Luceda People | Ruping: Working towards greater female representation in tech and leadership roles

March 27, 2024 by
Luceda People | Ruping: Working towards greater female representation in tech and leadership roles
Luceda Photonics

In this 'Luceda People Story', Ruping shares her career journey in science and technology that brought her to Luceda Photonics and she highlights the significance of looking beyond gender and focusing on capabilities instead.

Ruping Cao, the General Manager of Luceda China, is dedicated to creating a gender-neutral work environment through nurturing a culture of inclusion, empathy, and open-mindedness. With an empowering leadership approach, she aims to inspire her team and advocate for greater female representation in tech and leadership roles.

At Luceda we’re a small, close-knit team, where we value interpersonal connections. So, let’s get to know the person behind the job!

Can you briefly introduce yourself and your role at Luceda Photonics?
I joined Luceda Photonics in 2016 as a technical engineer. I was also the first female employee. My focus quickly shifted from purely engineering towards business development, particularly in the Chinese market. Given my background and language skills, I’ve played a key role in developing the Asian market. After witnessing significant growth in that region, I spearheaded the establishment of Luceda China and transitioned into the role of General Manager, a position I've held for three years now.

Our office handles sales, marketing, and customer support across China and Asia. Our team comprises a significant number of technical engineers, and interestingly, there are more women than men in our Shanghai office. This diversity extends across various roles, including engineering, marketing, and general operations. I take immense pride in this diversity and the welcoming environment we've cultivated at Luceda China.

Can you describe your journey to becoming the General Manager of Luceda China?
It has been both challenging and rewarding. In a high-tech environment, typically dominated by male leadership, I had to find alternative paths and adopt different leadership models. Initially, people expressed doubts about a woman assuming such a position in a high-tech company. However, I believe that leadership should transcend gender. Starting up a new company in a new country inherently comes with its challenges, particularly in a culturally diverse context. 

How would you define success?
In terms of business development, success means securing new sales orders, forming partnerships, and gaining customer approval. However, leading my team adds another layer of satisfaction. Our technical support engineers, demonstrate a lot of resilience to assist customers under pressure, and often for prolonged efforts with no immediate returns. Having them tell me that they achieved positive outcomes is deeply fulfilling.

What does a successful workday look like for you?
A successful workday at our company is characterized by efficient team collaboration, free from office politics, and a collective focus on the company's growth and objectives. This collaborative spirit makes us stand out from similarly sized companies in our industry. 

What are some notable aspects of your experience working at Luceda Photonics?
Our Belgian office fosters a supportive, and open-minded working environment. Despite being based in China; I've maintained close collaboration with them. Additionally, I've had the opportunity to lead a talented team in Luceda China, driving business growth and ensuring that our offerings, which primarily involve design software automation for photonic chips, meet the needs of our clients effectively.

What major cultural differences have you observed between Belgium and China, given your experience of studying and working in Europe, and frequent visits to the Belgian head office?
Having worked in Europe and returned to China three years ago, I've noticed that China exhibits a rapid pace of change and openness to new ideas, particularly in cities like Shanghai, whereas Belgium often adapts to changes a bit slower. Additionally, there appears to be a higher representation of women in engineering roles in China compared to Belgium. 

Your team has a notably high proportion of female employees. Why do you think that is? 
Despite the technical nature of our product, our company culture is very much human-centric. We prioritize a culture that cares for individuals, fosters respect, encourages autonomy, and promotes a healthy work-life balance. This approach has not only been key to our success but has also attracted a diverse talent pool, including many women. Furthermore, during the hiring process, I establish genuine connections with candidates, by employing an empathetic approach. 

What advice would you give women aspiring to leadership roles?
Be open-minded when observing people and remain conscious of how gender perceptions can influence their dynamics, and actively work towards creating gender-equal work environments. As a female leader in the high-tech software industry, I want to serve as a role model, showcasing opportunities for women in this field.

What ambitions do you have for the coming years?
My goal is to see my team members grow and learn as we continue to see our business expand. I want us to keep up with the fast pace of the tech sector and for everyone to feel like they're really mastering their roles, diving deep into their technical fields. As we expand our business, I want to open new opportunities and horizons for us.

What is your hope for the future?
My hope for the future is to reach a point where gender distinctions are no longer a significant factor in society. I aspire for a world where individuals are judged based on their capacities and capabilities. This includes adopting gender-neutral approaches in hiring practices and team interactions. Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to an environment where our children grow up in a more inclusive and gender-neutral world.

Share this post