Yaoxin Ding
Home Region

Xiamen Fujian, China

Undergrad Education

Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Previous Experience

SDIC Fund Management Co., ZhenFund, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC, Cummins Inc., Robert Bosch LLC

HBS Activities

Co-president, Transportation, Infrastructure, and Logistics Club

“The biggest growth I had as a PM was created by interactions with others.”

Yaoxin Ding was born in a small, underdeveloped town in southeast China. Attracted to mobility technology and driven by a desire to “build out the infrastructure” of towns like his own, he studied traffic and transportation engineering as an undergraduate.

But when he moved to Beijing, he became sick from the city’s endemic air pollution. “That really inspired me to create cleaner cars,” Yaoxin says. “Tailpipe emissions are a major cause of pollution; I wanted to be part of developing a better solution.”

Yaoxin came to the United States to pursue his MS in engineering with the “best automotive program in the world” at the University of Michigan. After graduation, he became the only non-PhD engineer at Cummins, where he worked on efficient gasoline engines for the Chinese market. Two years later, he worked with Fiat Chrysler on hybrid mini-van controls before being promoted to product manager for a self-driving car Fiat was developing in collaboration with Waymo, Alphabet’s auto subsidiary.

“But I felt that as the industry matures,” Yaoxin says, “the next steps involve bigger business challenges: building public acceptance for the technology, creating a viable business model for clean tech.”

Learning that leads to getting more out of life

While serving as a product manager at Fiat, Yaoxin worked closely with colleagues in finance and marketing. “The biggest growth I had as a PM was created by interactions with others,” he says. When he decided to get an MBA to “learn how to commercialize a clean tech product,” he chose HBS for its general management strengths – and its emphasis on communicating with others.

“The case method was very attractive to me,” says Yaoxin. “I want to improve my public speaking skills. More importantly, I want to learn from peers with different backgrounds. We have great discussions inside and outside the classrooms, not just about careers, but about life. What do we really want to get out of life?”

Even as Yaoxin maintains his focus on product management and mobility, he is seizing the unique opportunities offered by HBS to expand his range of experiences. “I’m talking to my professors and advisors at the i-lab to get feedback on my ideas.” One of them involves developing AI-enabled enterprise software for educational institutions to help them “create content better and faster.” A second initiative is about developing a social capital management application “to help us manage our personal networks more effectively.”

In his upcoming EC year, Yaoxin plans on exploring his ideas through an independent project. “In the long term, I want to design great products that have an impact on society.”