Google Guy

Steven Soneff, a product manager at Google, was born and raised for the first few years of his life in Penticton.

If you’ve ever wondered who’s in charge of keeping your online identity safe, just Google him.

Google product manager Steven Soneff runs his own team at the headquarters in California, but he didn’t always reside in the United States.

Soneff hails from Penticton, born and raised – at least until school-age – and still has fond memories of the South Okanagan.

“We would go to the playground at (Skaha) Lake, and I have distinct memories of that,” he said, adding the sound of the Snowbirds show in the summer left an impact on him, too.

“I remember distinctly being terrified of the sound,” he laughed.

Soneff can’t quite remember which elementary school he attended, and moved away to later attend his educational years around the province, but still calls Penticton home.

And he’s still had the chance to make it home, adding the South Okanagan reminds him in many ways of his new home in California.

“My sister lives in Osoyoos,” he said. “The weather there is so warm compared to the rest of Canada. I really think it’s just a beautiful place with the lake and the hills. There’s a lot of similar scenery to (California).”

Growing up, Soneff always had a passion for math, science and numbers, participating in competitions for fun.

At the time while completing his education at the University of Alberta before moving on to the University of Waterloo, Soneff took part in co-ops with Google while he was a student.

That eventually “evolved into a full career,” Soneff said, and he now manages his own team.

“Product managers at Google are a type of engineer that think about what types of services Google is building, and how we decide what features to add,” he said. “The area I work on is our account security and authentication.”

Soneff said Gmail users will come across his work when signing up and adding their own information.

“There’s a lot of security checks to make sure it’s the right person accessing,” he said. “We do a lot of work to keep (hackers) out.”