QX: Cecily, as a Stanford MBA candidate of 2013 you surely had a myriad of options. Why have you chosen QX for your summer internship?
Cecily: My authentic interests in people are aligned with QX’s core values. After admitted by Stanford Graduate School of Business, I was lucky to meet many talented and achieved colleagues and Alumni from different industries and encountered all kind of possibilities. All of a sudden, all industries seemed to be interesting to me - Clean tech, technology, Consulting, and Finance. Nevertheless, after acquiring first hand knowledge from colleagues and exploring myself more deeply, I realized that I want to work for a company that will bring me intrinsic value, so that I do not work for money or expectation from the society. I work for idea that I believe it adds value to the world, making people’s lives today better those yesterday.
Selecting and retaining the right people was the biggest challenge that I faced as a young executive in a newly opened branch. QX offers an opportunity that I can see the needs from both demand and supply sides in the human resource market. The multiple roles that QX plays in the market fascinate me. On one hand, QX works as a consultant for recruiters and helps them to select ideal talents. On the other, QX also supports and coaches young professionals to develop their own leadership and professional paths.
Last, I was deeply impressed by the enthusiasm and efforts that Thomas showed during the interview. He came all the way to Palo Alto to interview the candidates. We had a great conversation about the market, the history of QX, and the next stage to where he wants to take QX. His genuine interest in people made me believe that I will learn a lot by working closely with him.
QX: During your internship at QX you will co-create a strategy for our internationalization and direct it to a realizable concept based on strategic planning, marketing, finance and operations. How does this match your background as well as your future goals?
Cecily: My last job was a hotel opening project, and my function in the project involved in strategic planning, marketing, finance and operation. Before coming to Stanford, I worked for a top real estate developer to develop strategies to enter hotel and retail markets. After developing the strategy and successfully acquiring a $143 M loan from 12 banks to finance the project, I led the construction team to partner with 11 consulting groups to open the second largest hotel in Taiwan within two and half years. After the hotel opened, I served as a liaison between hotel management and the owner to make operational decisions on day to day basis, and came up with sales and marketing plan with the Sales team. The hotel was ranked the best Starwood hotel among all Starwood Hotels in Asia Pacific region. I enjoyed the process of starting a new venture from scratch very much.
Going forward, I want to help my previous company to build develop a life style brand in hotel and real estate spectrums, a brand which will be rooted in Taiwan, and expend into the Greater China market. Building a brand requires not only branding concepts, but also a strong team with talented people. That being said, selecting the right people and retaining them are critical in building a strong team and an outstanding brand. Therefore, I see the similarity between QX’s internationalization and my future aspiration. QX has experienced a successful business model in Europe, and the key of internalization will be make QX a well-known brand in Asia and the U.S markets. I deeply believe that QX serves as an important ingredient in the human resources market, and would be thrilled to provide my experience in starting a new venture, and deepen interests in branding to co-create a strategy with the crew.
QX: Is there some crazy project or intention you’d really love to venture one day?
Cecily: Immersed with the spirit of entrepreneurship and the atmosphere of self-exploration at Stanford Graduate School of Business, I had a transformational year. I am truly grateful that I am so privileged to have the opportunity. However, not many young people in Taiwan have the same chance as I do. Since entrepreneurship determines the prosperity of business activities, and self exploration leads to great leadership, I can do something for the environment.
I want the young people in Taiwan and Asia to experience the spirit of Stanford in young age, as to change their mindsets to make academic or career decisions. I do not have direct experience in education, but education will be the key to cultivate the next generation. Several colleagues at Stanford and I started a new venture called “ Asian Academy”. Our mission is to bring what we experienced at Stanford GSB to Asia, starting from China, Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan. The project is still in a very early stage, but we are excited about it, and feel this will be an opportunity to give back what we learned at business school. This will be a separate project I would really want to continue to work on that next year and after graduating.
QX: As your facebook follower we know that you love to travel the world - to what field would you like to dedicate more attention in your private time?
Cecily: A popular Chinese saying goes like this, “Why not travel a thousand miles instead of reading a thousand books.” I enjoy both reading, and traveling, and believe a combination of reading and traveling can fulfill my appetite best. I traveled to six continents and 51 countries in the world, a hobby that was generated by my parents. From time to time, I am obsessed with the feeling of being in a new environment, making new friends, and trying new things. I love to meet smart people who have different perspectives from me, have deep conversation with them, and understand what shaped those perspectives. In addition, I love colors and different shapes. I use them both in matching of my outfit and in interior design for both my house and projects. When I travel, the inputs increase my creativities.
So, I can never quit traveling.
QX: What do you personally affiliate with our three motto words „Inspiring. Authentic. Private“?
Cecily: I believe that QX’s three motto words are the three fundamental elements contributing to great leadership. I want to be the kind of leader who has great impacts on others lives.
To inspire people, we need to be authentic. Someone told me that we may forget every detail about a person, such as how he looks or what he says, but the feeling that he gives us will last forever. I found it very true. The most interesting part about people is that we have feelings, feelings that can be completely irrational and hard to justified. When someone truly believes what he is doing, we can feel it. Being great leaders requires authenticity, which comes from understanding ourselves in a deep level. I don’t think everyone should have the same leadership style, because we are all different human beings. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses is crucial to develop our own leadership style, a way that will take us many years to get where we want to be. Therefore, being authentic to ourselves and to others is the short cut to get there.
To have a long lasting impact on people, we need to be private and personal. The coaching idea in leadership only exists when it is private and personal. With other party’s best interest in mind, we can make a long lasting impact in the coachees’ live. From my past experience, coaching a person demands a lot of energy and it is hard to see immediate results. But the thrilled feelings when I see the coachee’s progress means a lot to me.
QX: Considering the title of our interview series „Vanity of the Month“, please allow me to ask: What is your vanity?
Cecily: Handbags, but not all kinds of bags. I collect the same model of handbags with different colors from a French brand. For a person like me, who likes to try new things, it is hard to believe that I would still love the same model of handbag after so many years, and kept buying the model. This bag has amazingly beautiful colors, and suits me very well. Most important of all, the shape and the color of the bag change depending on who uses it. The company use mineral dyeing technique to dye the leather, so the color changes if the owner uses it differently. No two bags look the same after one year of extensively usage. I am obsessed with the changes of the colors and the personal touch after I use them on a daily basis. The bags seem to have their own characters and lives, which I am also part of the process of creating them. I feel those bags are not merely objects, but they traveled with me to different countries and are emotionally connected with me.