Female CTOs

Where You Can Be Different

By July 13, 2017 No Comments

It’s July. It’s hot. The State of California is on fire, and climate is changing. You want to turn on your air conditioning and just have one place of comfort, your home, but that dreaded energy bill.

Yoky Matsuoka, our featured CTO of the week, leads the technology at Nest, which has made smart thermostats since 2011. If you aren’t familiar with Nest; it’s a thermostat that learns to program itself based on habits and preferences and ultimately saves energy and therefore money on your electric bill.

Matsuoka was named one of 12 Women CTOs to Watch in 2017 by Hackbright Academy. Before becoming CTO, she was the VP of Technology at Nest Labs from 2010 to 2015. That means she was there when the Nest thermostat launched. She left Nest for a brief time to work at Quanttus and Apple. Maybe you’d even say she flew the nest and is now back, depending on whether you like bad jokes.

Before coming to Nest, she served as Head of Innovation at Google and served as a professor at University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University. Matsuoka holds a Ph.D. and a master’s in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and computer science from University of California, Berkeley. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 2000.

Originally from Japan, Matsuoka was quoted in the  stating, “There is no way I ever could have succeeded in Japan. People there told me, ‘you’ll never fit in, you’re too weird.’ I’ve had universities there tell me, ‘don’t come back.’ It’s difficult for a girl growing up there because you can’t know what is possible. But as soon as I got here [to the United States], I felt something – that here I could be different.”

Thank you Yoky for not giving up in your search for a place where you can be different.