While YouTube’s growth excites her, it’s not what drives Danielle Tiedt to come to work each day. Her true motivation lies in the positive impact she knows YouTube can make—which begins with the company’s mission to “give everyone a voice and show them the world.”
“I came to YouTube for the mission,” Danielle says. “I really believed in YouTube’s potential to make the world a better place and I still do. The challenge, though, is how to give everyone a voice and do that in a safe and responsible way.”
That challenge has only grown more important—and complicated—over the years as the online community has exploded. Unlike a decade ago when Danielle first started as chief marketing officer at YouTube, her work no longer serves primarily amateur creators but millions of creative entrepreneurs who are using YouTube to build their businesses. Her decisions can impact their bottom lines, as well as the greater economy. But Danielle takes the pressure in stride.
“I like the psychology of trying to figure out what matters to people and making things that are important to them,” Danielle says. “And then helping them understand them in a way that maximizes their potential.”
Danielle didn’t set out to lead one of the world’s biggest brands. It wasn’t the prospect of working in the fast-growing tech sphere that put her on the path to becoming YouTube’s chief marketing officer; it was free soda and a soccer field.
While on a family trip in high school, Danielle had the opportunity to accompany her aunt to work at Microsoft in Seattle. There, the self-described “farm kid from Iowa” experienced a company and culture she never knew existed—complete with enticing employee perks.
“For me, that was really life changing. I was like, ‘Wow, I definitely need to work there,’” Danielle says. “That’s why I care so much about job shadowing. I believe a lot in the importance of seeing yourself do something you otherwise might not have normally done.”
Danielle studied marketing at the Wisconsin School of Business and, shortly after graduation, she scored her dream internship at Microsoft. Turns out, that internship wouldn’t just allow her to enjoy free soda and play soccer at work; it would turn into a 15-year product management and marketing career with the company and give her the chance to witness the transformation of an industry—and world—firsthand.
“I really lived through the internet revolution and the mobile revolution,” Danielle says. “Microsoft was like my second college. I got to tackle so many hard challenges and really see what it took to transform a company to meet the expectations of what consumers wanted at the time.”
That experience prepared her well for her next career step in 2012: chief marketing officer at YouTube. In this role, she has continued to work along the cutting edge, growing the company from “a platform for dogs on skateboards” to an economic powerhouse and one of the world’s most recognizable brands. Along the way, she introduced new services like YouTube Shorts, a kid-friendly YouTube app called YouTube Kids, and multiple premium subscription services.
Looking ahead, Danielle strives for the continued evolution of YouTube. Specifically, she envisions a platform that’s truly a source for good: a hub for reliable information on some of the world’s most challenging issues from health literacy to climate change.
“I think the next 10 years are really about how we ensure that YouTube has all the information that people need to make positive change in the world,” she says. “I think that work is never done, especially as the world gets bigger and more complex.”