How Did I Get Here?

Thuan Pham

Chief technology officer, Uber
  • Education
  • Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, Md., class of 1986
  • MIT, class of 1990 (B.S.), 1991 (M.S.)
  • Work Experience
  • 1991–94
    Technical staff, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories
  • 1994–95
    Technical staff, Silicon Graphics
  • 1995–99
    Director of engineering, NetGravity
  • 1999–2002
    Vice president for engineering, DoubleClick
  • 2002–04
    VP for engineering, Westbridge Technology
  • 2004–13
    Senior director, VP for engineering, VMware
  • 2013–Present
    Chief technology officer, Uber
  • Life Lessons
  • “It doesn’t matter how smart you are—there are always people smarter than you.”
  • “Push yourself toward new fields and new problems to solve.”
  • “Never allow yourself to be comfortable.”
  • In Saigon (left) with his brother, Phong, circa 1969
  • “I was a refugee from Vietnam. I escaped with my mother and brother in 1979 and bounced around a few refugee camps, then finally arrived in the U.S. in 1980.”
  • “Besides Uber, that year was the best in my career. I haven’t seen a team that talented since.”
  • At the U.S. Open (left) with fellow engineer Michael Hu, 2001
  • “VM’s co-founder, Diane Greene, had worked with me at Silicon Graphics. It felt like a homecoming.”
  • With former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during a visit to Uber, 2015
  • “We rewrote the code for the new rider app. Our engineering teams can now build features that are specialized for each city, which will ultimately give riders a seamless experience from point A to B.”
  • At MIT graduation with his mother, 1991
    “I didn’t know how smart people are until MIT. It made me hopeful about humanity, because I thought, Man, the world needs these smart people to do amazing things.”
  • “I wanted to build software that people use right now, not do research and write papers so that 10 to 20 years later that system might become a reality.”
  • “We were the first company building software to deliver targeted ads.”
  • With NetGravity co-engineering lead John Kalucki, 1996
  • “It’s a highly chaotic, high-pressure environment but also the most fun and fulfilling job I’ve ever had.”
  • With colleagues at San Francisco’s Pride parade, 2015