Preceding the news that Ann Arbor-based autonomous shuttle company May Mobility would be receiving a grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the forward-thinking company was already preparing for a future of significant growth. In early 2020, May Mobility enlisted a search firm to identify the right person to help the company grow with intention. That person is Tom Tang — the new vice president of people.
Prior to joining May Mobility, Tom was the head of employee experience at Cruise in San Francisco. “GM (General Motors) had already acquired Cruise prior to me starting at the company and this billion-dollar acquisition fueled a lot of energy around growing the company, building the tech, and getting cars on the road as quickly as possible. I talked with co-founder Dan Kan, about where I could add value and really make an impact — what would help Cruise accomplish their goals. We determined what would really drive that growth was building an amazing place to work and a world-class employee experience.”
With that goal, Tom set out to build the people-centric programs, processes, and systems that fostered a strong sense of community and belonging. “We wanted people who joined us to be their authentic selves, to feel like they were doing their best work, and to make sure they were recognized and rewarded for it.”
Tom found he really enjoyed the work. Over the years, he was able to build up different functions and teams, shaping workplace operations and design, diversity and inclusion, internal communications, employee volunteering, and what would become Cruise’s corporate social responsibility program. “Always at the core of my role was onboarding, learning and development, employee engagement, and scaling cultures. Anything that helped people get excited about our mission, vision, and values.”
After helping Cruise grow the company from 125 employees in 2017 to an impressive 1,900 in only three years, Tom got an unexpected call from an executive recruiter pitching May Mobility.
“When I first looked at the company, everything about May Mobility seemed cool — and then I saw it was in Ann Arbor and thought, ‘There’s no way I’m moving to Michigan,’ but I always like to get to know people. Being a relationship builder and a people person at heart, I figured there was no harm in having a conversation.”
The more Tom learned about May Mobility, the less dismissive he was about a cross-country move. “I learned more about the company, its approach to solving mobility issues through autonomy, and its commitment to its mission of transforming cities. It differed from the robo-taxi space that I was in at Cruise and what you see a lot of other players doing. I agreed to continue the dialog and had additional conversations with the team at May. Ultimately, my conversations with Ed Olson, May Mobility’s co-founder and CEO, about the company’s vision sold me on the move.”
Tom was excited about coming to Ann Arbor before he even scheduled a visit. “Before I committed, I asked lots of questions and everything I heard was immensely positive. It helped that in the Bay Area, there are a lot of University of Michigan graduates, so I was able to learn about Ann Arbor ahead of time. I look forward to getting to know the city firsthand.”
Aside from Ann Arbor being a university town, there were other qualities that appealed to Tom. “I appreciate Ann Arbor’s growing tech scene, that there are diverse food options and great coffee, and easy access to the outdoors — the summers are so beautifully green.”
Now only three weeks into his new role, and as May Mobility prepares to grow its workforce within the upcoming years, Tom is thinking about the full lifecycle of the employee experience — from that initial application and onboarding to additional learning opportunities, growth, and building a supportive team.