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December 2016

Google CFO Ruth Porat says ‘thank you’ to pioneering Manchester

Categories: Tech for Non-Tech

Ruth Porat, CFO Google and Alphabet

Senior Google executive Ruth Porat paid tribute to Manchester’s pioneering roles in the fields of computer science and nuclear physics while launching a new Google Digital Garage in the city.

Born in Sale, Greater Manchester and briefly educated at the Brooklands Primary School, Porat is now one of the most distinguished business leaders in the world, serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Google and its parent company Alphabet.

As well acknowledging Manchester’s standing as the original digital city – birthplace of 'Baby', the world’s first stored program modern computer – she also commented on the region’s pioneering role in the story of nuclear physics, one that led her own father to settle in Manchester after the Second World War.

Dan Porat completed a masters degree in physics at the University of Manchester before going on to complete a PhD in electrical engineering. The family moved to North America when he was offered a position as a physics research fellow at Harvard University in Massachusetts.

Opening the Google Digital Garage in King Street, Manchester, Ruth said: “Manchester is a really emotional place for my family. The University of Manchester invited my dad here after war. He was a stateless person after the war and he was able, as a holocaust survivor to go to Palestine, where he joined the British army.

“He did his PhD in Manchester. Now he’s a very happy 95-year-old nuclear physicist, living in San Francisco. When I told him I was coming to Manchester he said three things, ‘that’s great ; make sure you remember it’s the birthplace of nuclear physics; and tell everyone you meet in Manchester thank you’.”

The Google Digital Garage will be open seven days a week for a full year, offering free sessions for anyone who wants it.

Porat told guests invited to the launch that there was no better place than Manchester for Google to base its Digital Garage.

She added: “The world’s first modern computer was invented here in Manchester in 1948, so we at Google are especially grateful to you. And today, Manchester is thriving. It’s home to the UK’s School of Computer Science and to many of the fastest growing tech companies in the north. It’s recognised as one of the top places in the region to start and scale a business. And thanks to the forward-looking leadership here, it’s committed to developing digital skills, to create conditions for growth. We hope that Google can continue to play an important part in continuing to accelerate growth through the Digital Garage.”

Porat said that Google had identified a continuing a digital skills gap in the UK which it is keen to close. “We have always believed the internet to be a great enabler, helping people to develop businesses of all sizes and scale.

 “Manchester is known as one of the great places to start and scale a digital business, and Google is excited to be here. We want to help ensure that everyone can share in the opportunities technology brings. That’s why we’re opening the Google Digital Garage in the heart of Manchester’s city centre, offering free digital skills training to all local people and businesses – from entrepreneurs, to students, to retirees.

“We believe there’s an opportunity gap as digital skills become ever more important in the workplace. Recognising this, Google is committed to help 100,000 people in Manchester and across the UK find a job or grow their career with new digital skills during the course of the next three years.”

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham welcomed Porat home to the ‘original digital city’, adding: “This couldn’t come for us at a better time. As mayor, working with the digital and tech sector in the city, and with the universities, businesses big and small, we have declared our ambition to become the UK’s leading digital city, top 5 in Europe.

“We want to be a smart city in every sense of that phrase, not just making the traffic lights run a bit better or the trams run on time, we want to be the smartest of all cities, and for me that means connecting people to technology and then to opportunities, using digital to deal with our homelessness and rough sleeping problem, tackling loneliness and isolation among older people, crucially giving young people that ability to get on in life and making sure they can take advantage of the opportunities out there.

“That’s out plan and it’s why this initiative couldn’t be more in keeping with our approach, about it being ‘people first’. That’s why I want to give credit to Google. So often when we talk about digital, it’s always about the technology itself, and not about the people who might benefit from it.”

The Google Digital Garage at 39-43 King Street will offer free face-to-face coaching for anyone who wants to improve their digital skills. The courses on offer range from ‘How to build your CV an personal brand online’ to ‘An introduction to coding’, and ‘How to create a social media strategy’.

From January, the garage will be supported by a Google double decker bus touring Manchester to provide digital skills training to people who prefer not to visit the city centre Digital Garage.

The Manchester Digital garage is being delivered in partnership with Manchester City Council, the Mayor and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, The Growth Company, Good Things Foundation and Which?

Anyone can sign up for free classes at g.co/manchestergarage

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