On the Rise: Jane Yi
Development engineer principal | Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. | Age: 39
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the tire industry was working in the Goodyear tire manufacturing plant in China as a process and quality engineer.
What attracted you to the industry?
My background was chemical engineering, which helped me to enter the tire industry. Later I realized how amazingly complex it is to engineer and build a tire, an item we use daily. Goodyear is also a global company which gave me a great opportunity to see very diverse cultures and the chance to meet people from all over the world. Thanks to Goodyear, I had the opportunity to work in three continents: Asia, Europe and now North America, and in many different areas, including R&D, manufacturing, and testing. This gives me a unique perspective to lead strategic cross-functional projects.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
My biggest challenge is from one of my current projects leading material testing globalization. I am tasked to standardize all the material testing lab processes across each region. The challenge is to minimize the impact due to the process change, identify the best test method to fit the business need and reach agreements between people from different regions with different mindsets.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
I have been lucky to meet many great people within Goodyear. One manager I worked with made me realize that it’s okay to dream big and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. This mentality brought me to grow through various roles across many regions.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment is being part of developing a new repair technology for aircraft tires which increased the tire’s ability to be retreaded. Aircraft tires operate at very high speeds and loads. The big technical challenge was to find a method that would make the casing remain in service for more retread cycles. By having a casing last longer, it would reduce scrapped tires and drive better sustainability.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
I’m a lead engineer in the global technical operation teams focusing on compound and reinforcement material testing. My job responsibilities include test development to characterize compound and reinforcement material properties, standardize test methods globally within Goodyear, and testing maintenance and continuous improvement. My team also gives support to our material scientists and compounders on lab scale trials to convert their ideas into a product. This is the birthplace for all compounds that goes into our final product in the market.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
I came into this job with very limited testing experience. I was anxious at first, but later realized that all my previous roles had prepared me for this job despite being in a very different technical area. This is because my knowledge and experience in other areas were just as important to understand how we work as a team between functions. For someone coming into the same role, I would advise them to step out of their comfort zone and try new things especially in the earlier career phase. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, all those experiences and learnings will be very relevant and useful one day.
Tell us about your family.
I have a Goodyear family. My husband also works for Goodyear. He is from the U.S, and I am from China. We met in Luxembourg, and we are now living in Akron, Ohio. Both of us love traveling and hiking. We have a 4-year-old daughter who loves singing and dancing.
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
Spending time with my family after work releases my stress and help me recover from a bad day. I also like to go hiking while listening to music.
Name one thing you wish the average American better understood about the tire industry.
To most people a tire is a commodity. I wish we could all better appreciate all the precise engineering that went into each tire product. It is amazing that even with all the technical work in our team, we are only but a very small part of the overall tire design and manufacturing process.
If you could have lunch with a celebrity, who would it be, and why?
I would have loved to have lunch with Queen Elizabeth II. She endured an enormous amount of pressure as a figurehead of a nation, but at the same time she was able to conduct herself with personality and humor.
Name a talent you wish you had.
I wish I had the talent to easily learn any musical instrument. I never had the opportunity for any formal music training when I was young, so this is especially interesting for me.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Sustainability is a serious and critical matter ahead of us. Designing and building tires with more sustainable material is a step in the right direction which helps to solve this environmental issue. Goodyear has developed a tire with 70% of sustainable material, and we are dedicated to further our technology in this area.
Tell us your biggest pet peeve.
One of my biggest pet peeves is taking half a day to complete a computer update, especially when something is urgently needed.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. The author is a survivor from a World War II concentration camp and a renowned psychologist. It is a remarkable and inspiring story that illustrates the extent of human courage, and that we are capable of choice and change despite enduring the unspeakable horrors that the author went through.
If a tire dealer asked you for advice to find good employees, what would you suggest?
Hire people who are passionate on the work they do and let them do their job. They will naturally become good at it and eventually become brand ambassadors in their professional network. This will attract more good employees to join this team.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I would love to be mentoring or coaching young engineers to guide them through their early careers. I was fortunate to have people do the same for me in my career, and it would be my way to paying it forward and to advance the industry as a whole.