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Spotlight on Women Leaders at SAP: Jessie Cai

August 24, 2016 by Susan Galer 78

Jessie Cai, Product Owner at SAP Singapore, has been with the company for eight years. Growing up in rural China with two parents who were engineers working for the government, Cai didn’t have the typical Chinese childhood.

After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Precision Instruments from Tsinghua University in China, she went on to earn her PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the National University of Singapore. Now a project manager at SAP for teams focused on smart customer service and machine learning, Cai considers herself a multitasker par excellence, who is most comfortable and happy when she’s busy.

In this exclusive interview with SAP News, Cai explains why she’s obsessed with machine learning, how “brand-washing” can help the IT industry attract more women, and her greatest career inspirations.

Cai enjoys traveling to places like Austria.

Cai enjoys traveling to places like Austria.

I was attracted to a career in high technology because…

I was surrounded by books and conversation about physics, chemistry, science and engineering. My parents encouraged me to become an engineer or scientist because it’s the best way to contribute by advancing existing technologies or doing something even more revolutionary.

The three most important things that brought me to this point in my career have been…

Curiosity, persistence and professional training. I’ve always shown an intense interest in understanding people, which has helped me assemble dynamic teams. I don’t give up anything easily, making ideation a real strength. I’m also thankful for my educational and professional training which has helped me succeed as a project manager, reducing conflicts and guiding teams.

Working at SAP gives me the freedom to…

Work at the epicenter of IT innovations, moving from process automation to intelligent, self-learning machines that transform industries.

Being a women in a male-dominated field…

Has advantages and disadvantages. I needed to slow down a little when I had children, but women can be better at people skills like resolving conflict and motivating teams.

High technology is an excellent career for young women because…

It offers the flexibility to pursue your passion, and you have the opportunity to change the world significantly.

What excites me most is…

The creation process of every innovation project. I enjoy starting from scratch, drawing it out based on an understanding of customer needs, collecting ideas and producing an execution plan with the right team. It’s exciting to see things fall into place.

caiprototype

Cai won Best Design award for a prototype visualized search tool, Trip Magic, which she and her team submitted to the Changi Airport Hackathon. Her team’s web-based search portal is customizable by users for both mobile devices and PCs.

One of my biggest achievements so far was…

Winning the Best Design award in the Changi Airport Hackathon competition for my team’s prototype visualized search tool, Trip Magic.

The business trend I’m most excited about is…

Cloud-based services. SaaS changes not just coding of enterprise applications but the way business operates, rippling across everything from the platform to data usage and ownership to security.

We can attract more women to high tech industry by…

Brand-washing out the stereotypes associating certain genders with career choices, while spotlighting this sector’s flexibility and good salaries.

I’ve helped women achieve their dreams by…

Paving the ground work for the SAP PhD scholar program locally with Singapore universities, encouraging young people to pursue a doctorate degree in an IT-related field like data science while working for our company. Currently we have 7 women PhD scholars among a total of 15. They are actively contributing to the Machine Learning topics.

The one app I can’t live without is…

WhatsApp because its reminders help keep me on track with task management.

The technology I’m obsessed with right now is…

Machine learning because we’re focused on figuring out how this intelligence will help every line of business including customer service, HR, legal, production, supply chain, sales and operations. The ability to use structured and unstructured data with natural language processing, predictive analytics and bots will change everything.

The most influential role model in my life was…

My first manager who was also my mentor. She’s like a super-woman to me because she was a subject matter expert flying around the world to manage design initiatives, eventually becoming a global leader. Married with children, she demonstrated to me what’s achievable for a woman.

When I’m not working I relax by…

Sketching, watching movies and reading super hero adventure and science fiction novels because I enjoy solving puzzles and always want to explore the future.

Follow me: @smgaler

Top image via Shutterstock. All other images via SAP.

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