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Making Long-term Investments for the Future in Physical and Virtual Worlds: Dr. Ling Ge, General Manager of CDG and Chief European Representative

In celebration of International Women’s Day we are publishing a special series, “Women Who Lead,” to give female leaders at Tencent the opportunity to share their stories and reflect on their career and life.

Smart, talented, and driven: Dr. Ling Ge is the perfect embodiment of the #WomenWhoLead values we’d like to celebrate at Tencent this year.

As the Chief European Representative, she leads the company’s investment and partnership efforts in Europe and works with technology startups, universities and other industry stakeholders.

Jumping from her role as a researcher to a general manager at Tencent, Dr. Ling Ge has gathered a wealth of experience and milestones.

The following conversation has been condensed and edited.

Q: You have been leading Tencent’s investment efforts in quantum computing. How did it all start?

A: I started my career as a research fellow at Oxford and Imperial College with a special interest in quantum computing. In 2017, I joined Tencent to drive the company’s efforts in quantum computing and deep tech investments.

I was initially nervous about switching from academia to a corporate environment. But I found the leadership at Tencent to be “scholarly” and take research-driven approach in its businesses. There’s a very strong R&D philosophy behind everything that we do, so I have always felt welcomed.

From 2018, Tencent began to make some more high-level strategic investments in quantum computing, which is the next-generation technology that will make computing extremely fast and maximize our capability in needs a space in between materials design and drug discovery. We want to ensure that we can support companies that are pushing the boundaries of technology, in line with our “Tech for Good” mantra.

Q: You have achieved so much in a short amount of time. Was there any special motivation behind that?

A: We are a young and dynamic company, so things can move very fast. This also means your personal development at Tencent can be a lot faster than anywhere else. Luckily, I had a very good mentor during that process.

James Mitchell, our Chief Strategy Officer is my line manager and years ago he approached me to join Tencent. We still work together on strategic investments on a daily basis. I am very grateful to have him as a mentor, who is also an alumnus from Oxford. I can say that he was very helpful in shaping my journey from academia to tech investments.

Q: What are some memorable moments at Tencent? 

A: In 2018, I hosted our annual strategy meeting with our senior executive team. This was happening only two years after I joined the company and after I returned from my maternity leave. Standing next to Pony and Martin, I felt very honored to be chosen to host such an important event at Tencent. 

While the meeting celebrated Tencent’s 20th anniversary, we were discussing a changing scenery in the Chinese tech industry and how we can stay competitive. So many competitors were quickly gaining ground in China. And we were moving from the consumer internet market to expand into making enterprise solutions and making investments in future growth engines.

I look back now and it feels rewarding to see some of the investments we made back then are creating new opportunities. One of them is a gene sequencing company spun out of Oxford University, the startup has turned into a leading company in the field of genomics and IPOed in London in 2021.

Q: What do you see in the future of the tech industry? 

A: In terms of mobility, we have invested in self-driving car technologies. I can say that this will be part of our lifestyle between 2028 and 2030. We partnered with a well-known German brand in this field, and have witnessed many impressive solutions in the market, so I feel confident about this being widely used soon. 

About the way we work, I think the immediate future will be hybrid, not quite virtual yet. There will be more virtual applications available but no one can deny that physical interactions will remain to be an important part of our lives.

AR and VR hardwares are still work-in-progress. We are looking at this, but it’s hard to make a clear prediction about areas of adaptation. There will certainly be exciting innovations in areas like “home fitness.”

Q: Do you have any role models or inspirations to keep growing?

A: I’m often surrounded by many talented women when working with startups that we work with. I can think of many strong female CEOs or founders who are setting their legacy in tech and innovation. 

To name a few, Enfuse is a Finnish startup founded by two entrepreneurs and they have done an incredible job in growing the company. And Lupita Nyong’o. She’s a young Oscar actress and has partnered with an exciting startup called Kukua. It combines education with entertainment, inspiring African kids to learn and study.

I also would like to give a shoutout to my 4-year-old daughter, who has been my source of inspiration. I recently took her out for skiing and watched her confidently sliding down the slope for the first time.

She was brave and kept her cool very well. She listened to the instructors who were teaching her. She didn’t give up even after falling over a lot in the first few attempts. It was a little great reminder of the value of persistence and leadership.