Office Hours: I'm a Google Senior Manager for Government Affairs and Public Policy. I'm Rebecca Prozan.Featured

Hi Everyone!I’m a Senior Manager for Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google. I serve as a liaison between Google and local government entities and trade organizations in California. My goal is to advance innovation, remove roadblocks to Google’s physical and virtual growth and identify ways in which Google and our communities can successfully grow together. As the key architect of Google’s housing commitment, I spend a lot of time working on housing issues in the Bay.Before joining Google, I worked in public service as an Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco and prosecuted hundreds of criminal cases. I also directed Community Relations for the District Attorney’s Office. Before that I was a Special Assistant to Mayor Willie Brown and managed Senator Kamala Harris’ first campaign for District Attorney.I have an undergrad degree in Politics from UC Santa Cruz and a JD from Golden Gate Law School.Ask me anything about transitioning from public service to working at a tech company, what it’s like working on public policy in tech, or anything else!
Thanks so much for joining us, Rebecca!Elphas – ask Rebecca your questions before this Thursday. She may not have time to answer them all, so emoji upvote the ones you'd most like her to reply to. Thanks!
Rebecca, thank you so much for offering your time to share your knowledge and journey! I’m a former diplomat based in DC trying to break into tech so I was really excited to see this! A few questions:• How did you communicate your public sector skills (resume, interviews, networking) to a private sector audience to showcase your value-add? I often find that the lingo and buzzwords between both worlds are very different making it harder to showcase my skill sets. • Given the political climate and public attitudes toward large tech companies, how receptive do you find policymakers and representatives from governmental entities?• What can big tech learn from government to improve their operations and vice versa? • What does your average day look like?
Hi KashiaIt took me 18 months to transfer to the private sector.I found a role at the District Attorney's office where I could work directly with tech companies to address youth bullying and mentoring/special projects, and was able to network from there. Every interview I had posed questions I could not answer, and then I had to rethink how I approached different issues and add value to the tech sector and I also deep dove into lots of government/tech intersections to better verse myself into the new language. Being a former diplomat is great, but what skills could you bring to a tech policy position that differentiates you from others? Why are you the one? All of the interviews catapult me to the next level....In terms of political climate, it's certainly changed a lot in the past couple of weeks, but it also depends on which entity I'm speaking to, what issue we are addressing, and how would a partnership or a policy issue assist in addressing a tension point or a need. Generally I continue to find policymakers very interested in doing work with the tech sector, and the current situation amplifies it.Each sector can learn from the other - we can both do better!I do not have an average day. That's the beauty of the job!
This is such a helpful timeline and journey to share in terms of setting expectations! Thank you!
Hi Rebecca, Thanks for joining us! My question is tied to social impact in the tech world vs. public service. What was your thought process in making the transition to Google? Did you experience any cognitive dissonance initially and if so, how did you navigate through it?
HiI hit a slump at the division I was working in and knew it wasn't going to improve, so put out a large blanket of resumes to government agencies, non profit and private sectors. The original tension between tech and San Francisco had been bubbling for a bit so I knew I could offer value to a private company. And when I had the interview and met the team at Google, I knew it was the right fit for me. If you mean by cognitive dissonance do I ever have conflicts about my job, of course I do, I also had them as a prosecutor and when working for elected officials. My rule is I just want to have say in the decisions that are made. And I also know that can never happen in every situation but do try to add perspective when things become challenging.
Thank You!
Hi Rebecca, Thanks for sharing your story and your career trajectory! I am a UC Berkeley Master of Public Policy graduate with interests in tech policy but it has been difficult breaking into space due to "inadequate tech experience" or not having a tech background. What advice do you have for transitioning into this space or getting your first tech policy role without a strong tech background?Also I would love to connect with you and possibly have a call to chat sometime!
Hi - it's pretty rare to hire someone right out of grad school without exceptional substantive knowledge of a tech policy issue. I'd suggest working at a third party trade association, beef up your skills, and then keep applying. Best of luck to you!
Thank you!
Hi Rebecca,Thank you so much for being willing to share you experience and knowledge with us. I am a researcher and strategist currently working in the public sector. There are several jobs at tech companies that I have been interested in the past but I am not sure how to make the switch. What are the social research/policy priorities at tech companies right now? What skillsets are most important for employees working in the public policy space at tech companies? Finally, what do you think helped you most when you were breaking into tech?
I think it depends on which company you're looking at - we are definitely not monolithic - some of us focus on food delivery, others on transportation, health issues, or social media. There are definite similarities and threads - content regulation, privacy/data - and I'm not sure what your specialty is.Tough for me to answer the social research/policy priorities given the rapid change that is occurring. Health and the economy I suspect will be on the front burner but others will continue at the forefront - data issues, content regulation and the like. Anyone who has institutional knowledge, meaning you're a researcher in health or in content regulation would be good but those do change. What helped me most was right time, right place, right team. It will work out!
Thank you!
Hi Rebecca! This is a role I’ve always been interested in, but I am unsure what the day to day actually looks like. What would you say is your top priority, on any given day? What does success look like in your role?
I don't have a typical day!Top priority can change given my role depends on policy makers, internal stakeholders, and other pressing issues.
Hi Rebecca,Thank you for stopping by! In awe of your accomplishments!I work as a policy advisor for the U.K. government. I’ve stumbled across a number of Policy roles at Tech companies on LinkedIn which seem quite interesting.1. Would love to know what prompted the move and whether you think there’s an advantage starting off in government then transitioning to big tech? 2. What would you say is most rewarding working on policy at Google?Thank you :)
Hi, I hit a slump and needed to get out from where I was. Without knowing your narrative or your goals, also tough to me to opine on the advantage question - honestly could go either way.At Google, I have tremendous opportunity to allow the community to see value in having Google in their hometown. That takes lots of various forms to helping with schools, small businesses, and being a good neighbor. And be in the midst of some of the most fascinating policy issues of our time.
Hello Rebecca,I hope you're doing well.Thanks for doing the Office Hours!2 Questions1 What are tips for managing imposter syndrome?2 What is your go to motivational song?Thank you.Warm Regards,Ekua
On imposter syndrome, I always remind myself that everyone has it whether they acknowledge it or not.OMG motivational song - how about this for a quote instead - What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail!
Hi Rebecca, thank you for sharing your expertise with us! I’m currently working on a marketing team communicating our nonprofit’s government affairs work. I have wondered how to transition into tech to help shape the public policies it adapts.
Appreciate the question!I've found incredible interest and willingness to address public policy issues from the tech sector, and it's quite similar to the public sector. Ideas are pitched, decisions are made to pursue or not, and there is a deep desire to focus on the user as our constituent. We also have to work with ideas from the public sector towards us and think through how to address those. It's not boring, for sure!
Great to have you Rebecca!
Thank you!
Hey Rebecca, very cool to hear about your work. I'm currently pursuing an MBA at Haas (c/o '21) and my background prior to grad school has been in policy and advocacy (mostly in the education space at the state and local levels). I'm interested in Govt Affairs roles in tech companies and am curious about two things: 1. What is your view of how an MBA degree might translate into the type of work you do at Google? 2. Any recs on books, articles, thought-leaders, etc. on policy in the tech space?
Policy is mostly made of former lawyers like myself and MPP degrees. However, there are certainly roles at Google that would best be filled with an MBA. I'm on the State and Local Team for Google, which wouldn't be the best MBA fit but I do think there are subject matter areas depending on your business area of interest that you should take a look at such as economic impact. Good luck!
Hi Rebecca? Welcome and thanks for making yourself available to us. 2 questions1. Amy Abernathy at the FDA has expressed interest in regulating Health Tech platforms. As a SaaS platform, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around what this would look like. Would each SaaS platform or app have to get approval from the FDA? Is this someth8ng to plan around or is this one of those unknown unknowns and you just do what you were planning to do and if the FDA gets involved you sort it out then.2. I see that you work on housing issues - first of all, TY for this service. I am a HCW waiting to get called in and in the meantime, I’ve been offering 30 minute Zoom play dates with Rosie, a baby goat and her farm friends. It is basically 30 minutes of grandparent time so caregivers can have a short break. I want to increase the diversity of my “audience.” Basically, I live on an old farm, we have lots of animals and I spend 30 minutes on Zoom with kids bottle feeding Rosie and wandering around collecting eggs, seeing chickens, guineas, peacocks, turkeys, investigation birds nest and then end with a little social modeling - singing as a group Happy BD to Rosie x 2 while I wash my hands. I would like get lower SES kids involved. So far, the kids are from a Elpha and faculty/staff members from Duke and UNC. Any suggestions/contacts?
Hi, my speciality is in the State and Local sector, so can't opine on FDA/SaaS issues unfortunately.And thanks for the kudos on the housing work!
Thank you so much for joining and sharing. I'm a former politico who pivoted into tech as a founder, now operator and advisor. I'd love a role like yours, and am pursuing some options... If you're open to it, I'd love to connect with you on LinkedIn to learn more and share affinities as it makes sense. Thanks again for all you do!