People powered

At the vanguard of employee engagement, Google is known throughout the world for its forward-thinking views on flexible working and innovative, creative office environments. Natalie Bagnall, Head of New Business Sales at Google, shares her views on why this works.

Google the terms ‘great place to work’, ‘best employee satisfaction’ or even ‘cool offices’ and the company which consistently comes out at the top of the list is Google itself.

If a company’s name can be used as a verb, then this goes some way to explain its global reach and relevance. Google is THE internet success story and going hand in hand with its brand image is its forward-thinking approach to its people. At Google’s Mountain View HQ in California, employees zoom down colourful slides to their meetings – held in inflatable chairs over cappuccinos and a healthy lunch, as their dogs wander along airy, bright corridors. The Google approach has inspired a generation of businesses in how to best create a productive working environment.

Natalie Bagnall is Google’s Head of New Business Sales, at the front line of the company’s high value acquisitions. She explains why Google’s people are so well looked after. “Hiring the best and smartest people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures is really important. Once you have hired the best, however, it is key to help them to innovate and engage in a way which motivates and develops them.

“Great talent is fundamental to the success of all parts of a business, so Google invests heavily in its hiring process and its people.”

Bagnall outlines her own role which, among other things, involves working with customers to get impressive returns on investment from using Adwords - the ‘sponsored links’ you see when you conduct a Google search. “Our sales teams pitch to and support new customers in over 30 countries, across three continents and in over 15 languages, providing online consultancy and sales support to medium and large companies looking to market online with Adwords, You Tube, mobile, the display network and other Google products. We acquire and get new customers up-and-running, then manage this relationship on an ongoing basis through our account management channels. It is very satisfying to help companies of all sizes and levels of development to take the jump into online and then enjoy the kind of results they can get by marketing with Adwords.”

Always innovative, Bagnall’s team offers customers an in-depth on-boarding solution, then specialists from Google with a background knowledge in specific categories work with customers to create campaigns and manage them once they are live.

Bagnall herself began as a sales rep, working her way up after four years of face-to-face and telephone selling to a management position. Now leading a sales team of 70, she says: “Every day I make sure I have lunch or breakfast with one of my team to hear what’s going on. It could be pitching at an event, or an idea to innovate on the sales culture, challenges with recession-driven Greece or just enjoying a catch up.

“I also like to encourage new ideas from the most junior person on the team to the most senior. We regularly hold sales summits and feedback sessions to examine what works well and what we could improve. Feedback is a gift!”

Being part of Google means consistently keeping employee needs at the fore, she adds. “It’s about understanding how your business function and the results you bring in contribute to the overall goal of the company. You should treat your staff as you want to be treated yourself, giving them work that suits them, expecting huge things but meeting them half way to support them.”


  1. Know your strengths and play to them – hard work doesn’t go unnoticed
  2. Take feedback, however difficult, on board – and act on it
  3. Don't rush into action – think things through and don’t make hasty decisions
  4. Find someone who impresses you – and learn everything you can from them
  5. Be strategic and think big – but stay close to the coal face

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK