Dr. Heidi Wyle: Serial Tech Entrepreneur
Heidi Wyle is a serial entrepreneur. As the Founder and CEO of Venti Technologies – a leader in autonomous supply chain logistics – she possesses not only a unique blend of impressive business and technology achievements, but also a flair for inspiring and building teams to achieve unprecedented growth.
Having spoken on Women in Autonomy‘s “Seaport Autonomy: The Next Frontier in Logistics Transport” virtual panel, we sat down with Dr. Wyle, who gave us her take on how having a positive attitude and striving for excellence have helped her surmount personal and professional challenges – enriching her life in a multitude of ways.
WIA: Can you give a brief overview of your career?
HW: I joined the biotech industry in its early days after business school and had a great run helping build a company and being part of a meaningful technology wave that improved the health and lives of millions. My husband and I started three companies with successful exits, which was important to me because I grew up in a family of little means and changed my life through education. I served on high profile educational and medical institution boards – these brought me joy.
WIA: What interested you about autonomous vehicle technology?
HW: Autonomy is the great disruptive technology of our lifetime. It will change our lives – every vehicle with wheels, fins or wings will be transformed. Autonomy will bring down industries and build new ones. It will reshape cities. It will give seniors self-actualization and gift more time to commuters. It will reduce transportation costs and bring helpful robots intimately into our lives.
My goal is to build the winning company in this major space that will help our planet and make peoples’ lives better. Venti Technologies’ focus on Supply Chain logistics and safe speed Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) in contained environments will help the planet heal, reduce emissions by two thirds, give animals room to thrive, and clean the air so people can breathe.
WIA: What aspects of your career have been positive/surprising?
HW: I am amazed at the joy I find working with our team – many of whom are MIT-trained. We recruit people who are top in their fields and want to make a difference in the world – every one of our team members has said that to me during the interview. They just light me up.
WIA: What types of challenges have you faced in your career? How have you managed those?
HW: I had ten years of infertility to have my two children. It was brutal with my regularly spending 40 hours per week in doctors’ offices. When those two girls came along, they were every light in the universe. I had to choose how to live my life. When to be with my children, when to work. I work a lot – progress is linear with work – so I had to figure out how to keep my high standards for work while being a great mom.
Each of us has to build our own family based on our own values. What we do with each hour, what our children do with each of their hours, is the rubber-meets-the-road embodiment of our values. It’s important to be clear with ourselves and with our partners so we can instantiate our deepest beliefs into how we build and live in our family. And it’s very hard. We want to do it all. We can’t.
I built priorities – very few of them. 1) Time and thoughtful priorities with my children and husband, 2) Focused time at work with the goal of excellence, 3) Working out 5 days a week, 4) Meaningful off-the-grid vacations, and 5) God.
Looking back, I think hard work goes a long way to building success. I have grit; I don’t give up. Hard work and discipline bring achievement.
WIA: What changes or trends have you noticed in the industry?
HW: Autonomy is a global industry. Asia is moving very fast, and their technology and approaches will give the West a run for its money, even though much of the new technology breakthroughs still come from the US. So, go to the heart of the scrum. See different approaches in different geographies. You will gain broad knowledge that will inform good choices.
WIA: What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter this field?
HW: My advice is to study STEM. It will teach you how to think and give you control over your career and life. We are living in a time of super-fast technology development and disruption. You will see many tech waves over your career – study STEM so you can continue to learn and adapt as tech washes away previous practices. Education is your best weapon towards achieving a long-lasting and self-actualizing career.