Google CFO Ruth Porat's 8 secrets to success

Ruth PoratGoogleGoogle and Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat.

Ruth Porat, the CFO of Google and its parent company Alphabet, is one of the most powerful women in finance.

Previously, Porat spent 28 years at Morgan Stanley, helping guide the company through the 2008 financial crisis while simultaneously developing a government-backed plan that kept Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae from collapsing.

She has also helped guide IPOs and financing rounds of Amazon, eBay, The Blackstone Group, and GE, and is known for her insane work ethic.

How has she navigated her way to the top and stayed there? We’ve rounded up eight success secrets shared by the influential business leader.

The key to keeping investors happy is making them understand why your business thinks the way it does.

Getty / Mike Windle

During the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in 2015, Porat explained how she works with investors to make sure they understand her company's way of thinking.

'I view investors as our partners and stakeholders in the company. They are trying to build financial models. What I try to focus on is helping them understand how we think,' she said.

'What are the building blocks that really drive our behaviour? I have not been a believer of point guidance. It really limits your flexibility to do what you want. It leads to behaviour that is not supportive of long-term shareholder value.'

Hard work for the wrong boss will not get you noticed.


In the 2011 book, 'How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life,' Porat spoke to the importance of working with the right people.

'One of the biggest problems women have is they work really hard and put their heads down and assume hard work gets noticed, and hard work for the wrong boss does not get noticed,' she said. 'Hard work for the wrong boss results in one thing -- that boss looks terrific, and you get stuck.'

Diversity isn't just a socially responsible thing to do; it strengthens your business.

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At the Vanity Fair summit, Porat said she's found that businesses are strengthened when women are brought into senior-level roles.

'Businesses perform better when you have diversity of view in your senior leadership positions,' she said. 'This is not just the right thing to do socially; it's the right thing to do for your business.'

'Work-life balance' is a trap that sets you up for failure.


'I find it so tragic when women think they need to put the other part of their life on hold to a later date so they can have accomplished something professionally,' Porat told Politico in 2014.

During a similar conversation at the Vanity Fair summit, Porat spoke about the importance of 'work-life integration' for both men and women.

'I hate the term 'work-life balance,'' she said. 'I think it's a setup, and it's trap for all of us. I think what you want is a mix in your life that works. It's kind of like a kaleidoscope is really boring if it's two nice even things of glass; you need to get it to mix and change.'

Businesses need to be transparent with their succession planning to avoid biases.


During an event held by the Japan Society in 2014, Porat explained a major roadblock in getting ahead as a woman.

She said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's philosophy that women need to 'lean in' and be more assertive isn't always effective in practice.

'If a woman 'leans in,' but is leaning against a door that is nailed shut, no amount of leaning will bust down the door,' she said.

Porat believes breaking down this barrier requires businesses to take notice and act.

'We must hold our organisations accountable where they control the doors by demanding clarity and transparency around succession planning,' she said.

To get ahead in your career, you need a sponsor to champion you.

Smart investing requires assessing the company's top management.

Craig Barritt/Getty

During an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2014, Porat was asked for her best piece of financial advice, and she talked about listening to the tone being offered by a company's leaders.

'Whenever you are looking to invest, obviously know the asset, but you have to look at the tone from the top,' she said. 'Look at leadership, make sure you understand culturally where they are going, because that's how you avoid being surprised.'

Don't focus on stock price; focus on the long-term goals of your company.


In another remark during the Vanity Fair summit, Porat said that leaders should focus on longevity rather than short-term gains.

'One thing I always told my clients as a banker and certainly always told my CEOs is ignore the stock price and focus on the long run,' she said.

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