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Women’s History Month: Rachel Yip

This March, we celebrate National Women’s History Month, and we are proud to highlight the women on our team who are leading at Pronto and in their communities.

Rachel Yip is our Engineering Project Manager, leading our team to make sure operations and engineering are running smoothly on all our various projects.

How did you get into this role?

I was previously at Neuralink as an engineer project manager working on BMI’s (brain machine interfaces), and generally like working with teams that use robotics to solve interesting and pragmatic problems.  My entire career has been working at startups with really agile/nimble teams (which is what I love!), and Pronto had an opportunity to be the first engineering project manager to support the team in building autonomy for a real-world application.

The problem is interesting; the team is a lot of fun to work with, and being able to define what project management looks like on a daily basis is what makes the role exciting. 

What is a typical day like for you? 

No two days are the same, which is the best part!  But generally, I’m running in the background to make sure operations and engineering are running smoothly on all our various projects.  On some days, I’m out in the field making sure deployment is going smoothly (typically in the early stages); on other days, I’m meeting with external stakeholders to clarify engineering deliverables, and on the same day, I’ll be chatting with engineers about those deliverables, and timelines.  In between that, I may be on a call with a vendor, servicing member, or some random guy in Brazil who can transport something for us at the last minute.  I often liken it to being an air traffic controller, reshuffling resources to help make sure we meet engineering timelines/deliverables.

What excites you about working at Pronto? 

Getting to show up to work on interesting problems with an incredible team and having the opportunity to learn every day.  It’s equal parts challenging and fun!  

What keeps you excited and busy outside of work? 

I’m typically working towards my private pilot certification, backpacking/camping somewhere, most likely in Northern California, going to a yoga class at my favorite studio in the city HAUM or volunteering as a hotline counsellor at San Francisco Suicide Prevention.  And in between all of that, I love film photography, and combining that with travel.  Next up is Morocco! 

Could you share a story about a woman who helped you as a leader or mentor and what she meant for your career today? 

Too many to count!  I would say my first woman computer science professor who showed me that women could pursue technical research.  To every upper-year woman engineer in college who encouraged me to pursue growth and resilience over perfection when I struggled through a hard course (PHYS 1004 – I’m looking at you).  To my boss, now a friend Kelsey who is pursuing her PhD at Oxford and worked at NASA/JPL, who showed me that anything is possible when you work for it, and you can do it all in a pink suit. To every woman engineer, I’ve met since, specifically at Neuralink.  And to legends like Margaret Hamilton and Katherine Johnson, we stand on their shoulders.  Knowing what they’ve all done reminds me what I can do.