Positive Leadership Awards 2023

Positive Leadership Award 2023 is presented to

Phoebe Yao

who has been selected from 7 399 nominations submitted from 18 countries across five continents and recognized as a positive leadership champion, helping people, teams and organizations thrive

Winner’s Best Practice

I believe gratitude and appreciation go a long way in positive leadership. In our team’s AI data labeling work, the devil is truly in the details. The smallest advice, question, or contribution can mean the difference between high-quality data or a failed project. That’s why we believe in giving thanks or kudos to team members for their effort and thoughtfulness, no matter the scope. You can never have enough appreciation.

Quick Facts


Phoebe Yao, 25, is the Founder & CEO of Pareto. She’s received the Thiel Fellowship and Forbes 30 Under 30. Phoebe was born in China before moving to Saint Louis at 5 years old. Her parents sacrificed their careers to give her a shot at the American Dream. When she got to Stanford, she saw how technology could empower people worldwide with economic opportunities and was inspired to study computer science. In 2018, Phoebe took a gap year to study Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at Oxford’s Internet Institute and then worked at Microsoft Research in India. Her experience in Bangalore showed her how online platforms created opportunities for talent in developing economies. Later on, she built tools for crowd work at Stanford’s HCI Lab. In 2020, Phoebe started an online boot camp to train women to be virtual assistants and essentially the right-hand person for entrepreneurs. When the global pandemic hit, she dropped out of school to focus on the company, which was becoming a human-in-the-loop solution that helped hundreds of businesses execute data collection tasks. In 2023, Pareto pivoted to help AI researchers match with deeply vetted teams of labelers. In the past 6 months, Pareto partnered with Character.AI, Imbue, as well as researchers at Stanford and UPenn. Pareto has raised $5.1 million in funding from investors, including MaC Venture Capital, Soma Capital, and Thumbtack founder Jonathan Swanson.

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