It starts with cultivating interests

It starts with cultivating interests

One may not normally think of tax law as a global community-minded profession, but STS alumna Miriam (“Ria”) Paul Thacker ’94 has made her role at Google just that. 

Ria is currently the Director and Senior Counsel of International Tax at Google in San Francisco. Here, among other things, she is involved in bringing internet and cellphone access to people around the world, including remote areas of Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Last year, her main focus was on Google’s Next Billion Users division, where, for example, an investment helped to create more than 1,600 kilometres of fiber networks in five cities across Uganda and Ghana.

For Ria, this role is suiting, as she credits her travels around Africa after university as having a huge impact on her life. “I wanted to explore other cultures and experience something outside my norm. It was life-changing and I came back with a new outlook,” said Ria.
“STS pushed us to experience new things and challenge ourselves,” she continued.

Ria, a mother of two, graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Commerce before attending law school at Howard University in Washington, DC. She then went on to Georgetown University to obtain her masters in tax law.

“I always wanted to work in international law and international tax touched all the practice areas,” said Ria, who, prior to her role at Google, worked with The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta where she focused on projects in Eurasia by working with teams to make investments for the Company and guide some of their philanthropic work related to women, clean water and community well-being.

“It starts at STS, even if you didn’t know what you wanted to do. STS is amazing at cultivating interests. Because of the experience at STS, you’re not afraid of trying different things. Those different experiences shape you. The School fosters a passion to explore the unknown and aim high in achieving your goals,”

 “I made decisions in life thanks to things I learned at STS. I apply this at work every day in terms of how I conduct myself both personally and professionally.”

While at STS, Ria took part in the wide variety of programs the School offers, including the Agency Program. “It made you grateful for your own circumstances and taught you about serving others - it was a unique lesson in compassion. I still think about my Agency and working with the disabled adults at that center.”

But, what perhaps stood out to Ria the most, was the relationships she formed while at STS. By Grade 12, Ria explained, you and your classmates are very much a family. “You grow up together and you experience things together,” said Ria. “It’s a different kind of bond you have as STS alumni and I’m humbled by the achievements of our alumni.”

“I feel that because I went to this amazing school and was fortunate to have this opportunity, I should be doing great things that have an impact in society,” said Ria.