Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?
I was born in New Jersey, but was raised in Hong Kong and Tokyo. My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong, my sister and I are first generation Americans. The global nature of my upbringing made me culturally aware at a young age that there was much more to learn. This translated into my career as an engineer. I've always had a sense of curiosity and wanting to problem solve, whether it was puzzles, clocks, door knobs, or light switches.
What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?
I received a BS in Material Science and Engineering from Rutgers University and a Masters in Systems Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. Initially, I was interested in learning more about materials, but that passion evolved into wanting to make a greater impact on society. My first job after college was the Engineering Leadership Development Program (ELDP) at BAE Systems. It’s a rotational program to see different parts of the corporate world.
Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that
got you to where you are today?
There have been many moments but a few that stand out to me:
- At BAE Systems, I had the opportunity to see different life cycles of a program: Final test set-ups (understanding the customer needs to develop something to be easy), to mature products, to continually integrate them.
- At Gogo Business Aviation, I leveraged system engineering foundations to accelerate architecture and design for in-flight connectivity and entertainment systems.
I would say the most critical moment is what got me to where I am now at Motional. I realized I wanted to diversify my skill set and jump into an industry, autonomous vehicles, that I had zero exposure or prior knowledge about. I took a leap of faith into this world of cutting edge technology - it’s been an exciting journey.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
I serve as the Technical Program Leads at Motional where I oversee a large group of talented technical programs managers. We’re focused on bringing our fully driverless (SAE Level 4) robotaxis to market, starting in Las Vegas in 2023.
Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally? Was it always your goal to be in this position?
I’ve always known I’ve wanted to make an impact on people's lives and be surrounded by a strong team that’s passionate about our mission.
For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?
I’d say to never give up on your goals, stay focused on what excites you. While mentorship is frequently discussed, it’s not always easy to enter into that type of relationship. Even without a formal mentor, you can still learn from those around you. Find colleagues or leads who you work with and pick one or two attributes you would like to adopt and use day-to-day. I’ve implemented habits that I admired in leaders
throughout my career.
What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?
In such a dynamic role, it’s critical to:
- Listen to other people's ideas
- Be attentive and present in the conversation
- Obsess over the details
- Trust your colleagues and your strategy
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? What’s the most
At Motional, I’m really fortunate to work with an incredible group of people who have an
unwavering focus on our mission, making driverless vehicles a safe reality.
The most challenging aspect is what we’re building, the technology, level 4 autonomous vehicles. This is one of the most challenging engineering projects of our lifetime. It’s rewarding to work through problems that have never been solved before and see our vehicles hit the roads. AVs will significantly improve transportation for communities around the world, and we’re responsible for making that a reality.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Delivering products to market. At Motional, I worked on the team that was responsible for reaching a significant technical milestone - fully driverless operation in 2020. There are very few companies in the world capable of this, and we’re one of them.
Earlier in my career at Gogo Business Aviation, I helped to deliver a modular platform that is now known as the AVANCE Platform. I was involved in the process to certify the product to meet DO-254 Design Assurance Level (DAL) D which was a first for the company at the time!
Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer
Professionally, I’m part of SWE, Society of Women Engineers. In my personal life, I’m an avid golfer and am a part of the LPGA Amateur Golf Association.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
As I mentioned before, I’m an avid golfer.
How do you manage stress?
Going for a walk with my partner and dog around Boston’s North End, and of course, golf.
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
Depending on the day, 1 to 3 cups.
Any book or podcast recommendations?
Anything Malcolm Gladwell - Blink or Outliers.
What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
Don’t compare yourself to others. You are a unique individual on your own adventure: you get to define, learn, and iterate through every step in your career. Also, you are your own biggest cheerleader and advocate. This advice is especially relevant for women who often aren’t as vocal in advocating for their advancement, whether it’s taking on a new project, position, or raise.