Alice Mansergh, Alex Class of 1998, is Director of Customer Solutions at Google and Board Member for Fáilte Ireland, Ireland’s National Tourism Development Authority. Passionate about communications, Alice spent 10 years marketing Google’s services in the UK, bringing products like Google Chrome, Gmail and Maps to market. She recently returned home to Ireland, where she leads a team that helps small and medium sized businesses across the UK & Ireland to adapt, thrive and grow online with Google. This week we spoke to Alice about working in communications, board membership, and matching what you love to do with the skills needed by a job or industry.
How did your time at Alex influence your path?
Teenage years can be turbulent. However, I will always be grateful for the well rounded education I received at Alex. Learning was not based on ‘cramming facts’ and then reproducing them in exams. We were given the space to debate, interrogate and fully understand the topics at hand. I think that helped me find what I enjoyed, and gave me the confidence always to speak up, ask questions and share ideas openly. The courage to question is vital in the workplace - arguably, without questioning how to do things better, there can be no progress or innovation.
You studied English and Irish in university - did your studies influence your career choices?
At the time that I chose English and Irish as subjects of further study, I had no idea where they would lead me. In fact, there were those who questioned whether an Arts degree was useful or simply a route to unemployment! I had some adventures while figuring how to use my interest in communications. I was a tour guide in Rome for a period, taking visitors around the Vatican. I took a year out to try my hand at writing a novel. Then I took a look at graduate hiring programmes, and was intrigued by a start up called Google, which was just then setting up an operation in Ireland...
Do you have the opportunity to use your arts degree in your work?
Absolutely! An arts degree of any sort teaches you two very important things: how to look at a topic from many different angles; how to communicate a logical and compelling point of view. I lean heavily on these skills in work and in leadership.
You are also a Member of the Board of Fáilte Ireland - why did you decide to join?
There were personal and professional reasons why I was so excited to apply when I saw a public job
posting seeking Fáilte Ireland board members. On the personal side, I’ve holidayed in Ireland every year of my life since birth. I even honeymooned on the Wild Atlantic Way, traveling around in a vintage Volkswagen camper van for three weeks! As a marketer, I always thought a dream job would be ‘marketing Ireland’. Tourism, managed sustainably, can bring real economic benefit to our population, with a geographic spread across the country that isn’t possible in all industries. Given most tourists research and decide where to travel online, I thought my digital industry knowledge from working at Google could be of some use. It was a very great honour to be appointed to the Board.
What has your experience in board membership taught you?
Interestingly, I applied to join the Board when I was on maternity leave with my second child. I didn’t think I would be successful, but I decided to give it a shot. We can all be beset by imposter syndrome at times, that negative voice that pulls us back (‘why would anyone want me?’, ‘I’m not the type of person who gets appointed to Boards’ etc). I’m thrilled that I applied, and what I’ve learned is that if you think you have a viewpoint to bring, make the case. It is wonderful to be able to contribute to tourism in Ireland.
How have you pursued your other passions outside of your work at Google?
I have a husband and two sons aged six and two, so there’s always plenty going on outside of work. We cook, we go for walks, we read - simple things! Given my role with Fáilte Ireland, I’m always excited to experience our country as tourists would. I’m afraid to say I drag the family off ‘mystery shopping’ at castles, museums and kids attractions around the country.
What do you want girls interested in communications and marketing to know about your career and experiences? What advice would you give your schoolgirl self?
My advice to my school girl self would be: play to your strengths. Find the activities and topics that you enjoy, that give you energy, and that you’re good at. Next up, find a job, role or industry that might need the very skills you have, and apply yourself to the task at hand. Matching up what you love, with what is needed by others can make for fulfilling work.