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The YouTube custodian

Radha Penekelapati, MEng 00
By Damon van der Linde

Radha Penekelapati, MEng 00 “Instead of focusing on what others are doing wrong, focus on what you can do right to help. It works not just in professional settings but in your personal life, too.”

YouTube is used by 2 billion people and its director of trust and safety helps protect the platform by leading a global operation responsible for all the people who review the site’s content.

With the unprecedented speed and scale of YouTube, Radha Penekelapati has scaled operations exponentially across many countries, developing and exploring new ways to keep the community safe — from incubating policies and tools to driving continuous quality improvements.

Penekelapati says the experience of doing her master’s degree at Concordia helped her become more resourceful. She moved to Montreal from India to study while working as a software developer. Balancing her workload with the demands of school wasn’t easy.

Being away from home in a foreign country, I had to learn many life skills, ranging from mundane stuff like cooking and doing laundry, to getting a part-time job and paying my bills,” Penekelapati says.

Concordia’s contribution to success

“Although I am not using my Mechanical Engineering degree in the traditional sense, my educational background has taught me problem-solving skills and resilience.”

Proudest career moment

“When the startup where I was part of the executive team, RingCentral, went public, I was fortunate to go to the bellringing ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange. I had only seen the trading floor and ringing of the opening bell on TV, so experiencing it was surreal.”

Biggest career challenge

“Navigating the political landscape at work. It didn’t come naturally to me and I resisted it. I believed it conflicted with my personal values. I lost some leadership opportunities because I didn’t know how to neutralize negative politics. I realized after some setbacks that to be an effective leader one has to invest in understanding the informal networks, build one’s circle and be astute in using influence at the right time.”

Best career advice

“Instead of focusing on what others are doing wrong, focus on what you can do right to help. It works not just in professional settings but in your personal life, too.”



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