It’s Friday guys! Over the weekend you can turn your brain off for a bit, but before you do, have a bit of a think about the hardest thing you have ever done. The biggest change you’ve ever gone through, the most impressive obstacle you’ve had to overcome. Got it? Great.
As a 29 year old Australian living in London, the hardest thing I have ever undertaken was a switch from working in finance to one of more creative, uncertain pursuits. I went from a 9 to 5 job with guaranteed income to spending my days painting, writing, and wondering where my next pay cheque was coming from. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty tough. But it doesn’t even come close to the life of former GeoMagic CEO Ping Fu, an astounding woman who overcame many obstacles to live the elusive American dream.
Ping was born in Nanjing, China, and grew up during the Cultural Revolution. At eight years old she and her four year old sister were separated from their parents, and she had the role of surrogate mother thrust upon her. Ping attributes her successful transition from imprisonment and deportation in China to life as a student in America to this moment in her life, the moment she was thrown into chaos and responsibility at such a young age. Her ability to adapt to change became one of her major strengths.
After completing a master’s degree in computer science, she worked with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) with a focus on computer graphics and visualisation (she helped develop the technology responsible for animating the liquid metal of the T-1000 in Terminator 2).
Ping wanted to turn the research she was doing at NCSA into a business, something the company was unwilling to do at the time. She became frustrated with the inaction, and founded Geomagic in 1997. The idea was for a company that would combine digital technology, including 3D modelling software, with manufacturing. Geomagic produces 3D scanning systems, 3D design software and 3D inspection and metrology software. Ping was CEO until 2013, when she sold her company to 3D Systems Corporation. She became the lead strategy officer and Vice-President of 3D Systems.
Ping has described being a CEO of a company as one of the hardest things she has ever undertaken, because not only was she responsible for her own career, but also for the careers of her employees. This coming from a woman who was imprisoned in China by her own government before being deported to a completely foreign land. As a leader and innovator of business, she also believes it is her responsibility to help others fulfil their own “American Dream”, as she had hers realised.
In addition to founding Geomagic (because apparently being a successful CEO and entrepreneur isn’t enough for her), Ping has served on the U.S. National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship since 2010 and is also a member of the National Council on Women in Technology. This amazing woman has also held a number of advisory roles in relation to technology and entrepreneurship and with charitable organisations.
An inspiration to anyone trying to achieve the American Dream, Ping was given an award in 2012 by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, naming her “Outstanding American by Choice”.
You can find her memoir on Amazon.