Ziming Yang loves breaking things down.
As an analytical lead for Google, the American multi-national tech company that specializes in internet-related services and products, it’s his job to look at data and give it perspective. What information can be gleened, including possible trends?
“The global mission to make the lives of Google users better is a strong motivator for me,” says the former Quilchena Cyclone, a reference to the Richmond elementary school basketball team he played on as a youth.
Born in Japan to Chinese parents, Yang was four when his family emigrated to Canada and settled in Richmond. His dad, an entrepreneur, and mom, a neuroscience researcher at UBC, have been a constant source of inspiration. He tries to emulate their work ethic each day.
“Not necessarily the long hours, but working smart,” he clarifies. “And being humble and always open to new ideas. For example, my mom is passionate about technology and always looking at the latest features and how she can learn from that, and what opportunities there might be. I think that’s where I get my appetite for learning.”
Returning to his home base at Google’s Toronto offices, following the company’s recent Grow with Google tour stop in Surrey at which he was the partners lead, Yang appreciates a career that always challenges him.
“Aside from its core business, working at Google is inspirational on a couple of fronts,” he says. “I think the products Google designs are a benchmark of technology for a lot consumers. And Google is also at the forefront of a lot of health and education technologies, things I am passionate about. A lot of the products we do are exploratory, with potential to help a lot of people, not just the mass market but also an aging population. That’s inspirational to me as well.”
Considering himself to be a late bloomer when it came to basketball—he didn’t start playing until he was in Grade 6—he credits the game with teaching him a lot of life lessons, an important one being how to work effectively with others. While he later transferred to University Hill Secondary School in Vancouver to focus on his academic studies, Yang retained a fondness for Richmond basketball and later coached in the local youth league.
“It was a great volunteer experience,” he says. “I believe in the power of sport, and growing up it helped a lot with making friends and social connections.”
Yang has always had a yearning to help others. For much of his childhood, he wanted to be a lawyer.
“I always thought arguing legal cases would be really cool, but only after I went to university (studying business at Queens) did I realize a capacity to pick up others skills that would make an impact in society.”
Upon graduating from university, Yang worked for nearly two years at a well-known national financial group and looks back at the experience as a good one, helping him develop a solid technical background working with big data. Now approaching his fourth year at Google, he looks forward to each day as an opportunity to grow.
“A lot of people think of Google as a webpage where people search, but it’s a lot more than that,” Yang explains. “I don’t think any company has spent as much time and energy investing in A.I. (artificial intelligence). Think about the potential health care implications. Say doctors would be able to take a picture of someone’s eye and use the scan as a diagnostic tool, and then being able to predict with much stronger accuracy (their health).”
Yang’s day-to-day work at Google includes working with tech companies across Canada, analyzing their data to help them scale their business. The intent, he adds, is also to help those companies prosper in Canada, thus also growing the local workforce.
There may soon be another member of the family working in the field. Yang’s younger brother is in his third year studying business at Queens, with a passion for technology and marketing.
“We joke all the time about the fact he’s following a similar path as me,” Yang says. “He was even in a lot of the same clubs as me back in high school.”