Ya-Qin Zhang

Ya-Qin Zhang


Former President, Baidu

Dr. Ya-Qin Zhang has been the Chair Professor of AI Science at Tsinghua University, and the founding Dean of Tsinghua Institute for AI Industry Research (AIR) since 2020. He was the President of Baidu Inc (NASDAQ: BIDU) from 2014-2019, driving new technology and business including cloud computing, AI silicon, autonomous driving, and industrial AI, in addition to leading the R&D, marketing, new business investment, government relations and global business operation.

He was a key executive of Microsoft Corporation for 16 years (1998 to 2014), as the Managing Director of Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA), Chairman of Microsoft China, and Corporate Vice President of Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. He founded the Microsoft Asia R&D group, now with over 8000 scientists and engineers for R&D and product development, the largest engineering organization for Microsoft outside of US. He spearheaded the Microsoft Asia Venture accelerator that incubates over 300 companies with over $20B market cap. He was also the key executive in China who structured the business landing to China for Microsoft Azure, Xbox, etc.  Prior to Microsoft, he was as a scientist and technical leader at Sarnoff Corp (now SRI) in Princeton, NJ, and GTE Labs (now Verizon) in Waltham, MA for nearly a decade, making pivotal contributions to video telephony, HDTV, satellite TV, and Internet video coding and communications.

Dr. Zhang is a leading business executive and world-renowned scientist who has made significant contributions to the software, AI and Internet industry. He has authored 12 books, over 500 papers and 60 US patents in digital video, mobile communications, networking and artificial intelligence as one of the most highly-cited scholars in the field (H-index 80+). Many of his technical contributions have become basis for start-up ventures, global standards, and household products. He has been a leader on AI, autonomous driving and cloud computing, serving on the AI council and stewardship board for future mobility at the World Economic Forum, and the Chairman of world’s largest autonomous driving platform: Apollo open industry alliance with over 200 global partners.

Dr. Zhang was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences(AAA&S), Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), US National Academy of Inventors(NAI), and Australia Academy of Engineering (ATSE), for his seminal contributions to the advancement of science, technology and industry.

He became the youngest IEEE Fellow in the organization’s 100+ year history in 1997, and received numerous academic and technology awards, including the IEEE Industrial Pioneer Award, and IEEE Jubilee medal. He was named one of the top 10 CEOs in Asia, CEO of the year, 50 global shapers, and top ten innovators by IT Times, CNBC, Business Week, and Global business. He serves on the Board of Directors of three public companies, and holds board membership and adjunct professorship in eight prestigious universities. Dr. Zhang is an active member of Committee 100 (C100), a non-profit organization to promote cultural exchanges between China and US. He is a frequent speaker at global forums including Davos, APEC and United Nations.

Zhang was admitted to the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in 1978, at 12 years old as the youngest college student in the country, where he received his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering. He received his Doctor of Science in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University, Washington D.C. in 1989. He was honored by the University of Surrey in UK with a Doctorate of the University Honoris Causa in 2020, and honorary Fellow by HKUST in 2012.  He also serves on the advisory boards of global universities including USTC, Tsinghua, HKUST, Cornell, Columbia, and U. of Chicago.

Areas of Expertise

  • Technology

Boards Joined

  • Founding member of UNDP Private Sector Advisory Board/IEEE Fellow

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