TheBridge profile: Justin Erlich

TheBridge profile: Justin Erlich

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Name: Justin Erlich

Current city: San Francisco, CA

Current job: VP of Strategy, Policy & Legal at Voyage

Past job: Head of Policy, Autonomous Vehicles & Urban Aviation at Uber / Special Assistant Attorney General at the California Attorney General’s Office

Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Duboce Park Cafe

Q. Job advice in three words? Hustle, collaborate, learn

Q. How are you (or your company) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech? I am currently working on how we can deploy autonomous vehicle technology to help increase access to mobility in senior communities. To do this right requires collaborating with governments and local residents – both learning more about their perspectives and educating them on our technology and approach.  

Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? The combination of humility + intellectual curiosity.

Q. What can Silicon Valley (innovators) teach DC (regulators)? Silicon Valley can teach DC about the value of quick iteration, pilots, failing fast, understanding exactly why things work (or don’t work), starting with the needs of the customer and building in strong feedback loops.

Q. What can DC (regulators) teach Silicon Valley (innovators)? DC can teach Silicon Valley that society is quite diverse and complicated so determining the right principles and policies that govern products like tech platforms or autonomous vehicles requires a lot of pro-active engagement, dialogue, and balancing competing values.

Q. Favorite under the radar company? I’m really excited about SkyRyse, which is tackling autonomous flying. They’ve got a strong team and a bold vision. Soon enough they will be on the radar (or some new urban aviation air traffic control system)

Q. Describe one way how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your new job. The work of synthesizing lots of research, qualitative interviews, and data analysis into clear, concise and compelling insights while a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Co. has been very useful as I now engage on complex topics with both senior government officials and investors.

Q. Which Member of Congress / regulator is most tech savvy? I'm biased but my former boss - Senator Kamala Harris - is quite tech savvy.

Q. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself in the beginning of your career? Life is pretty path dependent. Developing a clear plan is helpful but be opportunistic and ready to leap at new opportunities if they present themselves.

Q. What's one piece of advice you are still trying to master? Make sure to occasionally unplug and turn-off. The course of human history will not change if those e-mails don’t get responded to immediately.

Q. If you had to live in another city, which would it be? I would move to Oakland where I was born & raised or move back to Brooklyn where I lived before SF.

Justin's profile was featured in #TheBridgeUpdate on Sept 6. Enjoying TheBridge Profiles? Sign up for TheBridge Update.

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