At Riffyn, we are proud that our customers see us as scientific partners. That’s because our mission is to help solve their deepest process and data challenges, and to deliver transformative long-term value. That commitment starts with people who care.
In our “Riffyn Spotlights” blog series, we’re giving you the chance to get to know the people of Riffyn that make our mission real. Today, we talk with Director of Marketing Stephanie Yeung about her background in forensic science research, her best tips on working from home, and her past life as CEO of a fashion company. Please note that answers have been edited for clarity.
Q: What is your background — what did you do before joining the Riffyn team?
I did my undergrad in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, cloning plants to study their reproductive system. I became very tired of slow wet lab processes, and that prompted me to look into applying an engineering approach to bioscience tools.
I entered the bioengineering graduate program at Berkeley, and my research focused on using microchip technology for crime scene DNA analysis. When graduation approached, I knew I didn’t want to be doing lab work for the rest of my life; I was more interested in commercialization of technology at that point. So I took some classes offered by the Haas School of Business, and through some of them got to do real-world projects for various companies. That opened the marketing door for me in biotech.
Q: Why did you decide to join Riffyn?
After spending some time working with Bay Area startups, I actually took a break from biotech to start my own fashion business for petite women (I am just under 5’4”). Four years later, I realized that fashion was more of a childhood dream that no longer aligned with my current life values. I thought about why I had wanted to go into science in the first place, which was to help people, and I decided that I wanted to be in software where things could move faster and I could help people sooner.
When I discovered Riffyn, I was super excited. It aligned with my values and where I felt science should go. I connected with [Riffyn CEO] Tim Gardner on LinkedIn in February 2020, and every once in a while I would send him a marketing article I thought would be interesting for Riffyn to adopt for its strategies. He reached out in August when they decided to hire somebody to lead marketing at Riffyn. I went through the interview process along with 70+ other applicants and here I am.
Q: Describe Riffyn in three words.
Humble. Altruistic. Adorkable.
Q: What personal values do you get to fulfill through your work?
I really like to see science advance faster and be less wasteful. That’s the number one frustration that I had as a former scientist. Also better science communication. It’s very frustrating when you know the truth but people articulate it in a crappy way with misleading information. Riffyn addresses both of these problems. That’s what makes it fulfilling for me.
Another huge personal value that I get to fulfill through my work is being part of the Riffyn Diversity program, where I get to voice and contribute ideas to ways we can create an inclusive and diverse culture — from employee education to creating marketing materials that represent different cultural backgrounds and talents. As a woman of color working in tech, this is very important to me.
Q: What part(s) of Riffyn’s culture do you enjoy the most?
I really appreciate people being open, especially being a mother with two young children working from home. I had previously worked at a company where they don't understand what it's like to work with two kids bombing your Zoom meetings. The fact that people can commiserate with you about that dilemma and joke about it is huge to me right now.
Q: Walk me through what a work day looks like for you -- “a day in the life of Stephanie.”
I spend a lot of time thinking about Riffyn customers: what are their wants, their fears, and dreams and hopes, because that is how we can address their personal and business needs. I like to understand and figure out how we can reach them and help them, so I spend a lot of time distilling that information and meeting with colleagues to align with the marketing activities that lead us to solving and winning our customers. I also work closely with our Sales team to identify people and organizations we cannot address so we don’t go knocking on wrongr doors. I am a big believer in planning so I do a lot of planning for Riffyn’s marketing efforts and try to figure out how we can do things in an organized way so that everyone can have more time to execute their work instead of answering emails.
Q: What is your best tip for effectively working from home?
Get up and walk around after each meeting. When I can, I also block off in advance a chunk of time daily to exercise. I look up all of the yoga classes I want to take each day for the week and I block off that time — usually around lunch time — and ask people not to book me then. That said, my co-workers have been very respectful and I almost never have a lunch meeting.
The other tip that has been really helpful is to do a 1-2-3-step closing ritual of my computer, like, “these are the three tasks I do every day before I close up shop.” And that signals your brain, it’s almost like a bedtime routine, but it's for closing down your day at work from your computer. It helps me to be more present at dinner time with my family.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your work?
That biggest lesson I've learned so far is, just because you said it once, do not assume people remember what you said. And then when people don't remember what you said, don't get offended — people are just busy. They have other things going on in their life that I may not know of. So, remind people often and have empathy.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like reading about Buddhist philosophy of how to live your life and understand other people's behavior. I always like to learn about what makes people tick, and about human nature. And I enjoy yoga when I have the actual physical time without my kids interrupting me. They climb on me in the middle of the poses and ask for piggy back rides.
Q: If you could solve one major problem, what would it be and why?
Human trafficking, especially with children. In some of the Southeast Asian countries, girls are less worthy than boys, and some of them are being forced into that line of work, or being sold or being kidnapped. Some of them are as young as five years old; it's just disgusting. I get very agitated by injustice. I think that’s why I gravitated towards my grad school scientific research because it was for an area dealing with justice issues — solving crimes faster. I was really proud that I was able to contribute.
If you're interested in joining a dynamic group of people passionate about helping scientists discover more, please visit our Careers page at riffyn.com/careers or send a letter of inquiry to email@example.com
Embriette is an academic-turned science writer with a passion for spreading responsible science. She holds a PhD in microbiome research from Baylor College of Medicine. After a 4-year post-doc, during which she managed the world's largest citizen science research project (the American Gut Project), Embriette became a full-time science writer and research consultant. You can find her work at riffyn.com, synbiobeta.com, and her personal webpage: drhydenotjekyll.com