Yfei Zhao first encountered drones in the film industry. Now the company she founded is exploring new industrial applications for UAV.
Tell us about yourself and your background
Prior to founding AlteX UAV Technologies, I spent 7 years in film production and 3 years running aerial operations at the Non-titled Film Group NTFG. My specialty was in project management and remote location filming.
How did you get started in the drone industry?
The company I worked for filmed Newfoundland tourism commercial which hired a drone team. I got introduced to the technology at first hand and believed this is the way we want to film.
Tell us about your organization and your role there.
While transitioning from film production to aerial operations, and finally UAV solutions, I find myself driven by the same result-oriented process. At AlteX, I lead my team to understand UAV end-user’s goal, establish a feasible plan for our clients, and work with them to achieve satisfactory results.
What do you like most about being in the UAV industry?
That a new industry is like unexplored territory. We are constantly discovering, building, facing challenges and overcoming them.
What’s your favorite type of project and why?
When I started in drone industry, I loved the specialty type of film projects. Large film sets with 50+ crew members, lots of planning, coordination and no tolerance for margin of error. We filming at downtown core with street closure, also filmed on a Tesla commercial with highway shots. They were challenging and rewarding. After 6 years being in the industry, now I find myself more interested in drone applications that help people rather than just entertaining. Insurance inspection right now is my favorite as insurance adjusters use drone to speed up claims process, helping homeowners to get their claims money 3 times faster than traditional method. I’m sure as the industry continues to develop; I will discover more favorites along the way!
Do you have a success story you would like to share?
Our biggest success so far is able to help more drone operators succeed through our training program. We designed our program with 1 goal in mind: to ensure the success of our students through Safe, Efficient, and Effective operations. We have also implemented modern technology in training to allow students to learn from anywhere and still maintain live interaction with the class.
What excites you most about the potential for women in the industry?
Many aviation professionals told me that women are better pilots. I’d like to see more women pilots in drone industry.
What’s your current favorite drone to fly?
I can’t decide between Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro.
What You’ve Learned:
What has been your most significant “lightbulb” moment since you entered the industry?
When National Research Council hired us for a research project to find a solution in Hydro Tower inspection using a drone. It opened door for us in industrial drone applications.
What have you learned you wish you had known when you got started?
There are so many “If only I knew then what I know now.”… Just part of the process of being in a new industry. I haven’t paid too much attention to which is the most memorable.
Is there a tip you learned you would like to share with other women in the industry?
Not sure if this is a tip, maybe just a personal preference: Never stop exploring! The possibilities are infinite!
What’s the best way for W&D readers to connect with you?
Yifei Zhao, Operations Director from AlteX UAV Technologies. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Final Word:
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Women and Drones Community?
Find something you love to do and thrive on doing it well!