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Aurora welcomes new leads of Global Business Development, Software Engineering, and Finance

Meet our team | October 21, 2020 | 4 min. read

By the Aurora Team

As development and commercialization speed up, executives join from General Motors, Lyft, and Cray Inc.

2020 has been a year none of us expected, but we’re proud of the progress we’ve been able to make. We’re testing our fleet in Texas, expanding to a new Pittsburgh headquarters, and we’re excited to announce we’re now 600 people strong and have hired new senior engineering and business leaders. While developing the best technology safely and quickly is at the core of everything we do, bringing the Aurora Driver to market is also a top priority — first in middle mile trucking applications, then in last-mile goods delivery, and finally, in passenger mobility networks. Our new leaders strengthen our ability to do this:

  • VP of Global Business Development David Maday hails from General Motors and understands how to build long-lasting partnerships and commercialize automotive technology. With 21 years spent in various leadership positions at General Motors, David most recently led Corporate Development and Global M&A activities, helping to transform the company through transactions and building strategic partnerships to progress their efforts in electrification and autonomous driving.

  • SVP of Software Engineering Stathis Papaefstathiou knows how to tackle deeply complex technical problems while also delivering products to market at scale. He has built organizations at companies big and small and brings to Aurora technical depth, particularly around robotics and machine learning, as well as structured thinking and a talent for developing employees and aligning large teams around common goals. Most recently he was the SVP of research and development for Cray Inc., where he led the development of the next-generation exascale class supercomputing line, Shasta. He also spent more than a decade at Microsoft.

  • VP of Finance Richard Tame, who was most recently at Lyft and Facebook, has experience setting up high-growth companies for long-term growth and financial success. He most recently served as Head of Finance at Lyft, where he led finance support for their large Research and Development and Level 5 self-driving divisions. Prior to that he worked at Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Our founders set a foundation of deep expertise at Aurora and as we build the company for the long-term, we continue to develop a deep bench of leaders across our teams. Our new executives join leadership hires from earlier this year and deeply experienced advisors like Gloria Boyland.

Please join us in welcoming our new colleagues! With their help, we’ll continue to move with speed and thoughtfulness as we deliver the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly. Here’s more about David, Stathis, and Richard, and their respective thoughts on Aurora and the industry…

Getting to know David, Stathis, and Richard

What’s your vision for the future of AVs and Aurora’s role in it?

David: Success will still take time, focus, and significant capital, and not every company will survive. Aurora’s platform-agnostic approach means it can serve diverse use cases and partners, positioning us well to succeed. Aurora knows that partnerships aren’t transactions. They are built over time based on trust, respect, and the desire for both parties to succeed.

Stathis: Self-driving technology is a long tail problem — achieving the last 5% of the level of functionality, safety, and cost structure for a viable product might require more effort and innovation than the first 95%. A company can demonstrate progress aggressively but without having the ability to overcome this last 5% barrier if it doesn’t have enough insight into the problems that will become apparent at the end of the journey. Aurora is filled with experienced leaders who understand the level of difficulty and the hidden complexities of the AV space and they have the passion, the strategy, and capability to build the technology and the business for the long run.

Why did you join Aurora?

Stathis: There are very few moonshot projects that have the potential impact of AVs. As a technologist, I am thrilled to work on such hard, interesting, and diverse sets of problems. I was also impressed with the thoughtfulness of Aurora’s approach and its people. It’s one thing to work with smart and capable people, but it’s another to find a company also focused on building a culture of humility, integrity, and diversity.

David: Commercially deploying self-driving technology requires extraordinary technical capability, strong leadership, and a diverse team of accomplished people all working together. Aurora has the team, focus and technical ability to make this happen.

Richard: Aurora is tackling one of the hardest technical challenges of our generation and we’re determined to succeed. That opportunity doesn’t come around very often. I am excited for the day when we ask, “Wow, how did we live before AVs?”

What’s one myth about Aurora you’d like to dispel?

David: Our founders get a lot of the attention, but the strength of the organization is because of the entire team. Aurora is led by accomplished founders, and we will be defined by an accomplished team focused on a singular mission.

What’s one myth about the industry you’d like to dispel?

David: It’s too hard or impossible. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty … I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life.” This isn’t easy, there is no certainty, and it requires a lot of collaboration (technology, partnership, regulatory, etc.). I want to work with others who won’t shy away from a challenge but rather embrace the challenge to realize the benefits.

What Aurora value most resonates with you and why?

Stathis: There are two values that represent two sides of the same coin and are necessary to make Aurora successful. “Set outrageous goals” is a requirement for anybody that is working in this space. This level of ambition must be coupled with “Focus” in order to transition the applied science problems into engineering, product, and business efforts.

Richard: Be reasonable. We invoke this value daily as we make decisions. It provides freedom and space to make decisions, rather than forcing us to waste energy on creating prescriptive rules.

David: Focus. Solving one of the most technically challenging problems requires intense focus. Focus drives creativity and an intense desire to win.

— Building a world-class company while solving very hard technical questions is an awesome experience that can’t be done without stellar talent. We’re hiring across all areas of the company. If you’re excited about what we’re doing, check out our careers page.

the Aurora Team

Delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly.