Meet Gary Pacheco, CTO at DarwinAI
We talk about ethical AI, identifying root problems, transparent leadership, and the value in unique perspectives.
Can you tell us about what you do?
I’m the CTO at Darwin AI, which means I oversee R&D, engineering, as well as the professional services arm of the organization that delivers products to customers. At Darwin AI we focus our efforts on the notion of trustworthy AI including inspection processes and quality control. This means the organization deploying AI better understands the decisions made by the AI.
What gives your meaning at work?
On a personal level, family comes first. But in terms of work, I think it's really important to always keep in mind who we are serving, in any given industry, in any given field. What wakes me up every day is: How are we delivering value to our customers? Are we getting better over time? In terms of working with a team, I get meaning out of seeing people succeed. People often try to make those statements sound selfless, but it’s not, it’s a very selfish thing to say. I was somehow involved in helping that person succeed and that brings me a lot of joy. I’m always looking for those opportunities to elevate folks. Sharing my experience with people to unblock them, to nudge them towards success is a great honour.
Is there any other advice, wisdom, a quote, or anything that you feel you really live by as a leader?
[If a problem arises] I check myself by asking: Am I treating symptoms, or am I actually seeking to understand the real problem? This is especially critical when you're leading a team. One of the things that people talk a lot about is unblocking. We want to remove barriers from the team so they can move as quickly as possible. That can be really hard to do. Sometimes there are elephants in the room, or the ominous presence of a real fundamental issue that you don't even know how to tackle.
Yet you know, deep down, that you have to tackle the root of the issue in order to be successful. Sometimes those aren't intuitive. It may not be a technical problem - it might be a market fit problem. In fact, market fit is a really good place to start. Seek those answers first.
Second, try to be as truthful and transparent with your team and your customers. I found a mentor of mine would continuously shock us with how transparent he was with customers. We tend to get into this mindset of “I have this idea, I need to keep it a secret, I have to go stealth mode so nobody steals my idea.” But his tactic was to tell everyone who will listen about it. If someone can steal it, then move on to something else. If everyone hates the idea, understand their reasoning and see if they’re right. You have so much to gain from transparency, and very little to lose.
Any final thoughts?
We often look to get value out of what we do, and value is different for everyone. For some, it’s monetary. For others, it’s experiencing a great exit. But those things can be taken away from you. What can’t be taken away from you is what you learn. What you learn and the knowledge that you accumulate over time, the connections from all the different things that you piece together over time, that’s unique and that’s always yours. No one can take that from you - ever.
The more you put yourself out there, the more you seek to learn about different problem domains, the more you develop a unique perspective on the world. You keep that forever.