We frequently hear of the success stories about technology professionals who started in their garage, without a college degree (or high school diploma). Rarely do we hear about a story like this one from Pirates to MIT to Silicon Valley, this Uber man is living the American Dream.
How this Vietnamese refugee became Uber’s CTO
by Octavio Blanco @CNNMoney August 12, 2016: 7:32 AM ET
By the time Thuan Pham was just 12 years old, he had already had several brushes with death.
While escaping Vietnam with his mother and younger brother in 1979, a violent storm battered the dinky, wooden fishing boat carrying the family and dozens of other refugees. Pirates later robbed them. And once they landed at a refugee camp in Indonesia, they lacked shelter and sanitation for weeks.
“My mother decided that it was better to risk our lives…rather than grow up without opportunities for a better life,” Pham said. “That’s what you do as an immigrant: You are willing to trade your life for freedom. Sometimes you get lucky and you get to live.”
Fortunately, Pham’s family got lucky. And they eventually landed in suburban Maryland.
Pham worked hard in school, fell in love with computers and gained admission into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied computer science.
After graduation, he headed to Silicon Valley and became an integral part of the tech industry’s transformation.
In 2013, he was hired as Uber’s chief technology officer. Since that time, Pham, now 49, has built Uber’s engineering group from 40 engineers to more than 2,000. The company’s technology has gone from handling 30,000 trips a day to millions.
In addition, Pham was recently named one of 40 Great Immigrants of 2016 by the Carnegie Corporation, the nation’s oldest grant making foundation.
Here is Pham’s American Success Story.
What was life like as a child in Vietnam?
When Saigon fell in April of 1975 we lived through four years of Communism. My uncles were sent to a concentration camp and they died there.
My mom, younger brother and I left in the middle of the night. We crammed about 470 people on a dinky, wooden fishing boat — the MT-2377. As we set out, everyone was throwing up.