Learn how TRI is working to build an uncrashable car, use robotics to amplify people’s capabilities as they age and leverage artificial intelligence to enable discovery of new materials for batteries and fuel cells.
Like what you see here? Our mission-aligned Girl Geek X partners are hiring!
- See open jobs at Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and check out open jobs at our trusted partner companies.
- Find more TRI Girl Geek Dinner photos from the event – please tag yourselves!
- Does your company want to sponsor a Girl Geek Dinner in 2020? Talk to us!
Toyota Research Institute (TRI) girl geeks: Kelly Kay, Rita Yau, Suzanne Basalla, Jen Cohen, Carrie Bobier-Tiu, Ha-Kyung Kwon, Steffi Paepcke, and Fatima Alloo, at TRI Girl Geek Dinner in Los Altos, California. Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X
Transcript from Toyota Research Institute Girl Geek Dinner:
Angie Chang: Okay. Hi. Thank you all for coming out tonight. My name is Angie Chang and I’m the founder of Girl Geek X. If this is your first time, welcome. I’ve heard several stories of women who have got tickets for Girl Geek dinners over the last decade and missed one, two, three and four and they’re here tonight. So thank you so much for coming after a long day of work and having fun with us at Toyota Research Institute. I’m really excited to be here and learn all about the cool things. I wanted to point out at these actually really fun stickers. They have the robot arm and the car. If you want to pick them up, they’re not business cards. You can pick them up and take them home with you.
Gretchen DeKnikker: Hi everybody. I’m Gretchen also with Girl Geek. How is that food? Can we just all applaud for how amazing that was? You guys, Toyota has just killed it tonight unlike every level. It’s [inaudible] and I’m not jinxing anything. I swear. And if this looks fun, you can do it at your company too. We do these almost every week and a different company hosts. And so grab someone in a red t-shirt who can put you in touch with someone who actually did the planning, who can tell you how much work it takes, that it’s really fun, that you can bond with your colleagues, that you’re elevating women in your company. You have a cool video to submit to Grace Hopper next year. All these awesome things that can come out of it. So with that, how many of you it’s your first time? Okay, so we want to see you. You can come all the time now. You can do this all the time with all these awesome women. Okay, perfect. I would like to welcome Rita from team Toyota.
Rita Yau: Thank you, Angie and Gretchen. Hi, everybody. Thank you for coming tonight. Hopefully you guys are full with all the food and have a beverage in hand. A few shout outs. We have a few of our executives here this evening. We have our SVP of our autonomous driving organization, Ryan Eustice, as well as his two VPs, Wolfram Burgard and Steve Winston here with us as well. And then we have Max Bajracharya, who is head of our robotics organization. And so we’re really excited to have you guys and have them supporting us. And with that I just wanted to give the platform to our Executive Vice President and CFO, Kelly Kay, who’s going to go over our mission statement.
EVP and CFO Kelly Kay gives a talk on “TRI’s Mission: Improving the Quality of Life” at Toyota Research Institute Girl Geek Dinner.
Kelly Kay: Welcome everybody. I’m super excited to have you all here today, and it’s been so much fun to wander about and hear everyone talking and learning more about what we do here at TRI. It feels like we’ve been living in the shadow and now that so many wonderful people have come to learn more about what we do, I’m hoping we could do more events like that here at TRI. I need the clicker. Okay. So I want to talk a little bit about improving the quality of life and TRI’s mission, but I’m going to actually start with myself and my journey that actually brought me here to TRI.
Kelly Kay: I actually went to Ohio State, go Buckeyes IO. So really excited, especially since we have partnerships with the University of Michigan and when I go to Michigan, I have to wear my Ohio gear. Sorry Ryan. I also went to law school, so I’m actually a lawyer. I practiced law for over 20 years before I made it to TRI and I did so kind of in a unique way. My life was actually really focused around taking traditional products and turning them into online products. So I started in the banking industry, so and I don’t want to date myself, but back in the day before you could actually log into a website and look at your bank balance or pay your bills online or apply for a credit card, I was working at a bank trying to make those products possible.
Kelly Kay: So it kind of progressed through my life of kind of taking these really old fashioned, old school regulated industries and turning them into something that was cool and new and innovative. And it kind of ended most recently at Lyft, where I was working as the VP of Operations and helping them actually take their product around America and working in negotiating with different regulators on how you actually take what’s traditionally a taxi industry and turning into a ride sharing industry. So it was really fun to help Lyft grow. And I came to TRI, actually, to be the Chief Operating Officer almost three years ago, and it hit me at just the right time.
Kelly Kay: So Lyft is an amazing company. I was doing amazing things, in my opinion, changing the world as it came to transportation. And when I was approached by TRI, they came to be in the first conversation was more about the mission at TRI. And I was in a really unique place in my life where my stepmother had just had two strokes. My father had fallen trying to help her get up. They ended up on the floor or calling me and calling 911 and they’re like, “Wow,” I’m like, “What’s going to happen to my parents when I live so far away and I have to find a way to actually make sure that they can take care of themselves at home because we can’t always be there and it’s really hard and expensive to afford a home to put them in.” At the same time, my dad could no longer really drive well because he’s disabled and I was thinking, what am I going to do?
Kelly Kay: And when I was talking to the recruiter, they were telling me about the vision and the mission at TRI and what it was all about. You guys have learned quite a bit about it tonight and I was thinking, wow, this company, I could go work at a company that’s actually going to change the future and enable people like my father and my stepmother to actually be able to stay home and age in place and not have to worry about caregivers coming in and being embarrassed by caregivers coming in and taking care of them all the time. And my dad’s not going to have to worry about how is he going to get to his doctor’s appointment or how is he going to get to the grocery store because he can’t drive anymore, because we’re going to have autonomous cars and I’m going to work for a company that can help solve these problems for people in my life that I care about, and ultimately for myself.
Kelly Kay: This probably isn’t going to be around when my dad is still alive, but it’s going to be around when I need it most. I’m an only child. What happens when I’m by myself at my house and I need to get to the doctor? So our vision and mission is really about that. We are actually envisioning a future where Toyota products dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone. And our mission is to develop automated driving robotics and other human amplification technology for Toyota in this space that will enable us to actually allow people like my father and your parents to age in place gracefully, to be able to still move around the home and have robots help them move around the home, and help us transport ourselves from point A to point B in a safe way through autonomous vehicles. So, our leadership team was another thing that really inspired me to come to TRI.
Kelly Kay: We’ve got some of the most amazing minds when it comes to autonomous driving and robotics here at TRI. And the best part about them, is I was very scared, I’m a lawyer, I’m not an engineer. What am I going to do? How am I going to sit at the table with these people because they are so smart and they don’t have the egos that you think these people would have. There’s a lot of doctors that you’re seeing. So most of these folks are PhDs and they really bring a lot to the table without the ego that usually comes with it. And I found that to be one of the other amazing things when I was thinking about coming to TRI, is the people I’m going to be working with really matter.
Kelly Kay: And we just spent three days together, everyone on this screen, actually, learning and thinking together about how to design the future of TRI and what should we be thinking about? How do we even be more innovative than we’re being today? It’s a constant question that we’re asking here everyday at TRI is how do we do more? How do we think about the next great thing that we’re going to do to help transform Toyota and the world today to be more mobile. And our values are another reason why I wanted to come to TRI. When I came here there were… Toyota has principles and it’s got these 10 principles that they bring from Japan and they exist and it’s really, how do you think about working at Toyota? But I wanted TRI to have its own values.
Kelly Kay: And what I did with the team was really think through what we want them to be. And I wanted to put a lot of myself into this because at that point in a lot of what my role is, is really about enabling the company as a whole to be more effective, to helping them design the future, to work with the HR team on the type of people in the culture we want here, to work with the engineering team to get things done, which should the processes be that we have to get things done, building all of that within the company. And the values really are the contract that we have. And when we think about how we work together at TRI, the be yourself value is the one that is the most important to me. And I’m kind of the sponsor of that value, if you could possibly sponsor a value.
Kelly Kay: And we spent some time during our retreat with a famous actor, a Japanese actor, and if anyone watched the TV show Heroes? Yes. So, the Japanese character that reads the comic book and goes back in time. So he came to our retreat with us and worked with us on actually being yourself even more and kind of almost being a child. And we were doing improv and he’s like, “Make a blue doctor machine.” And we’re like, “What?” So we all had to act out a blue doctor machine. It was really like anything you could think of to really be yourself. And he’s like, “Everyone is a genius.” And he really got us to think of our internal genius. So even though we all bring different skills to the table and we all have different levels of education, we actually are in each individual a genius in and amongst themselves.
Kelly Kay: So what my genius is may not be the same as somebody else’s, but we each have individual characteristics and at TRI, it’s really important that everyone has a seat at the table and a voice at the table to bring their unique characteristics to what we’re doing here. The next is respect one another. And that one is just as important as being yourself. And I think they balance each other out really well because if you’re a jerk, you still have to respect somebody else. So we think about these of kind of making sure that we’re really thinking about all of these as a whole and respecting one another is another one. It’s super important. Again, we might not all have the same opinion, but we want to hear everyone’s opinion.
Kelly Kay: We want to think about it, we want to debate, we want to make informed decisions. So we have to sit back and respect everyone’s opinion here at TRI. And the next is assume best intentions. And this picture is mine. And I will explain the picture to you. I foster kittens throughout the kitten season here in Silicon Valley. We do about 2,400 foster kittens every season here. And I have a German shepherd and he loves to play with the kittens. He’s always licking the kittens and things like that. And the question is, is this dog eating the kitten or is he saving the kitten? He’s in fact saving the kitten. And even dogs are basically good. So we’d like to assume here at TRI that people are basically good. We need to assume best intentions.
Kelly Kay: We’re working in an interesting environment. We have offices all over the world. A lot of email and email can always lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding. So we’d like to make sure that when we’re like, when we get upset, when we read that flaming email, it could be a cultural issue because people are speaking many different languages at Toyota. It could be an issue someone’s just grumpy because they worked late and they just sent something out they shouldn’t send. So we like to think about things of always step back, don’t get upset, assume best intentions, and that really allows us to interact in a different way here at TRI than you would find in other companies where you’re like, people come in very aggressively into meetings like, “Well, why did you send that?” We are like, “Hey, now I assume you didn’t really mean this, but this is how I took it. Let’s talk.”
Kelly Kay: So we just take a different approach to things here. And then thinking globally, again, we’re a global company. TRI’s a small part of a really large company. There’s 360,000 people at Toyota. We are 350, 340 people. So we need to make sure we’re thinking globally on everything we’re doing when we’re designing the car, when we’re designing a robot, we’re actually looking at it from a broader perspective than most companies would. And then finally, make it happen. We’re here, we’re in Silicon Valley, we need to move quick. Japanese companies are historically slow. TRI I was created to actually move faster than a traditional Japanese company. So we’d like to think of ourselves as kind of this company of making things happen.
Kelly Kay: That means taking risks, doesn’t mean jeopardizing safety, but it means taking risks and making decisions and things like that to allow us to move as quickly as possible. I probably completely failed to talk about what I was supposed to talk about, which is what I do here, but these are the things that I put together that are a main part of what I do here at TRI. I have CFO in the title. It’s about this much of what I do. I spend a lot of my time in meetings, just making sure things actually get done. Sometimes it’s coaching people, sometimes it’s helping with reorganizations, sometimes it’s figuring out what should we do strategically? How should we design a program? Why should we do things in a certain way?
Kelly Kay: So I spend a lot of time with the executive team, with anyone who wants to come and talk to me. I believe in an open door policy, and I work really closely with the CEO as well. So, if you want to know anything about TRI, I probably know it. If you wanted something technical you should probably talk to somebody else. But I am a work in progress. So a lot of the professors have taken me under their wing and have been teaching me a little bit more about the technology behind what we do. But again, I think we have a great lineup of some amazing technical people who are going to come up and talk to you and some of our really good leaders here at TRI. So thank you for all coming out. And again, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me or anyone on the staff. We’re super excited to have you here tonight and hopefully you learn a lot about TRI. Thanks. And I didn’t do everything and that’s what really matters.
Rita: Thank you, Kelly.
Kelly Kay: Do you want this?
Rita: All right. So I also just wanted to add to that, one of the reasons why I joined TRI was because of the amazing, awesome things that we do here. And everybody here at TRI really does have the same mission and goal to better the world. And so I’m super privileged to be working with a bunch of amazing, awesome people. And with that we are going to kick off our next round of lightning speakers and we’re going to have the next couple of speakers come up. And Carrie Bobier-Tu, who is our manager of the… Or one of our managers in our autonomous driving organization is going to come up and give us her overview of why she’s here.
Manager of Control, Planning and Control Driving Team Carrie Bobier-Tiu gives a talk on “Building the Uncrashable Car” at TRI Girl Geek Dinner.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: Thanks everybody for coming. I’m really glad to see so many people here. My name is Carrie Bobier-Tu, and I’m the manager of our control team, which is part of our autonomous driving team. And I’ll talk a little bit more about what that means in a minute. But first I’m also going to tell you kind of how I got to TRI. So, the first kind of engineering project, hands on project that I worked on was, I was a member of the Solar Car team at Stanford University when I was an undergrad. So it’s the picture of upper left for you guys.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: But I worked, as you can see, on a team of me and a bunch of guys, pretty much, and we built this solar car and raced it from Texas to Canada–cutting out–over a week one summer. And that was kind of my entry into cars and my love for cars. A lot of hands on experience there in engineering and also met who would become my advisor for my PhD and kind of build the next many years of my life at Stanford. So Chris Gerdes is a professor at Stanford in vehicle dynamics and control, and I started talking to him about suspension design for the solar car, really got along with him and his students [inaudible] lab and ended up staying in the lab for the next eight years to do my masters and PhD there.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: The two cars that you see that kind of looked like black dune buggies are the vehicles that I worked on there. The top one I used for my research, which was based around safety systems and advanced stability control and how we can kind of take the stability control that we have and vehicles on the road to the next level by having advanced sensing capabilities. And I also worked on building a new platform, which is the car on the bottom, two students and many after us, kind of, we worked on this car together and I worked on designing a suspension system that can enhance friction estimation capabilities. So I really got deep into vehicle dynamics and engineering here. I was really hands on with it.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: I liked building cars in our test beds and working with all the sensors and computers, but when I graduated not that long ago, even, there weren’t really any autonomous driving or vehicle control jobs in the Bay Area. So I went to work at HGST, which is a hard drive company. It’s now part of Western Digital. But I am really glad that I went and worked there because I got the experience of designing a control system for a product that you had to have this controller that worked on millions and millions of devices that were going out to customers. So I think having that product experience early in my career was really helpful to me in seeing how to design a robust product and a robust controller. I also got into CrossFit there and got to work with my husband, who’s the second from the left in that picture with all of the red shirts.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: They had a CrossFit company, or CrossFit gym, at the company, which was really cool and kind of has spurred my interest in health since then, which I’m really appreciative. But I really missed working on cars. So after a couple of years, the autonomous driving business was kind of starting to pop up and I went to work with a few of my old lab mates at Renault, which is the sister company of Nissan for those of us in the United States who aren’t familiar with Renault. But they have a small outlet here in Sunnyvale. So we built this a test vehicle, Callie, the white car with the stripes, and it was just a team of three of us. We were working on controls research. It was basically an extension of my PhD. We were all kind of coming from that same background.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: So I had kind of the research experience there that I was really enjoying, but it wasn’t going anywhere into a product or out into the company. And we didn’t have a lot of support from the Renault or Nissan itself to do that. So I was starting to look for something different. And what drew me to TRI, it was a couple of things. One was that continued ability to do the research that I was really engaged with, and continuing on for my PhD and bringing that experience with me. And the other piece of it was the ability to work on a safety system that would go into real vehicles. So around the time that I was at Renault, I had a son. So it became very important to me.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: It’s kind of like figuring out how to make cars safer for my family and for everyone that I know and since I have that background and expertise, I was really excited to come here and work on the guardian system that we have, which I’ll get into in a minute. The other thing that’s really great about TRI is our ability to do research with universities. That’s been mentioned a few times before, but this is the bottom of the last picture is me with some of the students at Stanford. We went out and got to drivers around with one of Toyota’s Drift drivers.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: So, TRI, we have kind of two approaches to automated driving. So we’ve talked, think of it as one system, but two modes that are built on the same technologies. The first one is Guardian, which is a parallel autonomy system where the driver is still in control of the car. So we try to follow the driver’s intended commands but with minimal and intuitive interventions to maintain safety. And then the second half of our automated driving stack is the one that more people are familiar with, in general in the industry, which is the fully autonomous system where the autonomy system is determining some kind of policy for the vehicle to drive.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: And we calculate commands that can maintain the safety of the vehicle, like for steering, acceleration and braking. So how does my team’s work fit into this? In the autonomous driving stack, as we call it, which is kind of the full set of software that runs the autonomous vehicle, we have some large groups of kind of algorithmic expertise or design. So there’s a perception system, which is taking in all the information from the sensors of the vehicle and figuring out what does the road look like, who’s on the road around us? And then on top of that comes the prediction system, which is, we know what’s happening now, but what’s going to happen in the future?
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: And finally, planning. So what should the car do, given what the environment looks like or in the Guardian case, what do we think the driver’s going to do in the near future? And control is a part of this planning problem. So what my team does, is something that we call Envelope Control. It’s something that I started developing, as I mentioned when I was doing my PhD. Envelope Control is a holistic control scheme that keeps a given system inside a safe operating regime or envelope. So we have a few things that we have to do. One, is stay on the road and don’t hit anything.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: Two, is to maintain stability of the car. So, for example, if you’re driving on an icy road, you can lose control of the car and spin out. So we’re trying to prevent situations like that or situations where like a kid runs out in front of the car and you might not have time to stop, so you have to swerve around them. We also don’t want to ask the car to do something it can’t. So if it can’t swerve around for some reason, there’s something in the way, don’t ask it to do that.
Carrie Bobier-Tiu: If we don’t have enough steering capability or enough or the ability to brake fast enough, we can’t ask the car to do that. So we need to know what the limits are. And finally, for the Guardian system, we want to give the driver as much control of the car as possible, but help them maintain the safety of that vehicle. So the technology that we build kind of incorporates all of these things together. And that’s how we, here at TRI on the control team, are trying to create an uncrashable car. Thanks.
Research Scientist Ha-Kyung Kwon gives a talk on “Accelerating Materials Discovery by Helping You Fail Faster” at TRI Girl Geek Dinner.
Ha-Kyung Kwon: Hi, my name is Ha-Kyung Kwon, research scientist on the Accelerated Materials Design and Discovery or AMDD team here at TRI. So I’m also going to talk about my path to TRI, but I’m going to start from the very beginning. So I was born in Seoul, South Korea. Spent most of my childhood and adolescent years in Manila, in the Philippines, where my dad’s job took us. And it was fantastic growing up in the Philippines. There’s warm tropical weather, great food, white sandy beaches, which was on the picture there. But my favorite part was meeting friends from all over the world.
Ha-Kyung Kwon: And in fact, when I’m not here talking about science on a Thursday night, I’m out there playing flag football with my high school friends, their college friends, and their friends. So anyway, when I graduated from high school, I went to Princeton to study chemical and biological engineering. And my first year at Princeton I started doing research in an organic solar cells lab, and I loved it so much that I continued to do research in the same lab for the next three years. When I graduated from Princeton, I decided that I wanted to do even more polymer science research.
Ha-Kyung Kwon: So I went to Northwestern to get a PhD in material science and engineering. My PhD work was on the face behavior of ion containing polymers. These are polymers that are great candidates for polymer or plastic batteries. Plastic batteries, you might ask. But think about all the plastics or polymers that you know, and their rich properties, like styrofoam, which is light but rigid, nylons and polyesters, which you can wear, and Kevlar, which is extremely tough. It’s Bulletproof. Think about this wide array of properties that polymers have and imagine the possibilities. A polymer battery that is flexible, lightweight, safe, and even recyclable is not out of the question, but it’s going to take many, many years before we can get there and that’s because the scientific research process is incredibly slow.
Ha-Kyung Kwon: First, you have to understand the problem. What are the technical challenges of making a polymer battery? What’s been tried, what hasn’t been tried? Then you have to formulate a hypothesis. Maybe this material has a mechanical strength in the ionic conductivity that’s relevant for a polymer battery. Then you have to figure out how to make that material. Then you test it to see if it has the properties that you want. Once you have the results, you analyze them. Did your hypothesis work? Yes, no, maybe you don’t know. So you have to repeat the entire process. And this process is slow, not only because each step can take a long time, but because many scientific hypotheses end in failures, and that’s part of the process.
Ha-Kyung Kwon: It’s what enables us to learn, to refine our understanding of science and to take a step in the right direction. But this necessary process is unnecessarily slow. In a traditional industrial lab, the R&D cycle can take anywhere between five and 25 years, even more. And we don’t have this kind of time to solve the challenges that we face today. As of 2017, transportation accounted for more than 29% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and more than 82% of that came from driving. The technologies that we have in our cars and trucks today simply aren’t cutting it. For a sustainable future we need new materials and new technologies, and we can’t wait tens of years. So how do we accelerate this materials discovery process while enhancing scientists’ ability to learn, to discover, and to advance scientific knowledge?
Ha-Kyung Kwon: And that’s where my team comes in. Using big data, machine learning methods, and high throughput automated experiments that are driven by these methods, we develop tools to accelerate the design of advanced materials for zero emission technology, such as batteries and fuel cells. Our tools accelerate materials discovery by helping researchers fail faster. And what does that mean? Here are some of the projects that our team’s been working on. Matscholar uses natural language processing that contains over… Sorry. It contains information from over four million scientific abstracts. In the matter of minutes, it can help you discover whether materials that are similar to yours in composition, property, or application have already been studied.
Ha-Kyung Kwon: Something that without this tool could have taken you years, if not decades, to achieve. Using machine learning methods, we’ve also created beep, which can predict the lifetime of a battery from just the first hundred cycles. And this saves a ton of time on the battery development cycle because currently in order to test a battery’s lifetime, you have to cycle it until it dies, which can take more than thousands of cycles. In addition, using optimal experiment design, we can recommend the next set of experiments to run, given the last set that you ran and its results. We can even teach a scientific tool the scientific method in CAMD.
Ha-Kyung Kwon: Given an objective, such as discover a new stable material, it can formulate its own hypothesis, launch simulations according to that hypothesis, refine its hypothesis according to failed simulations, and keep running them until it discovers a new stable material, and it does the leg work so that you as a researcher don’t have to start from ground zero. As you can see, our work in AMDD really spans many materials, many applications, and many scientific disciplines. And this brings me to my favorite part, the people. Our team really brings together scientists and engineers from a diverse set of backgrounds anywhere from computational physics, applied math, to software engineering, who are passionate about discovering materials and accelerating materials discovery for zero emission technology.
Ha-Kyung Kwon: Our tools are interdisciplinary because they’ve been developed, tested, and used firsthand by researchers with diverse backgrounds: us. We also maintain deep connections to fundamental science. Our tools really draw from and build upon the intuition and knowledge of scientists and seek to empower scientists in their learning. And to do this, we work very closely with our consortium of more than 10 university partners and 125 researchers from those academic institutions. Our goal is to accelerate materials discovery, not just for the autonomous vehicle industry, but for the scientific community as a whole. By building tools, we’re building connections and communities because we believe that working together and failing together is the fastest way to sustainable solutions. Thank you.
Rita Yau: Thank you, Ha-Kyung. All right. Okay. To kick off the next section, we are going to be having Jen Cohen, our VP of Operations to tell us about her journey.
VP of Operations Jen Cohens gives a talk on “I am the IT Guy” at TRI Girl Geek Dinner.
Jen Cohen: Hi, everyone. I’m so glad you’re here tonight. Thank you, Rita, for the introduction. My name is Jen Cohen, I’m VP of Operations for TRI. You’ll notice my presentation is I am the IT Guy. I promise I’ll explain that. How many people here are in IT? All right, I guess I kind I am. Ian, did you raise your hand back there?
Jen Cohen: Okay. Halfway. How many of you have had to say, “I am the IT guy?” Okay, so it’s not just me. I feel better. So I’m going to talk to you a little bit about my journey, a little bit about operations, and some of my hacks for high performance teams. So over the years I’ve had to say I am the IT guy. And recently I had to do a presentation talking about my career, and I realized that not only have I had to say it a lot, but I’ve actually learned to love it. I love that surprise when they realize that it’s actually me who’s going to be giving them the answer. And, you know, Facebook’s great about reminding us of what’s happened in the past. So I found this memory recently from 2011.
Jen Cohen: So apparently I’ve been saying the same thing for a while, “Wow, just had another vendor say, ‘Your IT guy needs to…’ It’s funny and sad that they never assume it could be a woman.” But at the end of the day, I love it now. I’ll share that way back when those were popular phones, I started my career as a sys admin at Cisco and I grew my career to do IT management at companies like Smith and Hawkin, which is gone now, but Birkenstock, anybody rocking the Birkenstocks tonight? The big question is do you have socks on? And then I grew from there to do technology development and platform management.
Jen Cohen: So platforms in the convention and real estate industry and the gift about doing technology, the gift about being in IT is that you get to see problems across the entire organization. And I really love to problem solve, but I realized technology wasn’t going to be enough. And so recently, a few years back, got into operations management at Line2, and then here at TRI. I will also share with you that I’m a mom. I have a daughter, Sabrina, who is a junior in college. She’s a computer science major, but she thinks she’s totally different than me. And I have my son Logan, he is a senior in high school and he’s an artist. And based on these slides we know he didn’t get it from me.
Jen Cohen: And then I’d like to talk to you a little bit about operations at TRI. So the teams that I am either responsible for or support some of them, IT of course, because I am the IT guy. But there’s more than me and the amazing team that does that work. CyberSecurity. I co-sponsor the Infrastructure Engineering team. So, that’s essentially a fancy way of saying dev ops. Facilities, Internal Comp, I’m not going to go through the list, but a good group of people who support a lot of fun things here. We have three sites in California, in Michigan, and where am I missing? Massachusetts. I can’t believe I forgot that. I was born there. I should remember.
Jen Cohen: We manage over a hundred key systems, and we support over 300 employees, contractors, and interns. And I decided to show you a picture of some of the amazing folks we have in our ops team because while I say I’m the IT guy, these are the really, the folks who make it happen. And the challenges that we have as Operations at TRI are speed. And while I’d like to have that car, that’s not actually the speed I’m talking about. We move really fast. Our researchers, they need things. We need to make sure that they have what they need at the right time, and we need them to be able to move quickly. We need to be, as has been mentioned, able to fail fast, and we need to get it done at my absolute favorite deadline, which is yesterday.
Jen Cohen: Ask anyone on the team. But we also have to have balance. Part of our job is to protect the company, to protect ourselves. And so we need to make sure we have things like cybersecurity. At the same time we need to enable people to use the technology and get out of their way. We need to have freedom within constraints. And we have these amazing, really smart researchers and software developers. And so we want to make sure that they have the time to work on the things that they’re there for and don’t have to build the technology. But at the same time, some of them know far more about the tech at their desk than we do. So we want to make sure that they have the self-service.
Jen Cohen: So we’re not blocking them. And finally we want to make sure that we’re flexible because there are things that are failing fast, and we need to make sure that we can pivot when the direction of research changes. And we need to build platforms that don’t pin us into a corner. So flexibility. So that’s a little bit about TRI, and the fun things that we do in our Operations team. And then I will briefly share with you three of my hacks for building high performance teams. So how many people here have heard of the concept tank in relation to support teams? Lauren, you don’t count. You know what that is. Anyone else?
Jen Cohen: So learned about tank, a few companies back at a PagerDuty summit, and the idea comes from video games, and I hate to say it, but it’s the person who takes all the hits in a video game, right? So from a support perspective, we have tier one and we have tier two and we want to make sure that our tier two teams who are handling escalations also have time to do the projects that they need to do to help our researchers be successful. And so if they’re handling escalations all day long, they’re not getting the chance to do their project work. So the idea of tank is that one day a week, each sys admin takes on the escalation, they get all the interruptions, they have to deal with it, they don’t get to do their project work, but they get four days the rest of the week relatively uninterrupted.
Jen Cohen: The nice thing about this is it absolutely forces cross training. So if Ian is the only one who knows how to fix the mics and Ian is on vacation, somebody else knows how because they’ve had to handle it on their escalation day. So that’s probably the most powerful thing I think we’ve brought to IT and Infrastructure Engineering here at TRI. My next hack is to celebrate wins. Now I know this can sound a little bit Pollyanna, but I will say, how many people here are problem solvers, and how often do you think about the ones behind you that you finished? Are you mostly looking at the ones coming forward? Yeah, so the problem with that is it’s easy to burn out. So I think it’s really important that we celebrate our wins, not just look forward to the next problem.
Jen Cohen: So in our weekly meetings, our teams list their wins first, so we get a chance to memorialize them and then we list our challenges, so that we have that moment of really acknowledging the work that we’ve done. The other nice thing about this as we put it into a deck that we can go back and look at, because I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what problems I was working on in January, February, March. Anybody here remember theirs? So the nice thing is because we memorialize this, we can go back at the end of the year and look back at what we’ve done and have that moment to remember. And I think that’s really important for support teams, especially, to keep moving forward.
Jen Cohen: And my final hack, and I am the IT guy and I love my technology, but is get off your keyboard. How many of you have been on the email, the GChat, the Slack that has turned into a book? Yeah, not just me. One of the things I found a few years back, I was working with these two developers who were, I think, on GChat and they were going at each other, but they were saying the same thing. They just didn’t realize it. We got them on the phone and within five minutes, they realized they were saying the same thing. The argument was over and they were coding the solution. And I realized at that point how about some part of my job is making sure that people connect.
Jen Cohen: So how many of you have seen the keyboard warrior at work? How many of you have been the keyboard warrior? I’ll admit it, I’ve been there, I’ve sent a flame email I probably shouldn’t have. So the reason I put this up here, and whether you’re a manager or you’re an individual contributor, doesn’t matter. Get off your keyboard. If that’s starting to happen, get on a call. I hate the phone too, but get on a call, get on a VTC, go to somebody’s desk. Because that really will help to work out those problems. And I will also say use Kelly’s tip. Assume best intentions when you do. All right, that’s it for me. Thank you guys so much.
Legal Counsel Fatima Alloo gives a talk on “Navigating the Intersection of Law and Technology” at TRI Girl Geek Dinner.
Fatima Alloo: Hello? Looks like it’s working. Thank you. Hi, everyone. My name is Fatima Alloo and I’m part of the legal team here at TRI. Thank you for coming. So many of you. So, I actually will be talking about navigating. It’s actually a less daunting presentation that’s, than my title might indicate. But what I really want to do is share a little bit about what it is that I do here and some of the awesome issues that we get engage on here as part of the legal team at TRI. And, first I’ll go ahead and start with my career background. So for me, it all started a long time ago when I graduated from law school. And there I am with my parents who are super proud and excited at the time.
Fatima Alloo: After law school, I went into patent litigation, and essentially, I was defending clients in patent infringement lawsuits. So that meant that I had to get quickly up to speed on the mechanics of various technologies, including fun topics like semiconductor fabrication and audio and visual signal processing. And while I loved it, the more I interacted with various tech companies, I started realizing that I was more interested in how the technologies that I was defending were actually developed. So I knew someone at an augmented reality startup called Meta, and it turned out that they needed some legal support. So, I convinced my law firm to second me there, part-time.
Fatima Alloo: And in short, I absolutely loved it. And since that time, I was just so eager to find a way to work full time for a cutting edge tech company with a heart. And that’s how I ended up here at TRI. Now, from all in working with these clients and companies on various, on existing and new technologies, what I realized is, I actually discovered something about the law. And what I realized is that while it’s obviously really important as a lawyer to know what the existing laws are, the law is actually a pretty dynamic and adaptable and can actually be shaped by individuals in this space. In short, the law can actually be fun. Surprise, surprise.
Fatima Alloo: So let me take a quick poll. Who gets excited when you hear the words, “legal’s involved”? Wow, thank you. Wow. It’s more than I expected. Most of you probably think something closer to this. And don’t worry, I’m not going to take any offense. Sometimes these feelings or thoughts are justified, but at TRI, as part of the legal team at TRI, we like to see ourselves a little bit differently instead of trying to attack or pounce on your project, we’re here to support it. And while I can’t help you with the technical side of things, what I can do is amplify your voice in how the next generation of tech is received. I can enable you to partner with other players in this space and I can help ensure that all of your hard work is properly secured.
Fatima Alloo: And ultimately for me, this is what makes it super rewarding to be part of legal team here at TRI. Now, I’m sure all of you are just itching to know, what does my day to day role look like as a lawyer at TRI? Fear not. I have put together three words to describe what I do here, and my team does here. Pioneer, partner and protect. First as a lawyer at TRI, we get to pioneer and all of you have heard Carrie’s presentation, all of the awesome work that we’re doing in the automated vehicle space. And we all have some sense in terms of how automated vehicles are going to disrupt the automotive industry. But the big question on the legal side of the equation is what should the laws and regulations that govern automated driving look like?
Fatima Alloo: What standards should manufacturers that are making automated vehicles adhere to? So, imagine with me for a moment that you are in an automated vehicle and it’s taking you to your destination, but for some reason you need to stop abruptly. Where is the stop button? What does it look like? What color is it? What shape is it, where is it located? And is it located in the same place across vehicles made by different car manufacturers? These all might seem like trivial questions, but it’s important to build a consensus with commercial players in the space for the industry to flourish. Now, we’re super lucky here at TRI because we’re part of Toyota and one of the biggest automobile makers in the world.
Fatima Alloo: And because Toyota is also part of the automated vehicle space, we actually get a seat at the table in determining how these laws are developed. And as a lawyer, consensus building, negotiation, drafting laws and regulations and standards, those are right in the wheelhouse of my skillset and our skillset. But what we need to do is hear and understand from our engineers on what they think the solutions to be to issues like this. And once we do hear from them, we can actually advocate on their behalf. The second thing that we get to do is partner kind of like C3PO and R2D2. Anyway, so as you’re on your way to bringing, onto building groundbreaking technologies, you’re going to need some support. And while we have many brilliant minds here at TRI, many of whom you’ve heard from and will hear from, no company can do this alone.
Fatima Alloo: So you might need to find support outside of our company. Maybe you want to partner with a university or a consultant or a startup that’s developing a component that you just need to have to make your solution come to life. Our job then becomes to make that partnership happen, support the development of your tech, and then to think through about whether this project is really in the business’s best interest. So let’s say, for example, you’ve decided to partner with one of our universities and, as Carrie mentioned, we partner with so many universities, and Ha-Kyung. And so let’s say one thing you might want to think through is, what does each player want to get out of that deal?
Fatima Alloo: The university might want to ensure that they own the IP that’s generated in a joint collaboration. TRI might then want to ensure that we have licenses to that jointly developed technology in case we want to commercialize the tech down the line. The point is, that as lawyers, we often have to think through these situations and then memorialize these agreements in writing. The last thing that we do is protect. Now while you’re engaging with different partners, one big question for TRI is how do we make sure that we’re protected in the process? So I often, am asking several questions, basically. For example, does the partner have access to our systems, data, or code?
Fatima Alloo: Has a partner agreed to be liable if they fail to protect our systems, data, or code? And, sometimes it’s more along the lines of are their cybersecurity standards strong enough to actually guard our code? Occasionally I ask the question of–sometimes the questions are very different in, might be something closer to, as a TRI employee, you think copyrighted images that they don’t have a license for when giving a presentation before hundreds of people. The point is that because we’re in a very hot space, that being self-driving car research and robotics for mobility, we’re subject to a lot of both malicious and inadvertent threats that could cause a company like ours to lose their competitive edge.
Fatima Alloo: And for you Black Panther fans out there, I like to think of our role as protecting the secrets of Wakanda. So, now that you’d have a better idea of what it is that I do here at TRI, and what a lawyer does more generally at a tech company in terms of pioneering, partnering, and protecting, I hope that the next time you have a project you might be the one to get legal involved, and see how we can help you get to wherever you’re going. Thank you.
Rita: Thank you, Fatima. All right. With that, we’re going to welcome Steffi Paepcke who is a Senior UX Designer on our robotics team to the stage.
Steffi Paepcke: All right. Am I on? Can you hear me?
Audience Member: Yes.
Senior UX Designer of Robotics Steffi Paepcke gives a talk on “Designing Robots to Serve an Aging Population” at TRI Girl Geek Dinner.
Steffi Paepcke: Yes. Okay, great. Cool. Hi everyone. My name is Steffi Paepcke. I’m a Senior UX Designer here. I work on the robotic side of the world and I don’t want to leave you hanging. I’m going to tell you how I got here as well. I started by studying psychology at UC Santa Cruz and after that I kind of didn’t really know what to do. I thought about being a therapist. That had been sort of my goal for a long time. And I wound up at Willow Garage as a research assistant.
Audience Member: Oh.
Steffi Paepcke: Oh, someone’s heard of Willow?
Audience Member: Yes.
Steffi Paepcke: Yeah, cool. Willow Garage, for those of you who don’t know, it was a now defunct privately funded research company. We did all kinds of really exciting work. The PR2 robot, we made turtle bots. We made what now is beam telepresence robots and we did a lot of the maintenance, the primary maintenance on ROS robot operating system and it was at Willow Garage, it was really a pivotal position for me is where I realized that I can combine my interest in humans and how they think and feel and interact with other people and objects. I could combine that with technology and in this case robotics.
Steffi Paepcke: And that was a really big sort of turning point for me where I kind of found robotics is the field that I wanted to work in. I realized also that I needed more training. So I went to Carnegie Mellon and received a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction. And then after that I came back to the Bay Area where I grew up and co-founded Open Source Robotics Foundation, which is now just called Open Robotics. And they are now the primary maintainers of ROS and Gazebo, which is a physics-based robot simulator. One of the biggest projects OSRF worked on was the DARPA Robotics Challenge.
Steffi Paepcke: Which was a little while ago now, but it was a very impressive program put on by DARPA where teams competed in search and rescue tasks with an Atlas humanoid robot or with a robot that they had built themselves. And the program manager of that project was Gill Pratt, who is the TRI CEO now. So I ended up here and have been working on really exciting robots since arriving about three years ago. So I’m part of the UX team. We have user experience researchers, designers and industrial designers. And our main goal is to help TRI figure out what sorts of robotic capabilities to make to improve the quality of life for an aging population.
Steffi Paepcke: So you’ve probably heard that the population is aging relatively quickly in the world right now, approximately 8% of the population is 65 and older. By 2050, that’s supposed to double to 16%. And in Japan, this problem is the most pressing. That’s where the population is aging the fastest. Currently about a quarter of the population in Japan is 65 and older. And by 2050, that number is supposed to be one third. If you think about it, that is staggering, it’s one out of three people will be 65 and older in Japan in 2050. So it’s critical that we find solutions also to the shortage, the caregiver shortage.
Steffi Paepcke: The goal is to make robotic capabilities that can support older adults aging in place longer, taking care of tasks they don’t want to do anymore or can no longer perform. And also alleviating some of the sort of day to day tasks that caregivers need to take care of. So alleviating the chore-like tasks so that they can focus on the human to human interactions that really make caregiving what it is. So that’s our main goal as a UX team here and user experience as a field has become a lot more prevalent in tech companies over the years. It took a little while for companies to really understand that UX was a critical part of creating a successful product.
Steffi Paepcke: And it’s been similarly slow now with robotics as more and more robotics companies crop up. Some of them have user experience teams, a lot of them don’t. I think hardware is obviously very challenging and takes longer than software in terms of development process, but it’s really critical that we have UX in the workflow from the very beginning because you can spend a whole lot of time creating a hardware solution and then you get to the point where you realize you were solving the wrong problem or a problem that doesn’t even exist and then you’re really sort of in trouble.
Steffi Paepcke: So I’m going to walk you through some of the methodologies we use to combine user experience with robotics. What you probably have heard of is just interviews and focus groups. So we do those. Those are pretty standard in UX and we also do participatory design sessions, which is when you work with your target population, in our case, older adults, to come up with solutions together. So you’re not just doing the research and then going back to your office and coming up with the solution. You’re actually sitting down with an older adult and designing something together and co-creating it. Another really valuable methodology we use is called contextual inquiry, which is when you follow someone around and observe them doing a task that you want to learn more about without really interrupting, just sort of asking questions so that you understand the process.
Steffi Paepcke: And in our case we wanted to understand the grocery shopping process for older adults. So we followed them, we met them at their house, followed them in their car to the grocery store, did the whole loop around the store, came home, watched them bring the groceries in, put them away. And it was very illuminating. You can see on the bottom there’s one kitchen that we saw, which has pretty much no mess in it. It’s pretty sparse, a lot of cabinetry, really spacious. And then compared to the kitchen above, it was a very small little apartment with items stacked on the walls and the cabinets were very full.
Steffi Paepcke: So it’s important for us as designers to understand the workspace that our robots will be functioning in, but also very important for the engineers to see what sort of dynamic environment their robot needs to be successful in. You can also see the white cabinetry is pretty reflective, which can cause problems for certain sensors on robots. This is all really important information to bring back to the engineering teams and we try to bring at least one engineer with us when we do these visits so that it’s not just us sort of regurgitating what we saw, but really bringing them along for the ride. Another valuable insight we got was the image with the fridge.
Steffi Paepcke: So we opened the fridge and notice that the woman we were chatting with had kept all of her items at the very edge of the shelves. And when we asked her why that was, she said, “Oh yeah, I just can’t bend over and reach in.” And it’s not something that I would have asked about, “How far back do you put your items on the shelf?” But by being there and really observing it firsthand, we’re able to understand that, that’s one of the problems that comes up a lot. And that turned out to be a really big trend. Being able to stoop safely and without pain is something that is challenging for a lot of older adults, which is sort of common sense, but it helps to see this in the context of people’s lives over and over again. It really drives it home.
Steffi Paepcke: Finally, we do a lot of home walkthroughs, which are probably my favorite. We find people who are pretty open to sharing their lives, which not everyone is, but we meet them at their home and we go into every single room in their home and talk about the tasks that they do in their home, the challenges that they face and the goal there is to figure out if there are any things that we can create solutions for to help them. This again, is really good for context setting for us. There’s one, I apologize that it’s so small, but there’s a person, she wheeled an office chair onto her little patio and she weatherproofed it with plastic bags and whenever she needs to reach the hose that’s on the ground to water the plants, she sits on the chair, lowers herself down, reaches for the hose, raises herself back up and does it that way.
Steffi Paepcke: And that’s not ever something I would have thought to ask about. How do you reach the hose on the floor? But we, by being there with her, we got to witness the trouble she goes through, right? To do something as what I would consider simple as picking up a hose. It can be a real challenge for some people. She also is the owner of the closet next to her and she said that anything above about shoulder height she just pretty much consider as lost and she doesn’t ever expect to get to it again. Yeah. So you really learn about the challenges very viscerally that people face. And then finally, I really like the dishwasher down below.
Steffi Paepcke: This was another participant who doesn’t generate enough dirty dishes to need to run the dishwasher. So she stores her plastic bags and her plastic containers up there. And again, she doesn’t use the lower rack because that’s too far down. So we learned a lot about the importance of designing robots that can reach areas that older adults are not able to, or people with different physical abilities. And yeah, so these are some of the methodologies that I think are really critical in getting on the right track to making a robot that actually solves real problems. You can get pretty far with the interviews, but the data is just much richer when you can actually follow people around. And whenever I have a captive audience, I like to make a plug for getting more diverse folks into robotics. Robots are going to be everywhere in our homes, all over.
Steffi Paepcke: We’re going to be riding around in them. And if robots are not designed by a very diverse group of people, they’re not going to serve people equally and fairly. And we’re at the point now in robotics where it’s really starting to pick up. And if we don’t have diverse designers working on these challenges now, it’s going to take a really long time to catch up in the future. So there’s a niche for everyone really in robotics. You can come at it from the law perspective, mechanical software, electrical engineering, design, psychology. There’s so many ways that you can contribute to the robotics field. And if you’re thinking about making a change, I really encourage you to consider the robotics field and just getting involved. It’s a really exciting time to be a part of this industry, and that’s all I got.
Chief of Staff Suzanne Basalla gives a talk on “2020 Olympics Showcases Mobility and Inclusion” at TRI Girl Geek Dinner.
Suzanne Basalla: Good evening everybody. I’m Suzanne Basalla. I’m Chief of Staff here at TRI and I’m going to talk to you about mobility and inclusion and really talk about inclusion from two different lenses. Like the speakers before me, I want to tell you a little bit about my path to TRI, which is a little bit different. I did actually take a fair number of STEM courses when I was in college, but I majored in Asian studies and the reason I had STEM courses is because I joined the Navy right out of college and spent 13 years as an intelligence officer in the Navy. And so I took the engineering and physics classes you need for that.
Suzanne Basalla: And the Navy is what gave me the opportunity to go to Japan. And what you’ll see about my career and what brought me to TRI is I’m very passionate about working with US and Japan, both countries, and bringing the best from both countries to solve problems and the issues that are super important to both of our countries, whether it’s our economy or our national security or issues like that. So the Navy, I was with the Navy in Japan for four years and I really fell in love with Japan. And more importantly, I found my passion, which was to really work at that intersection between the United States and Japan, and committed my career to alliance management, which is really focusing more on the national security side first of the relationship.
Suzanne Basalla: And so through my career I’ve had a chance to work between Japan–Tokyo and Washington, DC, mostly on the relationships. So I had a chance to work for brief time at the White House, worked at the department of defense where I was the Japan director working on our defense relationship. And then I also had a chance to serve as the Senior Advisor to our ambassador in Tokyo. And that was a really pivotal time in my life because I was in Japan on March 11th, 2011, which if you may remember, was the triple disaster of the earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear disaster and was part of the US government’s response on that.
Suzanne Basalla: But I actually then really realized that I wanted to get involved in the nonprofit side of… I’d gotten [inaudible] nonprofit in order to really help the people because fundamentally it’s the people of our two countries that make the relationship strong. So I spent five years as the COO, EVP of a nonprofit, the US-Japan Council. And the bulk of my work that I was doing was helping the next generation for US-Japan relations, particularly a lot of work on women and girls empowerment, which was really exciting for me. Now working in US-Japan relations, Toyota… I, of course, got to know Toyota. Toyota is a global brand.
Suzanne Basalla: If you’re in Japan, Toyota is such a dominant company. There’s even the headquarters is in Toyota City, which gives you a sense of how important Toyota isto Japan. It’s also really important the United States. We have plants in 10 states in this country and many, many jobs are created through Toyota. So when I was invited to come and work at Toyota, at TRI, for me it was a huge opportunity to continue to my work on really solving the most important problems before our countries working in an exciting space of AI and thinking about the important economic and social issues from robotics and automated driving that you heard about earlier tonight.
Suzanne Basalla: So I am Chief of Staff and a lot of people ask me, “What is Chief of Staff?” And I usually tell them that means I’m a Jack of all trades. But today I’m excited to say I’m a Jill of all trades. And so I want to talk to you about two areas that I get to focus on, what my job is to really follow the priorities and strategic issues that are important to my CEO. And the two I want to talk to you about, one is the Olympics. So I hope you all know that the Olympics going to be Tokyo next summer, Tokyo 2020, and Tokyo plans for that to be the most innovative Olympics in the history of the Olympics. You may or may not know that Toyota is the most… The largest sponsor of the Olympics and Paralympics and Special Olympics in history.
Suzanne Basalla: And we’re going to be sponsoring the Olympics all the ways to at least 2024, the Paris Olympics. Here at TRI we’re really privileged because we’re working on a lot of the technology that’s going to be shown in Toyota’s demonstrations at the Olympics. So the bulk of the driving team and much of the robotics team and others in the ops and PR part of TRI are focused on getting ready for Toyota’s presence at the Olympics next year, which is really exciting. My job as Chief of Staff includes kind of helping the leadership team organize across the company so that we are prepared and doing what Toyota needs. And then kind of my sweet spot is engaging with the external stakeholders, especially in Toyota.
Suzanne Basalla: But I also get to work with the Olympic committee. I get to work with other companies that are sponsors, such as Visa or Intel. I also get to work with the broadcasters, and really cool, as occasionally I get to interact with some of the athletes and the Paralympians and they’re super inspiring. Toyota is sponsoring the Olympics because it wants to transform ourselves as a company into a mobility company. And what I’ve been really proud of is, through my work, seeing how much Toyota is using its sponsorship to lift the Paralympics and really focusing on the topic of mobility for all, which aligns with the things you’ve already heard tonight, and accessibility and inclusion.
Suzanne Basalla: The second area that I get to work on is be a champion for diversity and inclusion in the company, which is very important to our CEO. And you heard from Kelly who… Our Executive Vice President. Diversity and inclusion is important throughout the company. It’s not my job to do it. I’m the champion for it within the company, but it’s the responsibility of all the leaders. And you saw that all of our leaders from… Who are here in the headquarters today are here showing their support and that is very typical of the company. But I have the privilege of being the champion for diversity and inclusion in the company, which means I get to be in a lot of different conversations and continue to help us to think about how we can do better and do more.
Suzanne Basalla: Because we want to create as inclusive environment as possible here to attract diversity and get the most out of diversity that’s here. People call employee resource groups different things at different companies. But we at TRI have started three employee resource groups and these are initiated by employees. We’re still a pretty new company. I don’t know if that actually came across in the speeches yet, but we’re pretty new company. We’ve only started our ERG program just a little over a year ago and we’re really excited that we have three employee resource groups already up and running. One is Women and Allies. Yeah. One is LGBTQ, sorry. Plus.
Suzanne Basalla: And then one is Parents, which is our newest ERG and were just started and it’s focusing right now mostly on new parents or parents, young children, but bringing together people who are facing issues as working parents. And so we call these resource groups for a couple of reasons. First of all, they’re a resource for the members of the affinity group that belonged to it. It’s a place for them to get together and share their concerns and work together to find creative ways to address those concerns. They’re also a resource to the TRI leadership, to the CEO and the leadership team because it gives us a way to hear about what are the issues that are important to those communities and they are a resource for the company.
Suzanne Basalla: Because they advance a caring community in a respectful environment in the company, which aligned with the values that Kelly talked about earlier. So hopefully you’ve had a chance to learn about some of the ERGs. If not, ask us more questions. We love to talk about the activities in the ERGs but of course, part of the emphasis we place on diversity is why we’re so pleased to be hosting Girl Geek X tonight. We are so grateful that you’re here tonight. So I want to thank you. I’m going to turn it over, I think to Rita for some final remarks, but thank you very much.
Rita Yau: Thank you. Did all of you guys have a good time tonight? Yeah. Awesome. We again, we are so thankful for Girl Geek. Thank you guys for coming tonight.
Like what you see here? Our mission-aligned Girl Geek X partners are hiring!
- See open jobs at Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and check out open jobs at our trusted partner companies.
- Find more TRI Girl Geek Dinner photos from the event – please tag yourselves!
- Does your company want to sponsor a Girl Geek Dinner in 2020? Talk to us!