Grady Burnett heads Online Sales and Operations for the Google office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is responsible for hiring, customer service, account management and sales efforts supporting the Google AdWords advertising program. Prior to building this office, Grady managed the national agency team at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, which oversees Google’s relationships with advertising agencies, search engine marketing consultancies and resellers. For five years prior to that, Grady worked at DoubleClick, Inc., where he became Vice President of Agency Sales. He's a graduate of the University of Michigan and has an MBA from the Harvard School of Business.
Google AdWords in Ann Arbor: The Unexpected
When I took the job of establishing a Google AdWords office in Ann Arbor, I had preconceived notions about the challenges that lie ahead, but nothing prepared me for the experience I’ve enjoyed the past year and a half. Sure, it’s been a lot of hard work to get the AdWords Ann Arbor office up and running, but that hard work has been matched and exceeded by everyday successes and surprises.
Google chose Ann Arbor, in part, because of the talent we expected to find throughout the region. As expected, the majority of our candidates, and employees, have come from Michigan, Ohio and other nearby states.
What has been a welcome surprise is the number of candidates seeking a job at Google as a way to move back to Michigan, from all over the United States, and even Europe.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and the innovative culture of Google was one of the key areas that attracted me to the company. I relished the opportunity to set up our operations in Ann Arbor from scratch. Our entrepreneurial endeavors with Google Ann Arbor differed from that of my father due primarily to the deep expertise of our facilities and IT teams. The logistics of finding an office, preparing the space with furniture, establishing food service, setting up networking, computers, phones, etc were handled in expert fashion by these teams. As a result my AdWords team was able to focus all our energy on hiring, training, helping our AdWords customers around the country, and integrating with our supportive new community in Ann Arbor and throughout the state of Michigan.
The facilities team worked hard to find a space that would accommodate our growth plans for a few years as well as Google’s business needs, like training and, of course, food services. They were able to see a Google office in a space that was previously home to a bank and decidedly not in line with our colorful, collaborative workspaces – a testament to their expertise in facilities management and their ability to work with outside design and construction teams to make their vision a reality.
I expected that we would be challenged by business owners seeking ways to use AdWords, Google’s online advertising product, as a way to gain visibility online. Google established an office here in Ann Arbor to help customers around the country better harness the power of AdWords and our team was charged with delivering on that proposition.
I have been delighted by the number of business owners who take the time to tell me how AdWords has impacted their business in powerful, meaningful ways. Zingermans, an Ann Arbor institution, has been able to use AdWords to grow their online catalogue business and deliver their unique and delicious specialties to foodies around the country. AmishTables.com has been able to use AdWords to support significant business growth. In fact, in combination with other marketing efforts, AmishTables.com has seen its sales increase from $60,000 to more than $320,000 over the past two years. These two local businesses are reaching customers all around the country, thanks in part to the visibility they’ve gained online via AdWords.
The more I’m able to reach out to different groups, the more I see the potential for AdWords and its sister product, AdSense, which monetizes content for Web site and blog publishers, to support the growth of Michigan businesses.
Google deliberately hires people who are self-motivated and highly talented, so I expected that our team here in Ann Arbor would be an impressive lot. What I didn’t expect was their enthusiasm for grassroots organizing around community outreach and their commitment to helping non-profits and other entities throughout the region.
Of their own volition, teams of Googlers reached out to Community High School to offer an AdWords class as part of its Community Resources program. These Googlers worked with Community High to develop the class and then gave their time to organize fellow Googlers to teach the class itself.
Another group of Googlers worked to organize in-house teams to volunteer for, and donate money to, local non-profits where Googlers were involved – supporting each other’s interests and ultimately providing a great resource to local non-profits. Examples of this collaborative teamwork abound and continue to bubble up organically as our team becomes increasingly cohesive and effective.
My own ideas of what establishing Google Ann Arbor would entail have been accurate to an extent: It’s been an exciting challenge, yet it’s been incredibly rewarding in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I’m excited to see what the future holds as we continue to grow as a business and as part of the community.