New Board President David Shao shares his background and what he values about Zero Breast Cancer in this Get to Know the Board series interview. He first became involved with Zero Breast Cancer in 2012 and joined the board in 2019.
Q: Could you tell me about your day job?
A: I work as the Director of Marketing Technologies in a workflow automation company called ServiceNow. My team consists of web engineers that build marketing technologies, as well as a number of analysts that work on web analytic and personalization programs. Most of the people are located in the US but we also have a big group in South America and a few in India. My day involves a lot of planning and status calls, and working on martech strategies to achieve our marketing goals.
Q: What motivated you to become a member of the board?
A: It’s important to me because my wife and her family are at high risk of breast cancer. Her mother passing away at a very young age made us realize there's a lot of things that we can do to reduce risk. Changing the way people perceive breast cancer, including making sure they know that men can get breast cancer, is important. A lot of people are very surprised by how much I am into this because I talk about it all day long, but it’s not just for my wife, it's also for me and other men as well.
Q: What does ZBC mean to you?
A: When I first heard about the name, I really liked it because you don’t understand what a lot of organizations do just from the name. With our organization, from the beginning it’s clear it's about zero and that the goal of the organization is more preventive. Zero Breast Cancer means finding a way to help out more people so they don’t have to go through the entire experience of breast cancer.
Q: How has breast cancer touched you personally?
A: Our family has more than one member that has been diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother in law passed away at 51 from the disease. She beat it the first time and then it came back. It was very aggressive so we didn't even have time to say goodbye. That was one of the most painful moments for us. So I am very passionate about this subject and that’s why I want to do whatever I can to help out this board.
Q: What is your favorite ZBC memory?
A: Driving cars is one of my hobbies. One of my friends invited me to a go kart race at Sears Point that Zero Breast Cancer hosted way back in 2012. I joined and we had a lot of fun. There were a lot of discussions about breast cancer during the event. Everybody who loves cars at the event was actually very passionate about the subject. Then I realized, hey, there's a lot that we can do. And now I've been supporting the organization ever since.
My second favorite memory was actually during the pandemic when we had the virtual hike. I tried to remember the regular Dipsea Hike route but turns out it didn’t look as familiar as I expected so we hiked almost eight extra miles completely on the wrong track. That was the healthiest Dipsea Hike for me because we hiked so much longer!
Q: When you talk to friends, family and colleagues about ZBC, what are the three most important things you want them to take away from the conversation?
A: You can never help enough in life. Someone might say that they already donate to the organization, but there is always more you can do. There’s not enough knowledge that people understand, me included. We have a very good staff and passionate board but there’s always more we can do. We can always use more funds, more people, more support. That’s always one of the things I tell people. It doesn’t matter what else you are involved in, we need you here. And the other part is that people can be surprised that I am involved in breast cancer, so I help people understand why it’s important to me. My mother in law’s story frequently comes up. My mother has also had a scare in her life, though thank God she didn’t have it. I also let people know how important risk reduction is so fewer people have to live through the pain of breast cancer.
Q: What are your hopes for the organization?
A: I want to help the organization be known even more throughout the Bay Area and beyond. We have an international reach, but I want everybody to be more aware about us. We have a lot of digital content and I would like to help us to create more.
Q: How do you support the mission of ZBC?
A: By talking to everyone I can about ZBC. I use my network and my social reach to make sure people know the organization exists and the important message of prevention. I use my skill in technology and digital marketing as well as leveraging my social influence to help push ZBC to another step forward.
Q: What is one surprising or fun fact about you that our readers might not know?
A: One thing I love doing is fabrication, like metal work, welding and plasma cutting etc. Funny, I hate getting dirty, so I'm always working wearing nice clean clothes, which always frustrates my family. I destroy so many nice pants and shirts because I don't like to change into work clothes in case I get oily. Close friends at the racetrack call me “doctor” because if something were to be broken, they think “David can always fabricate something on the spot and get us back on track.”
Interview conducted and written-up by Lianna Hartmour, ZBC Program Director