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She Makes the Impossible Possible

Thursday, November 22, 2018

At X, Ashley Hu (JD 2007) applies her tech and legal skills to solve unprecedented challenges 

By Carren Jao 

Ashley Hu (JD 2007)
As senior counsel for the Alphabet company's Moonshot Factory, also called X, Ashley Hu's (JD '07) job is to help make the impossible possible. "[Working here is a] constant reminder that things that seem like science fiction today could very well be a reality tomorrow," says Hu. 
 
Some of X’s out-of-this-world ideas include expanding Internet connectivity to rural and disaster-hit areas via a network of balloons at the edge of space, building the Pony Express of tomorrow using autonomous delivery drones, and generating electricity through the use of kites. X counts self-driving car company Waymo as one of its most prominent projects.
 
“I feel very lucky to be a part of this place. Every day I work with scientists and engineers to help make their radical ideas possible,” says Hu, who studied electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley.
 
The problems the X team takes on are usually novel and complex, a situation that Hu relishes. “I’m someone who really likes to tackle problems and solve them. Figuring out new ways to solve challenges and finding solutions are really rewarding to me. When you are working on complex projects, like how to launch a balloon-based Internet service, there is no template or precedent for that, so you just have to dive in and figure it out.”
 
Hu first got into technology as an associate at Wilson Sonsini’s technology transactions department. There, she worked on a number of Google matters with a few Google attorneys and found the company’s teams to be wonderful to work with. When she was contacted by a Google recruiter, she jumped at the opportunity. She spent three years at Google before spotting an opening at X’s legal team. Hu says, “I had always wanted to work at X, so I was thrilled when I got the role.”
 
Hu credits her Gould education for honing her skills. “There was an emphasis on learning how to be critical and spot issues, to try to look at things from different points of view, and to be creative in proposing arguments or presenting various perspectives. I practice those skills every day,” says Hu.
 
At Gould, she also met her husband, An-Yen Hu (JD 2007), who is a partner at Goodwin Procter. Though taking one’s work home can be taxing, Hu says marrying someone who also works in the legal field is a blessing. “It has been fun sharing this experience together — from being in law school to studying for the bar, moving to the Bay Area and working at law firms, and now to being parents and raising our girls.”
 
Though Hu’s work has her thinking about the future, her attention is on the now. “I’m happy where I am,” says the mother of two daughters, ages 5 and 3. “It’s cheesy, but I’m focused on being as present as I can be, day by day, at work and at home.”
 
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of the USC Law magazine.
Photo: Brett Van Ort

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