Willing to take a risk
Chiny Moon Driscoll (FIN’91) decided to strike out on her own after working her way up to a high-level executive management position at IBM. “IBM was very good to me,” she says. “They asked me to run their big data practice globally for part of their software group. I was in charge of delivering solutions and services for all of their big data-related products.”
But she decided it was time for a change. “I realized that being an executive in such a large organization was too stifling,” Driscoll says. “It didn’t give me enough flexibility to drive the business and institute change the way I wanted to.”
Friends had told her for years that she should go into business for herself. “I’d say, ‘Why? I have a great job and do some challenging work.’ But I realized it was time to break out of my executive shell and really put myself out there. I wanted to prove to myself that there are different things I can do and force myself not to get too comfortable.”
Throughout Driscoll’s varied career, which included positions at global enterprise software companies such as Netezza and TIBCO Software, she’d always had the support and resources of large corporations and organizations. “I’d never started anything from ground zero, just relying on my own perspective where it’s literally just all me,” she says. “As scary as that was, I found it to be very exciting as well.”
She launched MetiStream in 2014. The company helps customers gain better insight and make better decisions through the use of analytics and big data technologies.
Being CEO of her own company has been harder and more challenging than she thought, says Driscoll, but she has no regrets. “I would always tell people you’ve got to take risks and put yourself out there,” she says. “I wanted to make sure I’m doing the same thing. It’s been a crazy ride ever since. I feel like I’ve done more in my last two years than I did in five years combined working at other companies.”
Mentoring and teaching
The launch of her own business also resulted in her greater involvement with the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which also made her feel as though she had something of value to share with students. “I can really relay to them what it means to be an entrepreneur,” she says. “Mentoring others, sharing insights, and providing guidance is very important to me.”
She participated in the center’s Entrepreneur in Residence program last spring. “It was extremely rewarding. I loved being on site with students. Their search for knowledge and desire to share experiences were very impactful,” she says.
In addition to mentoring students, her activities with the university now include serving on the advisory board for its master of information technology program and on the Founders’ Circle of the Apex Systems Center.
Driscoll feels that, as an alumna, she had not been as active as she would have liked in the past. “I think Tech graduates have tremendous pride, and we love the school,” she says. “But sometimes you don’t know how to get involved, then years go by. I kept saying I was going to give back, but it wasn’t until the last year and a half or so that I got more involved. It occurred to me that, if we really want to make a difference at Tech and make it one of the best colleges in the country, we all have to chip in.”
Professional and personal growth
While serving as entrepreneur in residence, she met marketing student Rachel Phandinh and eventually brought her on as a summer intern. “We really wanted her to see what it means to be part of a small start-up and give her experiences beyond the classroom,” Driscoll says.
She put Phandinh in charge of redesigning MetiStream’s website. “We involved her in a whole set of discussions and strategy sessions from the company’s overall message in the marketplace to the core values. We really embraced her in the process.”
Phandinh, student director of marketing for the Innovate living-learning community, was impressed by the level of responsibility Driscoll gave her during her internship. “I hadn’t even finished my freshman year of college or turned 19,” Phandinh says. “It said a lot about her. She put a lot of faith in me as an individual and trust in the Innovate program.”
Driscoll, who was born in South Korea and moved to the United States when she was 5, has been married for 20 years to Eric Driscoll. They have two children, ages 6 and 15.
In her younger days, she thought having it all was easy. “I was very arrogant,” she says, with a laugh.
“It’s not that you can’t have it all, but it’s a juggling act. And whenever you juggle, something comes to the bottom, and then you have to juggle it back up to the top. You have to prioritize things on an ongoing basis. As a woman, a mother, and a wife, I believe you can be successful in how you approach and balance things. You just have to adapt and always keep moving forward.”