Behind the Scenes with Colleen Qiu, Metromile’s New Vice President, Data

Metromile is more than an insurance company: We are a data science company. We believe we can use data and technology to help make being a driver or car owner unexpectedly delightful.

Colleen Qiu has dedicated her career leading analytics, artificial intelligence, and data science teams at some of the largest companies, including Tesla, Poshmark, and Albertsons, to put people first. We are excited Colleen is joining Metromile to help us provide fairer and more personalized insurance to even more drivers.

We asked Colleen what she is most excited about as a new Metromiler, including what’s ahead for Metromile, electric vehicles, and how we’ll get around in the future.

Colleen, what should people know about you?

I am always intrigued by how simple ideas can lead to great products and businesses; for example, the idea of transitioning to sustainable energy led to Tesla’s success today. To turn a simple idea into a great product, however, is not as simple. 

I enjoy being part of a mission-driven team, working hard with focus, and performing with high standards and perseverance. My career is centered around data, which often can help simplify situations and remove subjectivities. 

Separately, my father always encouraged my sister and me not to limit ourselves because of gender. I’ve been advocating for reducing the gender gap in technology and have been a part of the Women in Tesla and Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network at Albertsons employee resource groups. I look forward to similar opportunities at Metromile.

What did you learn from your experience at leading brands, such as Tesla, Albertsons, and Poshmark?

There are common themes despite the industry differences. First, we are at a time when technology is rapidly changing how we live, work, and entertain. Technology now involves more and more data and AI, creating transparency, intelligence, automation, and optimization in almost all business areas. Data can enable us to understand our customers better and guide how we put data to work for them. It’s essential when building robust products and customer experiences

Second, being customer-centric is core to a brand’s long-term success. Tesla relies on word of mouth and customer referral instead of marketing. Albertsons has high standards for minimum “lovable digital products,” and Poshmark is building a loving social community. 

Common in my career is the aim to delight customers and build engaging relationships with customers. The more we do so, the more value customers will have. People want simplified yet personalized experiences.

Why did you decide to join Metromile?

When I turn on the TV, I always see ads from insurance companies. However, as an insurance customer, I haven’t yet experienced any improvements when shopping for insurance policies or taking care of car repairs

The innovation in the insurance industry is at its beginning, and Metromile can be that disrupter. Inevitably, technology and data are keys to success here. I would love to help Metromile reshape the insurance industry.

What are you most excited to work on at Metromile?

I am most excited about working with Metromilers to drive lower costs, build an easier claim process, and make insurance a joyful safety net for drivers. 

AI and data have been the foundation of Metromile. Continuously applying new algorithms on a high-performance data platform to drive growth is exciting.

What opportunities do you see ahead for Metromile?

We are working on lowering costs and building a better customer experience by leveraging technology and data at Metromile. 

When a customer needs insurance, we’ll make it easy and fast to get a policy. When they have an accident, we’ll work hard so that our response will be timely and smooth. We have many opportunities to provide drivers peace of mind after an unfortunate accident and deliver repairs at a lower cost and time without sacrificing our high-quality standards.

Next, we’ll figure out how to cover full self-driving cars and shared car ownership with potentially different pricing models.

What do you think is the future of mobility?

In recent years, clean and sustainable energy has led to better battery technology and the broader adoption of electric vehicles globally. With the development of electric vehicles, autonomous driving is developing incredibly quickly. 

I think we will see a significant increase in passenger trips completed through autonomous driving rather than by humans. Tesla has data showing that autopilot and autonomous driving are often safer than human drivers. 

Technology also makes vehicles more of a moving smart device. Our cars could provide directions, relay messages, play music, or schedule repairs. It can also receive over-the-air software updates to take care of issues at a massive scale in near real-time. 

Driving is becoming environmentally friendlier, safer, and easier. Separately, the rise of the sharing economy and other transportation, such as electric bicycles and scooters, are likely to reduce total driving over time. The COVID-19 pandemic also reduced driving by transitioning many people to work-from-home or flexible work schedules. It changed how we work, and now, a low or no-commute lifestyle is feasible and widely acceptable. I believe all of these changes will further reduce how much we need to drive, making pay-per-mile insurance relevant and helpful for even more drivers.

Most importantly, how do you spend your time?

I enjoy learning about various cultures from different parts of the world through reading, vlogs, and social media. 

As someone who grew up in the East, I am often reminded of the cultural differences, especially whenever I travel back to China. It also reminds me how important diversity and inclusion are and how they can benefit us.

Besides spending time with my family, I also enjoy learning new skills from my kids. In the last year, my son taught me how to skateboard, and my daughter is teaching me a little bit of baking.

Speed round:

Are you a better driver or passenger?

Driver. Driving in my Tesla is easy and fun.

What are you listening to in the car these days?

I listen to Spotify or podcasts. In the morning, I usually listen to Wall Street Breakfast or some Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

Do you have a favorite road trip you like to take?

A road trip in Italy, including the Tuscany region, would be lovely. I have stayed in Florence and traveled around Italy on trains before; it would be a nice area to take a road trip.