A day in the life of Google’s New Zealand country director, a single mother who oversees more than 1,800 employees and flies to Australia once a month

google exec caroline rainsford sits at table in office with laptop
Rainsford said she was offered her job at Google eight months into her year-long maternity leave, and Google encouraged her to take the full year.

  • Caroline Rainsford is Google’s New Zealand country director based in Auckland.
  • She’s also overseeing 1,800 Googlers in Australia to cover the managing director’s year-long maternity leave.
  • As a single mother, Rainsford advocates for working mothers: “You can absolutely be both and make it work.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Caroline Rainsford, 39, is Google’s country director for New Zealand. She oversees about 50 employees in Auckland.

google executive caroline rainsford stands in front of google logo background in professional headshot smiling
Rainsford has worked at Google for nearly four years.

Rainsford, who previously worked at L’Oréal, Philips, and GE, got a recruiting call from Google in 2017. At the time, she was three months into her maternity leave for her second child.

After a five-month interview process, Google offered her the role and asked how long she intended to take for her maternity leave. (In New Zealand, parents are entitled to one year of maternity leave — six months of which are paid.)

She told the recruitment team that she was planning on taking the full year, but for this opportunity she would end it early if necessary.

“And they said, ‘No, we’re happy to wait for you,'” Rainsford said. “And so I started in this company with just the best experience. Being a mother was always first. So in my approach as a leader, I feel like I’m this custodian to make sure that everyone has that experience now if they want to be a working mother.”

On top of her New Zealand duties, Rainsford has been managing more than 1,800 Googlers in Australia for the past several months while their managing director is on a year-long maternity leave.

selfie of smiling blonde woman with office cafe, fruits and vegetables in the background
Rainsford checks out the new café at Google’s Sydney office.

She’s been flying to Sydney once a month ever since Australia and New Zealand opened a travel bubble in April.

“With working more closely on the Australian business, it was important that I got over to Sydney to get valuable face time with some of the team,” she said. 

Here’s a look at Rainsford’s daily routine in Auckland while she oversees both Google New Zealand and Google Australia.

6 a.m: “On a weekday I usually wake up at 6 a.m. naturally thanks to two small children-shaped alarm clocks,” Rainsford said.

blonde child sits at counter at home eating breakfast
Rainsford’s four-year-old son, William, eating breakfast.

Rainsford said she tries to get eight hours of sleep each night so she’s at her best for a full day of parenting and working.

“The kids and I usually have Vegemite toast for breakfast — a classic in any Kiwi household,” she said.

7:45 a.m: Rainsford drops her son William, four, and daughter Olivia, six, off at school three mornings a week. “I love doing this as they tell me all the good stories in the car on the way,” she said.

two blonde children standing close together outside smiling

Rainsford employs a nanny who takes the kids to school the other two days of the week.

As a single mother, Rainsford’s message to young women is that you can “have it all.”

“I think that it’s really about integration.” she said. “… Everybody at Google New Zealand and a lot of Australia know my two children. The nice thing about the last year and a half is it’s made us all way more vulnerable and it’s made us more open to who we actually are as people.”

On the days she doesn’t do school drop-off – or if the traffic isn’t too bad – Rainsford takes a morning walk around the waterfront of Auckland.

selfie of a woman in sunglasses smiling with sea and nature scene behind her

“The eastern bays are stunning and it hasn’t been too bad getting through the past 12 months with this on my doorstep,” she said.

On Friday mornings, Rainsford plays golf.

woman plays golf outside in new zealand
Rainsford playing golf at a course called Millbrook in Queenstown.

“I used to play golf before I had children,” she said. “One of my goals since joining Google has been to sharpen my skills, so every Friday morning I go and play. Sometimes I only have time for 40 mins of chipping but it is amazing mindfulness!”

9:30 a.m: Rainsford starts her work day by answering emails and preparing for the day ahead before her meetings kick off.

selfie of smiling woman sitting at home office

“I’m a huge planner so I always know the most important things I need to get done during the day,” she said. “I also have a sign above my screen in my home office that says, ‘Are you doing what matters?’ and it helps keep me focused on the important stuff.”

Since Googlers were allowed to return to the office in November, Rainsford is working three days a week from home and two days a week at the office.

10:30 a.m: Rainsford heads into the office and has a virtual meeting with Google leaders from the Singapore and US offices.

google exec caroline rainsford sits at table in office with laptop

Rainsford said her number of daily meetings has increased by about 20% since she took over Australia, so she now has an average of eight to 10 meetings per day.

“This has been a really great stretch opportunity for me — something that I encourage everyone to think about in their career and work life,” Rainsford said. “It’s important to feel challenged … it can be where you see the most growth in your abilities.”

11:15 a.m: Rainsford takes 10 minutes to pop over and check on the progress of Google’s new office, which – like the current office – is in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.

interior office space under construction with views of city of auckland in background

“The views are stunning from this vantage point, across Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour,” she said.

The building will be targeting a 5 Star Green Design from the Green Building Council of Australia and will feature a vertical planted green screen with native species and rainwater harvesting, she said.

Rainsford heads back to the current office for a client meeting before lunch.

12 – 12:30 p.m: Rainsford has lunch at the office with some of the Google New Zealand team. “Since we’ve been back in the office, I know the team (and I) have really appreciated this space again,” she said.

three coworkers sit around a table in an office talking

When she’s in the Auckland office, Rainsford schedules fewer meetings so she can spend informal time with her team. During the pandemic, she’s tried to be more open with them as a leader about how she weathers challenging times.

“I think there’s going to be a new breed of leadership,” she said. “We will see more vulnerability coming from leaders.”

The biggest lesson she’s learned during COVID-19 is how important it was to reset expectations for her employees, Rainsford said.

“I have this amazing exec business coach and he said to me, ‘OK, you’re in lockdown now across Australia and New Zealand. How are you thinking about resetting expectations with your team? Because they’re not going to be able to achieve like what they would normally, given this pandemic,'” she said. “And so we spent ages in the teams talking about really leveling expectations.”

After lunch, Rainsford heads to a session of a week-long director training course she’s taking through New Zealand’s Institute of Directors.

group selfie of five people sitting at a table with laptop and documents
Rainsford with other attendees of the Directors course (not Google employees).

“This was a one-off course so I can learn about governance,” she said. “I really want to join a few Australia-New Zealand boards in the coming years to support New Zealand business growth and transformation.”

Google helped cover the cost of the course. 

3 p.m.: She dials into a Women & Google panel held in Sydney, where she was one of six women participating in a Q&A.

five women sit on stage for a panel with two other women participating virtually on screen

“We spoke about the intensity of work in the first few months of 2021 as well as some of our career highs and lows,” Rainsford said.

Then Rainsford heads to watch her daughter Olivia’s after-school activity: rugby.

caroline rainsford poses outside with her six year old daughter

“Since COVID I have learned that it is possible to make time to attend my children’s most important moments,” Rainsford said. “Like when my daughter got player of the day at rugby. She is six and plays in an all-girls team. She is very good at chasing the other team!”

5:45 p.m: Rainsford speaks at a Digital Boost Launch Event at The Mind Lab, an education center in Auckland.

caroline rainsford speaks at podium at event

In New Zealand last month, Google searches for “online learning” spiked more than 600% from the year before, showing a growing appetite to learn new skills, according to Rainsford.

5:30 to 7:30 p.m: Rainsford spends time with and has dinner with her children.

selfie of mom and two children smiling at dinner table
“Olivia has a potato in her mouth,” Rainsford said.

“I have a tradition that once a week we have a family roast and the kids have to sit at the table with me,” she said. “It means we talk about the day. I cherish it.”

Rainsford tries to limit her kids’ screen time throughout the day, but while she’s cooking dinner, she lets them watch YouTube Kids on the tablet. “Some of their favourite local creators are Rainbow Learning and BBC Earth for the volcano content,” she said.

After the kids are asleep, Rainsford gets back on her computer and takes some time to get any “life admin” done.

selfie of smiling woman sitting in front of computer at home office

“That’s birthday presents for friends, or ordering flowers for my Mum to say thank you, or even booking our next New Zealand staycation,” she said. 

Before bed, she spends some time watching Netflix (right now it’s “The Queen’s Gambit”) or reading. “I am currently reading a book called ‘Mental Fitness — Build Your Mind for Strength and Resilience Every Day.’ It’s so relevant given our current environment.” 

Rainsford said that despite her busy schedule, her two young children, and the pandemic, she doesn’t regret taking on the challenge of leading Australia for a year.

“Sometimes doing these things that are out of your comfort zone are really, really good, and you should embrace them,” she said. “But I think a lot of particularly young females would say no to a lot of this. So I’m hoping that Australia will convey that you can take on these additional challenges even at the most unusual time.”

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New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, in lockdown for 3 days after 3 new COVID-19 cases from same family

Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks with media on February 14, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand

  • PM Jacinda Ardern said Auckland will be entering Level 3 of New Zealand’s four-tier coronavirus system.
  • A border will be placed around the city’s 1.7 million residents who will be required to stay home.
  • Reviews of the measures will be held every 24 hours.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, is going into lockdown for three days at midnight tonight after three members of the same family tested positive for COVID-19.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the news at a press conference today and said Auckland would be entering Level 3 restrictions of its four-tier coronavirus alert system.

She said: “Three days should give us enough time to gather further information, undertake large scale testing and establish if there has been wider community transmission.”

A border will be placed around the city’s 1.7 million residents who will be required to stay at home other than for essential shopping and work which cannot be done from home, the BBC reported.

Schools will also be closed apart under Level 3 apart from for the children of essential workers, according to The Guardian.

The rest of the country will enter Level 2 restrictions for the same time period, meaning that social distancing will be enforced. There will be a 100 person limit on mass gatherings, and face masks will be mandatory on public transport, the Independent added.

Reviews of the measures will be held every 24 hours, according to Ardern, who canceled plans to attend Auckland’s Big Gay Out event and instead held an urgent cabinet meeting in Wellington, the nation’s capital, on how to manage the outbreak best, NBC noted.

Read More: This Google leadership exec quit after months spent meditating under lockdown: ‘I could never go back to that lifestyle.’

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the three cases are the first since January 24. Genomic testing is being conducted to see if the family’s infection was linked to highly infectious variants.

Despite just one nationwide lockdown under Level 4 for six weeks in March, this will be Auckland’s third since August when Level 3 restrictions were imposed and removed by the end of the month.

The news comes as New Zealand is due to begin rolling out the Pfizer vaccine on Saturday, with border staff the first in line.

There are currently 47 active COVID-19 cases, with 44 in managed hotel isolation, Axios noted. New Zealand has a population of five million and has reported 2,330 cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic started, according to Johns Hopkins University

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Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand has bought so many COVID-19 vaccines that it will give free doses to neighboring countries

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits a lab at Auckland University on December 17, 2020.

  • New Zealand has secured two additional COVID-19 vaccines from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax. This brings the total up to four vaccine providers.
  • The number of vaccine doses available to New Zealanders now far exceeds the population of five million people.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that New Zealand will offer surplus vaccines to neighboring nations.
  • New Zealand will also offer $65 million in aid to support Pacific countries in getting access to vaccines.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Thursday, Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand had secured two additional COVID-19 vaccines. This means that the country now expects to have so many doses of the vaccine that it will be able to offer it to neighboring nations for free.

The Government signed deals with the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax to bring in an additional 18.3 million doses. Both of these vaccines require two doses, meaning that over nine million people will be able to be vaccinated.

Prior to these agreements, New Zealand had already secured 750,000 courses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 4 million courses from Janssen.

Given that New Zealand’s population stands at just five million people, the country expects to have almost triple the number of vaccines required.

In a press release, Ardern revealed that spare vaccines would go to neighboring countries.

She said: “We now have agreements in place with four providers, covering three different types of vaccine technology and we have secured more than enough doses to cover our entire population plus the Pacific.”

Government officials announced that free doses will be provided to Tokelau, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, according to NPR.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has said that New Zealand is committing $65 million of development assistance money to support Pacific countries to “access safe and effective COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity.”

An additional $10 million is going towards a global commitment to ensuring that lower-income countries get access to vaccines.

New Zealand has been praised for its response to coronavirus.

The country reports only 2,110 cases and 25 deaths.

On Thursday, there were 10 new cases reported. On Wednesday, there were zero.

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