Why I Joined Cruise

Eight months ago, I joined Cruise, a self-driving car company after working at Google for 7 years. Here’s my story about why I decided to join Cruise.

Sabrina Billinghurst
3 min readJun 1, 2022

Honestly, I was unsure about Cruise. I’ve said many times that I’d never work for a startup. I’ve worked at large organizations for most of my career because I wanted the job security that often comes with big companies (Millennials can relate).

I also enjoyed my job at Google. In my previous job, I worked on solutions that would let people access their phones while driving without compromising safety. I did research using eye trackers and driving simulators and collaborated with great designers. I loved working in automotive because it balanced solving challenging research problems, great design, and new technology.

This is why I had been watching Cruise over the years. It was a company within the automotive field, but they used advanced self-driving car technology, more advanced than what I was previously working on. I felt that Cruise was close to making the technology a reality because I saw their cars drive in many different neighborhoods in San Francisco.

But, I had heard bad stories about startups–everything from working non-stop, having immature management and running out of funding. Even though I had my hesitations, I decided to take the leap and interviewed for a UX research role at Cruise.

Once I started to chat with people on the team I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t believe that there were so many women of color in leadership positions. I had never seen that before in a tech company. I was on teams in the past where I worked with many women, but they were absent at higher levels. This gave me confidence that I could progress my career at Cruise without questioning whether my identity would make it possible.

Everyone I met at Cruise was so happy and passionate about the mission to make self-driving cars a reality. And the team was humble, too. They were honest that people tended to work a lot, but it was because they were so enthusiastic about the work they were doing. They encouraged people to set their own boundaries by saying no, setting work hours, and creating blocks for focus time. They didn’t want people to burn out and neither did I.

Through my chats with the team, I started to see that the company matched my values. I appreciated that Cruise aims to lessen our impact on the environment with an all-electric fleet, and they value inclusivity by making transportation accessible with rideshare. These are things that are important to me so I decided to take the offer.

Collaborating with the UX team while designing the new Origin Experience

Now, 8 months in, I’m still happy about my decision. While I’ve been at Cruise, we’ve launched driverless rides in San Francisco to the public. I get to work on hardware in addition to software in the new Origin vehicles to define the delivery and ride hail experiences. I can’t wait for my work to influence how people will get from point A to B. All of this empowers me to do my best work. I believe that my career can grow here.



Sabrina Billinghurst

Senior UX Researcher at Cruise. Previously at Google & NASA. I love my dog, being in nature, and creating things with my hands.