Blog Post

5 Questions with Zum’s VP of Engineering, CFO & CPO

Get to know Zum’s recent leadership hires: Jay Kim (CFO), Rohit Jain (CPO) and Shiva Nagabushanaswamy (VP of Engineering) who bring decades of experience in their respective fields.

Find out who enjoys hiking, ramen and soccer and why they are all excited to further accelerate Zum’s mission to modernize student transportation!

5 Questions with Zum’s VP of Engineering, Shiva Nagabushanaswamy

What’s your ideal way to spend your weekends?

Exploring hiking trails locally, spending time with my wife and two mischievous daughters (ages 7 and 2), and hosting friends over for food and board games. I also like to catch up on my favorite sports and TV shows in the quieter moments but the kids usually keep my weekends pretty busy! 

What’s something you saw recently that made you smile?

Whenever my 2 year old sees a school bus, she says it is Zum even when it is not. If I say it is not a Zum bus, she cries! That innocent cry makes me smile thinking about the ambitious goal she is setting for me and Zum to make every school bus a Zum school bus!

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?

I would say: Empathy, Curiosity and Perseverance are the strongest personality traits that helped me to continuously learn and grow as an individual and leader. Empathy: When you have empathy for the people and the team around you, you naturally build a great human connection based on trust. Curiosity: With Curiosity, you will always be in learning mode, allowing you to continuously discover new things to help you make things better than how it was before. Perseverance: Big impacts won’t happen overnight. Controllable and uncontrollable distractions might always interfere with your broader goals. With perseverance, having a sharp view on what long term goal you need to achieve and taking baby steps every day to reach that goal is critical for successfully achieving it. 

What excites you about your role being Zum’s new VP of Engineering?

I like solving real world problems with the infusion of technology & data. Modernizing student transportation by building great, reliable products for parents, children, school districts and drivers is a fulfilling mission. This is a real world problem with real complexities like routing, timely pickup and drop off, vehicle health management and more. We already have a fantastic team working on this mission and I’m privileged to join them to take this to the next level.

Which Zum pillar resonated with you the most? (Flexibility, Equity, Efficiency, Safety, Sustainability and Community)

All six pillars are super important but if I am forced to pick one, I would select safety. My wife often says that when our kids are out it feels like a piece of our heart is beating outside. Every parent wants their child to get to and from school in the safest way possible. It’s a great privilege to be part of Zum to help build products where safety is in the core DNA.

5 Questions with Zum’s Chief Financial Officer, Jay Kim

What’s the most recent book you’ve read?

(Re)Born in the USA by Roger Bennett. It’s a fun read about a well-known British soccer journalist who falls in love with American pop culture and society as a youth before making America his adopted home as an adult. It’s an always-funny, sometimes-poignant reminder of what makes America, with all its imperfections, still a beacon of hope and longing for so many people around the world.

What is your personal mission statement?

To live a life of empathy, compassion, open-mindedness, courage and integrity.

How did your career history help you rise to the Chief Financial Officer position?

I’ve always been a financial professional from the time I graduated from college.  I spent 13 years as an investment banker in the first part of my career, immersed in the world of mergers and acquisitions and capital markets. Then, I am indebted to two people for helping me become a seasoned CFO. My good friend Gideon Yu took a chance on a first-time CFO when he promoted me to the position at Bowers & Wilkins. Later, Eren Bali hired me to be the CFO of Carbon Health, where we had an exciting journey building an important company in the tech-enabled health care space during the most acute health care crisis of our lifetime.

What excites you about your role being Zum’s new Chief Financial Officer?

I’m incredibly excited to work with a great team and to really scale Zum to the next level. This is a company with an important mission, making a meaningful difference in the lives of parents, kids and educators. The market opportunity is massive, and Zum has already demonstrated that its solution and user experience are light years ahead of anything else in the industry. With hard work and skillful execution, there is no reason Zum will not be the most significant company in school transportation and related services. I’m very grateful to be a part of what should be a very exciting journey.

Which Zum pillar resonated with you the most?

Zum’s commitment to equity resonates the most with me. I am learning that, unfortunately, as with so many institutions and aspects of our society and economy, student transportation has historically contributed to hardening and reinforcing the inequality experienced by those with lower incomes, less privilege and/or disadvantaged circumstances. It is inspiring to join a team working to leverage cutting-edge technology and operational know-how to alleviate this historical inequity.

5 Questions with Zum’s Chief Product Officer, Rohit Jain

What was the last photo you took?

Veggie King Ramen dish. It was right after the strenuous 10 mile hike at Black Mountain (near Los Altos, CA). Having hot, yummy Ramen noodles after such a hike is the best thing one can have! If you didn’t photograph it, did you even eat it?

What is your favorite sport and what team are you a super fan of?

Football (or soccer as it is called in the US!) is my favorite sport. My favorite team is Manchester City who were yet again crowned as the English Premier League (EPL) champions this year – go boys in blue! They have now won EPL in four out of the past five seasons. I believe that two of my favorite superstars from the team currently, Pep Guardiola (coach) and Kevin De Bruyne (mid-fielder), are the best the sport has ever produced. 

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far and why?

Completing my last semester of grad school in Fall 2001 to get my master’s degree in just a year and a half. Despite life throwing all kinds of challenges – from family loss, to forced missed classes and more, I was still able to complete all of my grad classes at an accelerated pace. It was tough and required perseverance against those who believed my setbacks meant I couldn’t graduate on time. Looking back, it has shaped me into who I am today – believing anything is possible if you work hard, have determination and fight to problem solve in even the toughest of circumstances. 

What excites you about your role being Zum’s Chief Product Officer?

Since I first learned about Zum, I have been excited about its mission of bringing student transportation into a new era enabling greater safety, sustainability, equity and transparency. I’m honored to have the opportunity to be part of this mission and build products and technology from the ground up that can have a real impact on our kids, communities and the planet. Nothing can be more exciting and humbling for a product person than the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and work to make a lasting impact. 

Which Zum pillar resonated with you the most? (Flexibility, Equity, Efficiency, Safety, Sustainability and Community)

“Community” was Zum’s pillar that resonated with me the best. It unites all of the other pillars together. Ultimately, everything we are doing at Zum – whether it be transporting students safely, saving money with efficiencies, increasing access to reduce inequalities or replacing harmful and polluting diesel buses with electric vehicles to protect the environment for future generations – it is about serving and helping communities to reach their fullest potential now and in the future.