Career Advice Working Women

Forecast bright for IT boss

Many people in Hong Kong will recognise the face of Wendy Lee, who was once a part-time weather report anchor for TVB, yet few will be aware that she is the Hong Kong and Macau branch manager for Autodesk, a 3D-design, engineering and entertainment-software company that is making waves in the international IT industry.

Lee is also a member of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s election committee (IT sub-sector) and ICT advisory committee, and vice-chairman of the British Computer Society (Hong Kong section) and the Hong Kong Institute of Building Information Modelling. She is also on the executive committee of the Hong Kong Information Technology Joint Council.

After her schooling in Hong Kong, Lee went to high school in the US for a year before moving to Canada. She returned to Hong Kong in 1995 with a degree in electrical and computer engineering.

“My first full-time job was as an electrical engineer for a Tsuen Wan firm specialising in hardware. I soon realised it was not really for me and so I shifted to the software and application side,” Lee says.

She joined Autodesk in 2000 as major account sales manager, serving clients including government departments and architecture firms. She was later appointed regional sales manager (Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), responsible for business development for Autodesk’s regional architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) operations, and media and entertainment solutions.

“It was quite challenging and I had to travel a great deal,” Lee says. “But I gained many opportunities to meet different professionals and business partners in the field, which was very rewarding.”

She was promoted to her current position in 2009 and later also named senior manager of business development for Designed in, AEC China.

“I really do believe that opportunities are for those who are prepared. When opportunities come, you have to look for weaknesses and deal with them,” she says.

Lee started study an MBA in 2009 as she felt her knowledge was insufficient. She is now researching a DBE degree in building information modelling and technology adoption.

Looking ahead, she says: “I really hope that I will always be able to help designers and end users create the things they really want with our latest [applications] technology. It is a pity that although the technology is available here in Hong Kong, it is not being adequately adopted.

“For instance, we brought in applications for green, environmental architecture and buildings nine years ago. But in recent years Singapore, which began using the technology later, is already ahead in certain aspects, and keeps growing.

“By organising more seminars and training campaigns for IT professionals, as well as having students in the pipeline, we hope that the overall standard of the [creative] industry can be raised, and therefore its competitiveness in the region.”

Apart from IT, Lee is also a performance-grade pianist and a member of the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong. She says music plays an important role in keeping her life well balanced.

“I enjoy playing music and jamming with friends as a band. I think it is a very good way to relieve stress. Though I haven’t practised the piano seriously for a long time, I do occasionally do drama and play mini-concerts,” she says.

Lee sees her gender as a plus in a male-dominated profession. “[As a girl] I have certain advantages over men [at work]. Clients and others can always remember me easily. Yet, for the same reason, people could always tell when I was absent from school.”