When Mona Hinamanu ’17 stepped into an interview for her dream job at Google last year, her nerves were undoubtedly high, but something just felt right. After an extensive interview process leading to a job offer, Hinamanu knew her gut feeling was correct — she had found where she was meant to be.
“One of the most amazing things I learned while starting my position at Google was how everything in my life had built to this moment,” Hinamanu said. “For the first time in my life, I owned every experience that I had and spoke to it all in the interview process. I utilized the fact that I had switched majors in college; I spoke to my college leadership training and work history. I could look at every aspect of my life to pull it together to say, ‘This is Mona.’”
Hinamanu serves as an account strategist at Google’s Ann Arbor branch. She focuses on marketing strategies utilizing Google ad accounts for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada. And while Hinamanu might be working with small businesses, she knows her impact is not small.
“Working at Google is such an honor and a privilege,” Hinamanu said. “I get to influence marketing decisions for small businesses and shape their ideas of online marketing. I can come up with ideas and put them into place. It’s so rewarding when a client tells me they were able to hire based on their Google revenue.”
In addition to her specific role, Hinamanu is part of the much larger Google culture.
“The entire Google culture is so vibrant,” Hinamanu said. “No idea is a crazy idea, and I’ve been able to really embrace that because of my background at Olivet. On campus, students are encouraged to be whoever they want to be and to go after big opportunities. Now, I work at a Fortune 50 tech company where I am also encouraged to dabble in many different areas. That idea was really transferable.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt even more proud of the work Google does. It is an entire organization of forward-thinking individuals who want to make the world a better place, and everyone shares that ideal. It has been amazing to experience the impact an organization can have when everyone bands together.”
Through the path that brought Hinamanu to Google, one thing stands out the most: the people that she’s learned from along the way.
“Small liberal arts colleges like Olivet don’t get a lot of shine,” Hinamanu said. “There’s a misconception that you have to go to an Ivy League school to make it into a Fortune 50 company, but I’m changing that stereotype. I am so thankful for the relationships that I’ve built and all of the people that influenced me to this point — and the close-knit environment at Olivet is what helped me meet many of my most important mentors.
“I’m still connected with Traci Corey, Women’s Leadership Institute director and presidential spouse, who offers me sound personal and professional advice, especially in terms of leadership. When I look back, I often think of a history class that I took with Nikki Magie, Ph.D., assistant professor of social science and OC archivist, that totally changed my mind on how the world works. And, I still volunteer with All Hands and Hearts, an organization that Mike Fales ’75, assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies and director of service learning and campus ministries, introduced me to through college-led service trips. A huge aspect I took away from Olivet was to give back wherever you are, whether that be in mentoring others, serving your community or something else. I wouldn’t be where I am at today without those opportunities and relationships.”
As Hinamanu reflects on her strong background and the experiences that shaped her, she is also looking ahead. Her mission is simple — to keep learning, growing, giving back and helping others rise with her.
“I know one of my next big goals is to get a master’s degree in public administration or policy,” Hinamanu said. “My passion lies in nonprofit work and community outreach, and I hope to find a role that allows me to help my community long-term. The great thing about working at large companies is that many have nonprofit affiliations and are dedicated to creating positive social change in the communities they are located in.”