Ruth Porat: Forging Ahead During a Crisis

Ruth Porat is a corporate executive who has worked her way up to the highest ranks in Silicon Valley. She serves as the chief financial officer of Alphabet, and its subsidiary, Google. Although she has worked at various places, Porat says that the challenges have been similar: tough economic times and government regulations.

However, COVID-19 pandemic has been a different challenge altogether. With the pandemic lie two obstacles, a health crisis, as well as an economic crisis. It has created a wave of uncertainty like ever before. However, Porat has faced uncertain times before, especially during her 28-year tenure at Morgan Staley. When she started her career in banking, it was incredibly difficult fitting in as a woman. However, she took up the challenge and kept learning and growing.

Although she has done much in her career, one of Porat’s highlights was advising the U.S Treasury Department in 2008, when the country was going through a financial crisis. Years later, the U.S economy has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen over 100,000 close businesses shop. While small businesses have been affected the most, Ruth Porat leads Google’s efforts to help them get back on their feet. This could be Porat’s greatest challenge yet.

Although Google is an established corporate, it relies heavily on small businesses. According to Porat, these businesses hold the American economy together. To help, Google CEO announced an $800 million commitment to the onset of the pandemic. The money would go towards helping small businesses, as well as overall crisis relief.

On that note, Google partnered with Opportunity Finance Network in March to launch a $200 million Grow with Google Small Business fund. The fund would help support the short-term recovery of small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Why is Google so enthusiastic about small businesses?” One might ask. Over two decades ago, Google was itself a small business that started in a small garage.

Although Porat started as a banker, she sees her transition to Silicon Valley as a blessing in disguise. Her transition has given her a chance to go back home since she grew up in Palo Alto, California. Porat got her bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations at Stanford and later earned her master’s degree in industrial relations from the London School of Economics. She also got her MBA from Wharton, before starting her career journey at Morgan Stanley in 1987.


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