SVBE welcomes its General Manager, Andrew Yee
Father, husband, engineer, businessman, certified bike nut?
Take your pick, he is all of the above and as of now, he is the new General Manager for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Exchange. I had the opportunity to sit down with him today and dig into what makes him tick and how he is going to assist us in making our program even more successful.
Andrew grew up outside Reading, Pennsylvania. He was into bikes in a big way, encouraged by his father who was an avid cyclist and racer and who introduced him to the sport. As a child, he raced on the road and velodrome. He discovered mountain biking in middle school, and cyclocross in college, a discipline he is active in to this day.
At age 11 his family moved to Honolulu, Oahu, where his parents and grandparents were born and raised. He stayed there through high school and then was accepted to Tufts University where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Environmental Studies. He stayed in Boston for the next 6 years, working for an environmental consulting firm. In 2001 he came out to UC Berkeley for a Master's in Business Administration degree, and has made the Bay Area his home ever since.
In Silicon Valley he has worked as a Product Manager, working to make products a success, grow the user base, retain users, and increase profitability.
In 2007 he founded Cyclocross Magazine, building on his interest and participation in the sport. He is still the owner, but not involved in its day-to-day operation.
He heard of the Bike Exchange about four years ago, attended our sales, and has volunteered with us. Earlier this summer, when he was looking to donate some bikes, he found out we were looking to hire a General Manager and contacted Dave Fork. After many interesting conversations and considerable consideration by the board members, he was offered the job.
So I asked him point-blank “Why do you want this job”?
Andrew’s response was that there are two core things that motivate him: making a difference, and bikes.
Asked what he thinks we do here he replied, “Using bikes for good. Providing transportation for people who need it, an educational tool for volunteers, promoting them for environmental purposes, and for community building.”
“So what do you think will change now that you’re here?”
“The first thing I am going to do is listen and learn from you guys, then I want to help the organization plan for its future and specifically achieve security in our finances and with our facility. A couple of specific goals are to pursue grant opportunities and possibly consider opening a community bike shop”.
“And why do you think you are qualified to carry out our mission?” I asked.
“I have a good background for this type of work. I have a master's degree in business with a focus on social enterprise, founded and ran my own company, am a journalist with writing skills, and have experience working with nonprofits.”
As we sat talking, Andrew expressed his admiration for the success we have had. He emphasized that a major goal of his was to not diminish the satisfaction our members get from volunteering but rather to enhance it and to help us achieve an even greater impact from our efforts.
He would like to reduce the frustration some of us feel at times by reviewing our processes in the shop and trying to increase efficiency. One thought was to do some triage at the front desk when people bring in donation bikes, seeking to identify the major problems likely to be found and noting them with the goal of saving the more complex repairs for more skilled volunteers and steering novices to the bikes with simpler problems.
He reiterated that his main goal is to keep the Bicycle Exchange doing good for the community for years to come. Any changes that may come along will have that goal in mind and the board of directors will be involved in all major decisions.