For the new SVP Finance, Jingjing Xu, strong support and appreciation for the cause and vision of BrightAI drew her to this unique role that combines operations and finance, giving her the chance to influence an emerging company right at the heart of the 4th industrial revolution.
A very experienced, results-driven person, Jingjing never wants to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when good solutions already exist but, at the same time, is ready to innovate to achieve her goals.
What appealed to you about coming to join BrightAI?
I joined BrightAI because I truly believe in the ‘cause’ and the vision of BrightAI. I believe we are in the middle of the 4th industrial revolution, and digitalization of the physical world is the path to the future. BrightAI’s goal is to enable companies to transform, and therefore succeed, in the future of business, and I want to be a part of that effort.
Essentially, AI as a technology is still developing at a very fast pace but, in my opinion, the technology is at a stage where there’s the possibility for a large number of new and powerful applications. Compared to 20 years ago when the cost and the readiness of the technology itself prevented it from being applied across different sectors and different industries, today, we’re ready.
Every field, industry, and company has its own opportunities and challenges, and though BrightAI is not short of challenges, the company sees and embraces great opportunities.
In my mind, we are at the early stage of a curve that’s going to go up at an exponential rate, and I want to join that bandwagon!
Is it challenging working in an evolutionary business? How do you combine the best of traditional business knowledge with a future-facing organization?
As a nascent industry, you don’t have established business models, and product market fit needs to be figured out. In my view, it would be great to take something off the shelf rather than reinventing the wheel, but at the same time, you have to determine how well the existing model actually works. When the existing model doesn’t work for the challenges we’re facing, we must be innovative—not only in a technological sense, but also in a business sense. For example: how we run our company, our organization and culture, and how ready we are to be innovative in every arena of the emerging businesses. If there’s something that already exists that would fit well for what we want to achieve, my preference is not to reinvent the wheel. But, let’s make those decisions wisely and be ready to innovate if required.
Do you have to work around the mindset of clients to educate them about the challenges of the developing nature of AI?
It starts with the prospective customer. Technology can do a lot of great things, but it’s people who apply the technology; so in order to be of help, we must have a lot of respect and understanding of what they do in their industry.
There’s a great team within BrightAI to hold a client’s hand, understand how they carry out their business, what they do, and their business model. That team effort helps the client to see opportunities and how to apply our technology to help them change how they operate their business and improve it, either by improving top-line revenue, or by reducing operating costs and capital expenditure.
In your career so far, what has given you the most satisfaction?
Whenever I can make a difference. It can be building a multibillion-dollar power plant or making a difference in someone’s career. It doesn’t matter to me whether big or small, as long as what I’m doing is making a difference—and for the better, hopefully!
And, by contrast, what is your biggest frustration?
As a results-driven person, I understand the necessity of balancing trade-offs between being efficient and effective. What frustrates me the most is if I’m in a situation where I don’t see either efficiency or effectiveness. For example, it could be in a meeting, and we’re not making any progress. It could be prolonged work hours—sometimes even days—and in circles, and we’re not moving forward.
In technology and finance, have you found it difficult as a woman in what are still male-dominated industries?
I have definitely found myself in a lot of cases being the only woman, so I have experienced saying something in a meeting and five minutes later a male peer will say the same thing, and everyone comes away from the meeting thinking it was his idea! I find it very interesting that if there’s another woman, if there are two of you, it changes the whole dynamic by more than 50%. One more makes such a real difference.
Are there any advantages to being a woman in AI?
In most ways, people in this field, men or women, are quite professional and very competent. In that sense, women are really the same as men. But as a woman, I can often bring more nuance or subtlety to a discussion, helping to avoid making decisions based on too dark a contrast. I can also help lighten any unnecessary intensity, enabling better decision making.
What advice would you give to women going into technology or finance?
The social environment is changing. Women are more valued and encouraged to go into technology and finance, and this is the best time in history to do it, so a woman should not hesitate if that’s what she wants to do.
At the same time—and this does not apply to women only—as a young professional starting out, try to get a mentorship. Connect with a mentor. Find someone you respect (and that works both ways, someone who respects you too). A mentor can be super helpful at the start of a career.
If you were to look back in five years' time, what do you hope to have achieved at BrightAI?
Hopefully, BrightAI will have our own ticker on the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange, and we will be bringing everyone (and their families) to Hawaii for our holiday party! I hope our business is strong in every aspect, our customers are very satisfied, and our team and people are also. And, of course, I hope we’re financially successful. After all, I have to say something financial!
Interested in hearing more from BrightAI’s thought leaders? Discover how our other founders are helping transform multiple industries through next generation AI. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to schedule an interview with any one of our founders, email us at email@example.com.