Jen Fitzpatrick: Putting Google on the Map

September 7 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Mapping Out Your Own Success

One of the things you have to accept early on is that life isn’t going to go as planned. You’ve got to accept the letdowns and move on. You can map out your life, with specific left turns here and right turns there, but you’ll likely end up making U-turns and meeting dead ends along the way. But as they say, it’s not about the destination; it’s all about the journey. Embrace it and define your own success.


I remember when MapQuest was first invented. I was like, “You mean we don’t need to plan our trip using the crinkled old map in the glove compartment?” Sometimes, printing those directions made life easier, but if you made a wrong turn, good luck trying to figure out how to get back on the right path. I don’t miss those days, and I bet you don’t either.

In fact, a recent British study found that 69 percent of women say they prefer using satellite navigation while driving, like the GPS on smartphones or built into modern-day cars.

But navigation systems aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. For instance, one Brussels woman trying to get to the train station 38 miles away ended up in Croatia—900 miles from her home—after her car’s navigation system went on the fritz. That’s one heck of a detour!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Jen Fitzpatrick, Vice President of Google Maps

Thanks to the geniuses who developed accurate electronic mapping assistance, we can now feel confident to explore new territory. Jen Fitzpatrick is one of those wise techie map gurus we can thank. As a 15-year veteran of Google (and one of the company’s first female engineers) she diligently worked her way up to the position of vice president of Google Maps.

When Jen took her first computer-science class in college—almost by accident—she became intrigued. It led her to earn her master’s degree in the subject from Stanford University. Jen was part of the first-ever internship program at Google, or, as she called it then, a “crazy little startup,” and remembers that her dad thought she was taking a huge risk.

Seventeen years later, it looks like Jen made the right choice. Google is now most people’s go-to source for any and all information, and Google Maps is a must for traveling. In fact, 1 billion people worldwide use Google Maps. In addition to providing up-to-date directions from point A to point B, Google Maps also lets users view real-time traffic conditions and detailed street views and satellite images. Users can also search for nearby restaurants, clothing stores and gas stations, click on one and learn more about it.

Jen says she was fortunate that from the very beginning, women were integral members of Google’s rise to dominance. She never felt like the odd lady out; instead, she was part of a cohesive team that was building a unique system that tons of people would use every single day.

Jen initially worked under Marissa Mayer, a high-level executive at Google who is now the CEO of Yahoo! During that time, Jen and Marissa made moves to improve company diversity by insisting that at least one female executive be part of all job-candidate interviews–a move that made a significant impact.

Jen is passionate about bringing the real world and the online world closer together. And she’s certainly on the right track. We can’t wait to see where Jen guides us to next.


Today’s quote comes from Anne Sweeney, the former president of the Disney Channel, who said:

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules and build a life you’re proud to live.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

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