fbpx

Spotlight series: Gefei Lu, Senior R&D Manager at Vizrt Group

Gefei Lu, senior R&D manager at Vizrt Group

ARTICLE SUMMARY

At SheCanCode we recently spoke with Gefei Lu, senior R&D manager at Vizrt Group.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE AND WAS IT PLANNED?

I came from the oil and gas industry, but I was looking to change my career and venture somewhere new. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t sustainable and I was conscious of the impact that has. The technology industry has always been interesting to me – how it encourages innovation that makes people’s lives easier and the world better. Because of my interest, leveraging the skills and knowledge I had and applying it to a new industry made sense to me.

Besides, the excitement of doing something new motivated me. When the opportunity came up for my current role, I had enough confidence to know I would be able to handle it, but I was curious about the novelty of it all. I was able to use what I already knew in a completely new field.

I believe the technology world opens opportunities to transfer what you already know because the horizon is so much bigger.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE?

I truly believe technology is the future, and throughout my career, I’ve worked with technology in different capacities. When I got offered the role of Head of Product Development, I accepted it knowing I would enjoy it, but I didn’t know I would enjoy what I do every day. It’s inspiring to be part of a company that makes the impossible, possible.

Most of the key roles in my field have to do with the demand of the times. Nowadays, I see and work with a lot of young people who learn to code early, which is massively important in our field. Coding extends the possibilities for versatile work because it teaches you how to adapt and the discipline needed to grow. Learning the core competency of a product is where you can make inferences, which contributes to the development. That’s a skill needed throughout R&D – and one of the reasons I picked this direction in my career.

DID YOU OR DO YOU NOW HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

One of my previous leaders at work, Lise Monahan, constantly inspired me. She demonstrated steadfast leadership, moving the team forward with a lot of skill, and always thinking about the best ways to achieve our objectives with focus and determination. The way she conducted herself professionally is how I try to do it today. Our work trajectories are kind of similar since she also decided to change directions and start working for the technology industry.

I’m also really inspired by Steve Jobs. Even before I joined Vizrt and was part of a software product company, I enjoy listening to his speeches and interviews. It’s remarkable that after so many years his advice and expertise are still relevant. Just this morning, someone mentioned a quote of his on Twitter, which was: “Start with the customer experience and move backward.” I think this encapsulates was what he was all about. The essence of his work was how he thought of the customer and their experience before anything else. In this industry, we always try to rush into fancy technologies and features but considering what the customer wants and what would make their lives easier, is key.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

I am a brave person. I don’t back away from challenges, and I embrace the new. Transferring from my previous industry into media tech was such a big change – it was unknown territory, and even though I had an interest in technology and had worked with it in different capacities, I still couldn’t be sure of what I was going to step into. I had to trust myself. Leaving after 15 years of working in another sector is quite a transition, and I know a few of my friends and colleagues didn’t understand me. They believed I was dropping big assets, which is probably true. But I followed my gut, and I think ultimately change can be good. I believe part of my success comes from being open-minded.

Something else I am proud of in my career is having built and worked with wonderful teams. Many of the colleagues I have worked with dedicated time and effort to helping their development, grew in their own careers, and now hold very influential roles in their current companies. I’m happy that they themselves became leaders and can carry on mentoring others. I’m very proud of that growth.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD?

I think one of the most fundamental things is to be eager to learn. The framework in technology changes every three years. I was speaking to a female software developer, asking about her previous roles, and she told me that throughout all her projects, she has never had a single moment of repetition. Every time, she learns something new. So, I think having a capability mindset and especially having a passion to learn is fundamental to success in a constantly changing environment.

These days, with all the open source and libraries and other resources on the internet, there are endless opportunities to become familiar with and be committed to that unpredictability in R&D. Because there is so much to learn out there, it’s also important to feel OK with not having full knowledge of everything right away.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED STOPPING YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR TO BE SUPPORTIVE?

I found the tech sector to be quite supportive, which is one of the reasons I was drawn to it as I looked for options in my career shift. People have different philosophies about how to handle change, and this can be different depending on their career stage and personal beliefs. There will be people who embrace changes and encourage them, who try to be leaders in the market – but there will be people who want to go in another direction. However, I believe it’s important to trust your gut, even if you find yourself in situations where you’re going against the grain. If you believe you are doing the right thing, go for it.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

We used to have something called the waterfall methodology, which is a development process that sees phases of a project completely wrapping up before the next one begins – so, flowing like a waterfall. In this framework, you must know everything in the very beginning, so you can plan and design everything with consistency to the end. From the beginning to the end, it’s a months-long project to deliver. For some projects, it can make sense to use that much theory, but these days, the software is adopting an agile methodology and mindset to keep up with dynamic needs.

The agile methodology prioritizes customer needs, which are evolving faster than ever before, and it means we can deliver more. This methodology for software applies to personal development too – it teaches you how to adapt to circumstances and demands, and you learn how to prioritize responding to the moment.

Nobody can exactly know what the future will be – whatever decision is made, there is always a risk. I think part of figuring out how to navigate this is learning how to manage the cost of something going wrong. If I’m anxious or insecure, I try to make the problem smaller and I try to review it like it’s a project. I review the situation, maybe ask for feedback, and re-evaluate. Making an informed decision to move forward is how I manage my anxieties.

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE SCARY. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE WHO MIGHT BE FEELING OVERWHELMED?

The more you move up, the more the To Do List grows, and at a certain point, no matter how long you work, you won’t be able to finish it. When you feel overwhelmed, you need to reflect and prioritize what you want to achieve, and what is your top priority. It might sound old school, but it’s about prioritization for me.

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I sit down, forget about everything, and think: what do I want to achieve? What is the priority in order to achieve that? And I only focus on what that is, and everything else can be fluid. It’s essential to have something to stabilize yourself.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY?

I would encourage them to go for it – go for the role you want, and advocate for yourself and your skills. In the tech industry and the R&D world, there are evidently a lot more men than women, and I think women have a lot to contribute to the future of any industry. The advance in technology in R&D is fascinating and anyone who has an interest in understanding how it works and what can be done should be a part of it.

Another piece of advice I would give, on a personal level, is to prioritize yourself. Women still must take on many roles in life – if they are mothers, daughters, or colleagues, or wives, it’s normal to get used to not thinking of yourself first. It’s important for women to not feel guilty for wanting to build something for themselves. My advice is: go for the career you want and keep up perseverance, drive, and ambition to get there.

RELATED ARTICLES

Meet Annette Breunig, Executive Vice President People & Culture, Körber Supply Chain Software! Annette sits down with us to chat about her career journey into...
Today, we're shining a spotlight on Melanie Martin, Global Head of Marketing at InXpress. Melanie talks us through her tech career journey, walks us through...
Meet Georgia Davey, Integration Technician, at Seaeye, at Saab UK. Georgia talks to us about getting into the tech industry, walks us through an average...
Brooke Grindlinger, Chief Scientific Officer at The New York Academy of Sciences, shares her insights as she navigates the world of science, innovation, and leadership!...

This website stores cookies on your computer. These cookies are used to improve your website and provide more personalized services to you, both on this website and through other media. To find out more about the cookies we use, see our Privacy Policy.