Google Australia 2011: a year for hires

Sitting in your university library thinking you've got what it takes to work at Google? Sit tight; Alan Noble, Google Australia's engineering director is coming to see you.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor

Sitting in your university library thinking you've got what it takes to work at Google? Sit tight; Alan Noble, Google Australia's engineering director is coming to see you.

Alan Noble

Google Australia's director of engineering, Alan Noble(Credit: Google)

Things have been on the up and up for Google Australia in the last 12 months, and if Noble gets his way, 2011 is set to be the biggest year yet — increasing headcount, rolling out new Australian-made products and maybe even a new office for the search giant down under.

According to Noble, this year will see Google Australia grow its stable of engineers by up to 50 per cent on top of its existing headcount, with new hires set to take up posts in product engineering portfolios and general site maintenance activities crucial to keeping the lights on at the world's biggest search engine.

Noble said that the Australian office of Google is set to increase staff numbers working on projects including Chrome, Blogger, network infrastructure improvement and the development of home-grown integration of Google Docs into the Android operating system. A feature that Noble said is the most requested by users of the platform.

"If you add all this up, we're looking to hire 40 to 50 software engineers or thereabouts in Australia," he said.

"We are also hiring other engineers as well. We have a large operations presence in Australia too, like network engineers, system administrators and security guys as well," Noble added.

Noble said that he's passionate about bringing fresh blood into his companies and showing them the ropes, meaning that new graduates from all over Australia and New Zealand are key to Google's growth strategy.

"I'm very bullish on hiring new grads," Noble said.

"If you get the right graduates, they end up being remarkable employees. They tend to be energetic, open to new ideas and processes, and if you get the right type of person, they really want to make a difference and make their mark," he added.

Google is set to commence a recruiting drive in universities across Australia and New Zealand within the next week to get the word out to students and academics that they can be a part of the Google team.

"Over about a two-month period we hit major campuses around Australia and New Zealand. It takes a while and we do a combination of things. We want to get out that recruiting message."

But it takes a certain kind of person to work for Google Australia, Noble said.

The recruiting process at Google is lengthy to say the least. Noble said that it takes a mix of unique skills to join the company.

"Obviously we're looking for really creative, bright software engineers like engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, that sort of thing. Someone who is really passionate about building software and products," he said. However, he added that it takes more than just creativity and smarts.

"We also look for engineers that also have a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. People that really want to go out and change the world, test the limits, and do things that haven't been done before. That's very much at the heart of our culture really: encouraging that sort of entrepreneurial spirit," Noble said.

New year, new home?

Google's Australia is currently based in the heart of Pyrmont, Sydney and has been for years.

Noble said that Google isn't actively looking at a second site for Google Australia at the moment, but it's not something he'd take off the table entirely in the near future.

"We're somewhat opportunistic to be honest," Noble confessed.

"A lot of our growth in the past has been the result of acquisitions."

"If there was some really hot start-up company in Melbourne and we wanted to buy them — and this is purely hypothetical — then we might look at what would it take to do that," he added.

Noble's Google journey

Noble is originally an entrepreneur who joined Google in 2007 as engineering director for Google Australia New Zealand.

A self-confessed sucker for start-up companies, Noble said that the transition from a small team to a large, multinational organisation was at times difficult to adjust to, but he brought his own unique flavour to the role.

"I did come from start-ups and a real attraction for me was to build Google Australia up from what was a very, very small [operation] just four years ago."

"I was given a mandate to create a world-class engineering organisation right here in Australia and that was to me, a bit like a start-up but with all the resources you could ever dream of at most companies.

Noble describes it as having one's cake and eating it too. He added that Google Australia offers that to each of its employees.

"Google provides an amazing channel to take ideas and get those productised and in front of millions of users. That's very exciting to engineers and I believe that's still possible for small teams to run with an idea and see it through to launch," he said.

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