Confronting ChallengesZheng Gains Confidence from Working in IT Industry, Fulfilling Personal Goals
Ye Shan April 5, 2017Comments(0) Post Your Comment E-mail Print Save

From a graduate, who had completed a bachelor's degree in computer science in 1995, to the senior director of the technical sales and service department of the Greater China office of Veritas (an international technology company that designs and develops information-management programs for clients, including 86 percent of the Fortune 500 companies), Zheng Xinlei believes it is important to spare no effort in fulfilling the goals she sets for herself. "Sometimes, even though you hold on to the last minute, you still cannot get everything you want. But, during the journey, you are heading toward your goal, and you can always get something useful for your life," Zheng says.

During the 1990s, when the computer science and information technology (IT) industries were beginning to take off in China, very few female Chinese university students were choosing computer science as their major. Zheng, though, was one of those few. "I developed an interest in science when I was young. While I was thinking about what to study for my college education, I decided to choose a major related to science, and a major with great potential for development. Fortunately, it turned out that I made the right decision," Zheng recalls.

New Environment

Zheng is a native of Xiamen, a city in southeastern China's Fujian Province. After she graduated from Xiamen University, in 1995, she worked as an engineer for Xiamen Golden Card Engineering Co., Ltd. During the approximately 18 months when she participated in the development of UnionPay's online services, Zheng met some employees from foreign enterprises. She realized that foreign and State-owned enterprises had different working systems and cultures. She decided to enter "a new environment," in which she would experience the culture of a foreign enterprise. 

Since November 1996, Zheng has worked for several renowned foreign enterprises — including Sun Microsystems, SYMC and EMC — in the IT industry. During the past 20 years, she has witnessed the rapid development of various technologies and services related to the Internet and servers in China. She assumed her post, as senior director, at the Greater China office of Veritas, in June 2016. During a recent interview with Women of China, Zheng said she gained her business confidence during the years she worked in the relatively male-dominated IT industry. 

"Being a confident person is the greatest achievement I have made in my career. Confidence gives me the courage to confront challenges, and to accept different kinds of results — with a peaceful mind. I like to set a goal and make a plan before I start to do something. Whether I eventually succeed or not, I enjoy the process of making an effort while I am heading toward my goal. If you are a confident person, you are likely to influence people around you in a positive way. You will naturally gain support and friendship from them," Zheng says.

Faster, or Further?

Zheng likes outdoor sports, especially running. She has several methods — such as running, cooking and traveling — to escape her work-related pressure.

In May 2011, Zheng took part in a competition, during which participants formed teams to hike across a depopulated area, which extended 112 kilometers, in the desert in Guazhou, in northwestern China's Gansu Province. The annual competition, which lasted four days, was launched in 2006. Zheng competed as a representative of the Nanyang Technological University, from which she graduated in 2008 with a master's degree in business administration. During the competition, participants were required to form teams. Each team was composed of 10 members. "There were two types of teams: 'Challenge teams,' or Group A, whose final scores were recorded, and 'experience teams,' or Group B, who did not have to record their scores … According to the rules, for a team of Group A, the final score of the person who ranked sixth on his/her team would be the final score of that team. So it was important to work with one's teammates during the game," Zheng explains. "The four days of experiences I had in the desert have had an everlasting impact on my life."

After she formed a team with nine other graduates of Nanyang Technological University, Zheng realized each member was participating for his/her own reasons. While Zheng hoped to achieve the best score, some members simply participated for the opportunity to go sightseeing in the desert. 

During the first day, they experienced extremely strong winds. A short time after the team set out, Zheng realized she had walked too fast, and she could not see her team members, who had been left far behind. "I couldn't stop. Once I stopped, the strong winds would easily draw me back," Zheng says. She tried her best to continue walking. To her surprise, she completed the first day of the competition with a good personal score. She ranked fourth among all of the female participants of the "challenge teams."

On the second day, Zheng's teammates suggested she go first, so she could explore the route and hopefully get a good personal score. It was a hot day, with the temperature above 40 C (104 F). 

As she was hiking across a salt marsh, Zheng met four participants from the China Europe International Business School. They were on a team in Group B. The other team's members were surprised when they saw that Zheng was walking alone. They invited her to walk with them. "I was lucky that I met the participants from another school. They told me if I did not drink enough water and eat foods that gave me enough salt, I would probably suffer from sunstroke … If I fainted in the desert, alone, I could easily die in a few hours," Zheng recalls.

The team also invited another participant, from the University of Hong Kong, to walk with them. After they passed the second score point for the second day, they reached a crossroad. They chose one direction and continued walking. However, they soon realized they had strayed from the GPS-directed route. Each refused to walk back to the crossroad to check if they had chosen the wrong direction, so they continued walking, for 10 kilometers, around the sand dunes. Eventually, they found a route that could be identified by GPS. But at that time, they had missed the third score point of that day.

During the competition of each day, there were several points along the route, at which a participant could get his/her score recorded and updated. Zheng and the member of the University of Hong Kong's team parted from the others, and they climbed a sand dune to look for the third score point, so they could get some points for their schools. "Unfortunately, it was not until 4 p.m. that we finally found the right direction to the score point. We had to walk up and down the sand dunes to reach the point. At that time, the sun started to fall. I decided to give up, because I thought it would be too dangerous for me to head to the score point in the darkness. Before I came for the competition, I told my husband and child that I would consider my safety first," Zheng says. 

She felt sad because she had failed to get points for her team on the second day. She cried on her way back to the camp. But, due in part to the high temperature, almost half of the 700 participants, including five members of Zheng's team, quit the competition.

"For all of the participants, they had to confront challenges they may never have encountered during their lives. It was during the four days in the desert that I learned 'if a person wants to go fast, he/she should go alone, but if that person wants to go as far as he/she can reach, it's better to go with his/her team.' That is the reason why I have since attached great importance to building my team and improving the employees' teamwork," Zheng says.

(Executive Editor: SHANE YEE, Women of China English Monthly March 2017 Issue)

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