Today we’re highlighting Zhiyin, a Drive.ai team member who in her spare time is an exercise maniac, orchid grower and water sports fanatic. She joined the team in October 2017 and leads Data Infrastructure, meaning she’s responsible for the backend infrastructure that feeds Drive.ai’s deep learning stack. As Zhiyin says, “The way I see it, everything Drive.ai does is about safety and accuracy, and that’s powered by data.” When asked why she was excited to join the Drive.ai team, she said, “I enjoy working at growing companies because I can make a big impact, which is very rewarding. Not only is Drive.ai a place where I am fulfilled and proud of the work I’m doing, but the company has a great mission. I really believe that this is a team that can make autonomous driving happen.”
When asked about her path to get to where she is today, Zhiyin says that she fell in love with the complexity and elegance of the engineering space years ago. At the beginning of her career, Zhiyin spent 7 years at Oracle as a Software Engineer. This initial experience helped her understand how a globally distributed team works together effectively. Zhiyin then spent 2 years working on her own social media networking start-up in the Chinese market, which she describes as a “super fun project” where she learned how to juggle competing priorities. Most recently, Zhiyin was the VP of Engineering at Chart.io, where she honed her skills to effectively manage an engineering team that supports the overall growth of the business. She found that being on a management track combined her passion for technical complexity with the intricacies of human nature. As Zhiyin says “I see myself as someone who has struck a balance between both technological and people skills.” Zhiyin derives part of her management philosophy from someone she looks up to, Andrew Ng, one of the company’s Board members and the professor that helped launch the initial co-founding group. “I really admire Andrew. He is very intellectual, but incredibly humble at the same time. He sparks creativity in the team.” She continues, discussing her management philosophy, “I want to enable my teammates to make the right decision by providing the right tools and resources. If the individual succeeds, so does our team — in the end, we are all successful.”
As women still form the minority group within the engineering field, Zhiyin admits that the path to obtaining a leadership position was not always smooth for her. “Female engineers are no less talented. I have often found that I am more self conscious and focus too much on my areas of improvement.” When asked about the challenges that she has personally faced, Zhiyin feels she has had to work harder than her colleagues to prove she had the same, if not better, abilities as her male peers. When asked what advice she can provide for future female engineers and leaders, Zhiyin says, “don’t be afraid to be bold or to take on additional responsibilities. The team will be better off for it.”
In her spare time, Zhiyin loves to travel with her family and spend time with her daughter. She is an avid reader, gardener, and has recently taken up a love for windsurfing. We’re excited to have you on the team, Zhiyin!