Thank you Google Maps Platform, Hello Nest :)

Rose Yao
6 min readJul 3, 2020


Hello, I am a bit late in writing this post. I think it’s safe to say 2020 has been a year of change, some planned, some not so much. This week I finally have some time to reflect on the year so far.

Two months ago, after my return from maternity leave and at the beginning of shelter in place in SF, I left my job on Google Maps Platform and started a new job as head of product for Nest. I said I would do something that scares me in 2020 and I think this qualifies.

First, thank you Google Maps Platform!

I learned a lot on this team and here are some my favorites lessons from my 3 years on Google Maps Platform. The biggest takeaway is how to make great decisions as a team and how to collaborate across boundaries real or perceived. I am finding that these lessons are more important than ever as we are all stepping out of what was normal and work from home. Building trust, relationships, and making decisions over video conferencing is hard and tiring. So I hope these lessons help everyone a little bit.

Lesson 1: Assume good intentions, always.

This was such a simple but powerful lesson for me. The work we do is challenging and complex and there are often no right answers. We are also generally a passionate and driven bunch. That combination can lead to frustration and resentment. But in Google Maps, our VP — Jen, led by example and really showed us what it means to accept the complexity and truly assume good intent from everyone. Another way of saying this is: What if no one was the hero, victim or villain?

Lesson 2: Empower all perspectives from the beginning.

I remember a debate we had about a month into my job as PM lead for Google Maps Platform. It was something small about the website and my manager pulled me aside to say: “Too often, the Google DNA is focused on what engineering and product can do. To build the best business, it’s important to empower our partners like marketing to do their best work and make the call from the beginning.” That lesson stayed with me as we grew the team and I’ve learned so much from our leaders in marketing, sales, and operations. It’s also reinforced to me that the best product leaders need to have empathy for all aspects of the business from design and engineering to sales, marketing and support.

Lesson 3: Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.

I love how curious and passionate the team was about the customer and their problems. It’s one of the few jobs where I’ve gotten to learn about the inner workings of finance, insurance, real estate, travel, and trucking all in the same year. We learned early on as a team that we have to be careful about falling in love with a solution. I’m proud of the team for holding the line and always asking the question: “What problem are we solving for the customer?” with everything we do.

Lesson 4: Be decisive and focused.

In today’s world, technologists dream big. We are building self driving cars, reinventing established industries like healthcare and real estate. In that environment, leaders who can drive focus and make hard decisions when needed are even more critical. It hasn’t been easy but being part of the decision process on how we incubated new projects to how to wound down or graduated projects has taught me a lot as a leader on how to strike the right balance between optimism, patience, and focus.

Lesson 5: Stand on the shoulders of giants.

For a long time, I focused as a leader on what I could achieve with the team/resources that are directly within my control. That’s probably one of the most important lessons this team has taught me. The most interesting problems often revolve around the intersections of projects/teams. Collaboration and partnership were part of the team’s values from the beginning. We have always stood on the shoulders of at least two giants (Google Cloud and Google Maps itself).

Hello Nest, thank you for the warm welcome :)

Home is where the heart is. It’s a feeling not a place.

In 2019, we moved from a 2 bedroom condo to our forever home. It had rooms I didn’t have names for before like “Sitting room” and “Office” and the all important “Nursery”! Our daughter Ivy joined us at home in October of 2019. So the running joke for my family is that we’ve really been sheltering in place since October. It’s safe to say home has become the most important place in the world to me and my little family. So the question is:

What does a helpful home that takes care of the people in it and the world around it look like?

When we moved, we took the opportunity to install all the smart things: thermostats and smoke alarms, doorbell, locks and cameras. To be honest, there were moments of delight like answering the door remotely and moments of frustration (OMG installing and pairing all the products). As someone who has been a product manager for 15 years now, having the curiosity to ask how can this be better is an occupational hazard. So when the opportunity came up to help with a problem I was already a little obsessed with, I couldn’t resist.

Two months into the job, I am so grateful for the trust and welcome I’ve received from the team, most of whom I’ve never met in person but I am now their manager, their leader, and their partner. I am delighted that I’ve gotten a chance to learn about everything from HVAC systems, to home automation platforms, to how security systems work, to how what impacts audio quality and more in the 2 months I’ve been on the team. I know this is just the tip of the ice berg.

What I hope to learn and accomplish

As I look into the future. It’s comforting to know that all the lessons I learned from leading Google Maps Platform absolutely apply. I am also excited to set some new intentional goals for myself as a leader.

How to scale.

We do a lot at home, we cook, we sleep, we entertain ourselves, we work, and we take care of our families. So it’s not a surprise that to create a helpful home, we build a lot of different products. Each area from energy to entertainment has its own complexities technically and from a business perspective. For me, while it’s tempting to dive into every detail, it simply doesn’t scale. So being successful in this role will mean letting go of the details and really focusing on the larger goal and how our product areas work together.

How to inspire.

To fulfill the mission we set out of building the helpful home, it’s going to take 5–10 years. In the meantime, the world around us is constantly changing and adapting. To do this well, we’ll need to be patient, tenacious, and nimble. The first 2 months in the job has helped me realized that a big part of my job will be to tell the right story to help us all connect the dots and stay optimistic and focused day to day. And not just for the Nest team but for all the partners we work with inside and outside of Google.

How to put it all together.

I’ve been a consumer product PM obsessing over every detail to ship an engaging and delightful product to billions of people. I’ve been a bit a developer/platform PM focusing on building a vibrant ecosystem that developers love. I’ve been an enterprise PM passionate about building a fast growing business that customers love. With Nest, I get to put it all together. This job will require us to sweat the details to build beautiful products people love, to foster an amazing developer ecosystem because we can’t and shouldn’t build it all, and to build a sustainable business in a very competitive space. This is probably the most exciting and terrifying challenge for me :).

So here’s to the next adventure, it starts and ends at home.

Yours, Rose



Rose Yao

I spent the last 16+ years building products mostly at FB and Google. Also a food, travel, and fitness addict. Follow me @dozenrose or on

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