Women Leading the Charge in Tech Spotlight Series: Highlighting Christine Byun, Director of Product at Verikai
Meet Christine Byun, the driving force behind Verikai’s innovative product strategy. As the head of our product team, Christine is responsible for leading product development, defining the company’s product vision, and ensuring that our products are meeting the needs of our customers. With a background in product management, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Verikai and is passionate about using technology to solve real-world problems. In this spotlight, we’ll take a closer look at Christine’s background, accomplishments, and insights, and learn more about what drives her to succeed in the fast-paced world of product development.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m currently the Director of Product here at Verikai, where I get to help change the way insurance companies assess risk in a fairer, data-driven way. Prior to this, I led product at Metromile Enterprise, helping carriers modernize and automate their claims processes. I get nerdy about big picture strategy but also enjoy diving into the details of product discovery and design processes. In my personal life, I love seeking out good food and consider myself a serial hobbyist—I like to learn about and explore new things; my most recent endeavor is learning to boat around the Bay Area.
Where did you grow up and where are you currently based?
I grew up in North Carolina and Houston, Texas. I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010 and I currently live in Berkeley, California with my partner and two miniature schnauzers. I love the weather, food, and chill vibes here.
What led you to become a leader in product development and strategies at organizations?
I started out as a product manager when the practice was still in the infancy of being defined. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into at the time! Luckily, the more I learned, the more I realized that product was a great fit for me. I loved the creativity that goes into designing new innovations, the collaboration required with all different aspects of the business, and the sense of reward that comes with solving real-world problems with technology—this is still what I love about this role. As I grew in my career, I began to gravitate towards product strategy and felt that I could help the new generation of product managers with my experiences, which is what led me to where I am now.
What brought you to Verikai?
I was deliberately seeking out a company with two attributes. First, a culture that emphasized diversity and inclusion–something quite different from what you might find in more conventional workplaces. Secondly, I’ve always found joy working on products that make sense of data to make lives/jobs easier. Ultimately, Verikai offered me the opportunity to build data science-based products that help the insurance industry predict risk and provide great customer experiences. Add an amazing culture, and my decision to join was easy. I feel lucky to be amongst such a diverse and talented team that encourages us to show up as our whole selves at work.
What do you enjoy most about being a product leader?
If I had to choose the one thing I enjoy the most, it would be the ability to foster collaboration and teamwork across the organization. In my experience, the best products are those built from the sharing of information and ideas across as many different perspectives as possible. From the users and customers themselves, to the teams selling and implementing the products, to the designers, engineers, and data scientists who leverage technology in the most creative ways — I love guiding cross-functional teams towards that magical product-market fit moment when we create a unique solution that solves the hardest pain points for our customers.
In 2022, women only made up 36% of all director-level positions. What advice can you give young women looking to achieve leadership roles in their careers?
Trust yourself. I wouldn’t be here without amazing mentors who advocated for me along the way, but I’ve also received some terrible advice on how things *should* be done. I learned that there is no one way to do anything and it is important to listen to your gut on what works best for yourself. I used to fight my nature to incorporate the ways conventional male-dominated cultures tend to lead, but it doesn’t work for me or my team, so now I embrace my own way of leading. On a related note, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. When nobody at the director level looks like you, it can be easy to think that you should be conforming to the way others are doing things and therefore keep new ideas hidden. If you’re on a team of mostly men, embrace the fact that you bring a unique voice to the conversation. Your perspective can bring about powerful new changes in product and/or process which were never even considered before.
Let’s end with a fun one, if you could have dinner with 3 people living or not, who would they be and why?
Gosh, this is a hard one. Siddhartha Gautama, Aaron Franklin, and my late father. I imagine an evening full of existential conversation and good food!
To learn more about Christine, connect with her on LinkedIn!