Shelley Clifford Brophy: She’s Programmed for Opportunity

March 15 - On The Dot

FIRST THOUGHT: If All Else Fails …

Today, I am reminded of that phrase “If at first you don’t succeed, try again.” It’s been one of those days when nothing works out perfectly. It’s not even big stuff. I’m talking about missing the trash can and having to lean over to pick up the crumpled paper, or discovering the coffee jar is empty, a password has been forgotten or that the meeting was at 2, not 3. Some days just ain’t going to improve, and the best you can do is pick up the trash, grab a terrible gas-station latte, apologize about missing the meeting and try again tomorrow.


If you are in college or have completed a degree, you know just how often you’ve got to invoke that “try again” mantra. One woman who definitely gave it the old college try, despite some serious obstacles, was Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, who professed her vows in 1940 and 25 years later, made history. After studying mathematics and physics (and helping to develop the computer language BASIC, by the way), in 1965, she became the first American woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science. Way to go, Sister!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Shelley Clifford Brophy, Software-engineering Recruiting Manager at Google

Getting into tech takes some major guts. Not only is it still quite the boys’ club, but it also requires a resolute determination to try different approaches again and again in the face of potential failure. If there’s one techie lady who isn’t afraid to venture forth and pull out all the stops in the name of progress, it’s today’s Woman to Watch, Shelley Clifford Brophy, the software-engineering recruiting manager at a little tech company you may have heard of called Google.

Leading a team of talent pros focused on finding the best front-end and mobile developers for Google is a challenging gig, but Shelley has definitely got the expertise to do it. She endured life’s ebbs and flows during her educational quest, but tenaciously excelled, which resulted in her receiving three Ivy League degrees.

Later, after working in an array of college-admissions jobs, Shelley decided somewhat spontaneously to quit and seek out something new that fed her soul. Maybe she’d take up calligraphy or attend culinary school, she thought. Feeling a bit aimless yet determined to find the right fit for her, Shelley applied for a job at Google. Though that position was quickly filled, her resume was impressive enough to land her an invitation to Google headquarters, and a week after her visit, Shelley was offered a position to run Google’s training team. Within about two years’ time, she was bumped up to the position of software-engineering recruiting manager, and now spearheads Google’s mission of attracting and hiring more diverse applicants.

What most strikes me about Shelley is her candor. She’s one of the few corporate leaders out there who admits her career has been all about not knowing how to tackle the opportunities she’s been afforded, but then learning how to not only perform those tasks, but how to excel at them. Taking on new responsibilities can be scary, but Shelley demonstrates that being willing to do so often leads to success—and improves your skill set.

Being comfortable in new territory is a skill Shelley has developed throughout her life and career. And her diverse outlook makes her an even more meaningful asset to Google, where, under Shelley’s guidance, more women and underrepresented ethnic groups are given a fair shot.


We applaud Shelley Clifford Brophy for upping the diversity among Google employees. With that in mind, today’s quote comes from British computer scientist Karen Spärck Jones. She said:

“I think it’s very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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