“I am really proud to be a working mom.”
With Yuting Qi, Vice President of Data Science.
Life can get crazy. Trying to juggle everything at once is stressful. But learning how to prioritize tasks can make you a stronger leader at work and a more engaged mom at home.
In the latest Women in Leadership edition, CMT’s VP of Data Science, Yuting Qi, highlights the importance of prioritization and presence. She discusses her passion for real-world impact through technology, empowering her team’s career growth, and successfully balancing motherhood with her full-time role at CMT.
Our interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CMT: Welcome to CMT’s Women in Leadership series, I’m Hayley Curtiss. Through this series, we share real stories as we dive into the challenges, opportunities, and joys of being a leader at CMT.
Data science is core to what we do here, and today I’m excited to sit down with Yuting Qi, our VP of Data Science. Hi Yuting, thanks so much for joining me today. To start off, how did you get to where you are in your career?
Yuting: I love to share this story. When I look back on my whole career, one thing I know for sure is that I have clear career goals. I know what I want to pursue. I think that’s really helped me get to where I am today.
When I was in graduate school, my advisor and I tried to start a startup company based on my Ph.D. work. I remember we spent about six months raising funds and then I graduated and kind of lost hope and patience as a fresh graduate student. I said I was done with this and I deeply regretted it for years. I should have continued. I gave up and found another job at a startup company and I think that seed had been planted in my heart since then.
I really want to see the real-world impact of new technologies, especially research ideas. This is something that really motivates me over the years and I am passionate to make it happen.
CMT: Tell me about your team. How do you lead them and what are your goals?
Yuting: On the CMT data science team, we have 24 very talented intelligent data scientists on the team. I am so proud of this team. They are very intelligent, hard-working, passionate, and collaborative. I am personally really grateful to get to work with them and my leadership principle is that a strong team makes a strong leader.
In the past, I have told the team, “Listen, if there’s no you, there’s no me in this company.” Not a physical me, but a strong leader like me in the company. This team makes me a strong leader for the company. And how do I lead this team? The first principle for me is to trust the team. I think trust is so important. When you trust the team, give them full support, and the stage to maximize their potential, that’s so important to motivate the team members and make them feel like they are trusted.
The second part is I have very high standards. The team knows this. Because that’s how you establish your reputation as an individual and as a team. All the work that comes from the team is solid and high quality and they are proud of it too.
Lastly, because we have very high standards, we try to reward the high performer all the time. I think that’s how you motivate and acknowledge and recognize their contributions and talents. You get them more motivated. And if we identify a team member who needs help to get there, we provide all kinds of support to help them become top performers. That’s how I lead the team.
CMT: Can you talk about your experience being a mom and a full-time employee at CMT?
Yuting: My kids are a little bit older so I make sure they know what things are happening. It’s a lot of planning and organization and reminders. It’s stressful on a daily basis but I wouldn’t say in a negative way. I like pressure, and I like being busy. So, my life is really busy and I’m okay with that. Sometimes during the weekend, I have nothing to do and I kind of panic because I can’t just sit there. It’s not me.
When you really sit back and zoom out from all the daily schedules, this meeting, and coordinating playdates, I am really proud of being a working mom. I am because you can tell your kids, “You need to work hard, you need to do this, you need to be organized,” but working moms show them. You show them that there are 20 things happening today and how you handle those. Don’t get stressed out, this is how you do it.
As a role model, every day you teach your kids without telling them everything. I think that’s one thing I really feel as a working mom. Teaching them how I am organized with myself and handle work and family. I demonstrate to the kids that they can do it by telling them “Momma can do it, you can do it, and this is how you do it.” I have two girls and without telling them “Hey, girls can be awesome and amazing in their careers,” they see that. They see and know they can do that too after seeing it from mommy and mommy’s friends.
CMT: How do you integrate being a mom and a full-time employee at CMT?
Yuting: You have to prioritize everything that’s on your plate when it comes to your kids and work. I have three kids, and there are a lot of things going on and all the parents are so involved. It’s all the sports, the arts, and the music, you have to give up something. You can’t do everything. I mean some moms can, but for me I cannot do everything. We have to make the choices. We have to give up something as a family that we don’t think is as important. Or it’s important but at this time and in this moment we don’t have the time and can make it up in the future.
For example, I had to withdraw my kids from Chinese school because I don’t have time to help them with their Chinese homework. There’s a lot of Chinese homework. So, we had to make that choice.
CMT: What advice for women in the industry who are moms or want to become moms?
Yuting: When you come to work, be 100% focused. When I come to work I barely think of my kids, don’t tell them, haha. When I come to work, I want to focus, I want to finish as much as possible. Then when I go home and am with my kids, I don’t have to worry about work because I’ve already done a lot.
When I’m with my kids, I get to stay with them, hang out with them, or go out and do all kinds of fun activities. When I’m with them, I feel like I am one of them and like I’m a kid again. And life is simple and fun, except I have to pay the bill. It makes them feel like mom is with them and not just that mom is there. I think that’s really important. Kids can feel that. And when I’m with them and 100% engaged, it reduces a lot of the stress and pressure from the day-to-day work and in day-to-day life. I really enjoy that. To all the moms, when you’re with your kids, just enjoy that. Forget about anything else and just stay with your kids and enjoy the moment. It’s precious.