spend so much times as children? She knows that she could afford the luxury of unpaid maternity leave but most American women do not have such a possibility (the USA is the only developed country and one of few countries in the world in which paid maternity leaves are not guaranteed by the state). When Susan was pregnant the fifth time, she officially spoke about this issue. In ‘The Wall Street Journal’ she published an article ‘Maternity leave is good for business’. Nobody was able to accuse her of not knowing about what she is speaking. Wojcicki emphasizes that ¼ American mothers return to work within 10 days after birth delivery which is not beneficial for them and their children, and it results in milliard of cost – like hospitalization of children and providing medical treatment for mothers in depression. Nobody needs to be persuaded to believe what benefits come from maternity leave for mothers and their children. Women on maternity leave have time to build their relations with their children, and return to work when they are ready to. They are calmer and more self-confident. Employed mothers understand other mothers better, that is, a group of consumers having lots of purchasing power. Susan thinks that maternity leave is not so much from the perspective of values, but an employee for a company.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 21/2018 (27 V 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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