Megan Grace Joins VOICE Talks as New Host
by Modev Staff Writers on August 5, 2021
Pete Erickson, Modev CEO and founder of VOICE Talks, had the privilege of interviewing Megan Grace as she prepares to take the helm of the award-winning show. The two of them started the conversation talking about what it means to be the new VOICE Talks host.
“I've been an avid watcher of the show since its inception. In the middle of the pandemic, when we were all really isolated and live events were canceled, here came the show. And it's a great opportunity to hear from all the latest industry experts and kind of track the trends in the industry, so I am just thrilled and so stoked to be the new host!” said Megan.
“We're thrilled to have you as our host for VOICE talks. We're thrilled that somebody with your background, your technological background, and just understanding of the space is going to serve this community,” Pete responded.
Seven-Plus Years in the Making
Megan brings a wealth of experience to the role, including seven-plus years at Google. She first joined as part of the legal team, and later transitioned into business development. Megan shared more about her journey and how she first developed an interest in speech technology. “I worked on a couple of really cool agreements in the voice space; some of my favorites were to bring celebrity voices to the platform. We brought John Legend's voice and Issa Rae’s voice onto the Google Assistant. I remember working with my BD [business development] colleagues of the Google Assistant team at that time and thinking that they were in such a cool space getting to work with third parties in this ecosystem. I found voice, in general, to just be fascinating.”
“I think voice is the coolest area, it is so dynamic, so I am really excited to see where it will go.”
According to Pete, her position provided high-level visibility in an exciting and dynamic market and prepared her for a hosting role in the industry.
Megan works with top global brands like Snapchat, Discord, and Zoom, to bring delightful and helpful experiences to the Google Assistant in her day job. In this role, she has the opportunity to work with various teams and dabble in multiple projects, including the development of Google Assistant’s personality. She also helped to provide jokes for the assistant and licensed animal sounds.
Before moving into her current role, Megan worked in Google Assistant’s natural language understanding (NLU) team on data acquisition efforts. “I learned a ton there about NLU and how we help the assistant train up on various languages to become more fluent, which I think is super important. And that is expanding, as we speak,” she shared.
“Now I get to work with all of these amazing third parties, specifically in the communication space.” According to Megan, “I work with some of these huge companies to bring more seamless video and messaging experiences to Assistant, and I couldn't have chosen that at a better time. As we mentioned, we've been really isolated this last year and a half with the pandemic. And what did everyone miss most? They miss connecting with their loved ones and with their communities.”
“We've been able to launch some really cool experiences like bringing Zoom video calling to our Nest hub, smart display device, and other things that have helped people stay in touch.”
“I feel like I've had a little bit of experience in a few key areas of voice. But I am so excited to learn more. I'm just really hungry for more information in this space. And I think more and more comes out every day. So to that point, being the host of the show of VOICE talks is going to be such a cool and exciting opportunity to hear from everyone around the world, what they're working on and where they see the industry going,” Megan shared.
“You summed it up -- from the marketing and the personality to the communications and the technology, your background covers a breadth of areas that are so important to the space,” shared Pete. “And we're really excited about what the future holds. It's going to be interesting to see what form VOICE Talks takes in the future!”
What’s next for VOICE Talks?
Pete teased, “It's been great to deliver this, you know, 100% virtual content every month. There may be a time when we actually get to see you in person.”
Megan shared, “One of my favorite parts of each of the episodes is actually participating in the live chat. It's just so fun to see where everyone is tuning in from and the different questions and insights that they share. And similarly, the idea of being able to meet in person is almost too good to be true. It feels like we haven't been able to do that in ages. I think we got a little taste of it at VOICE Global of what that could feel like hearing from so many different speakers, but it was still in that virtual format. So I'm really looking forward to some live opportunities, fingers crossed.”
“I'm so excited, and I'm really looking forward to learning from the community. So here's to a lot of amazing content to come!” says Megan.
View the video interview in its entirety here.
Subscribe to watch the next episode of the Webby Award-winning show, featuring the new host Megan Grace, Thursday, August 26 at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT.