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She is Setting New Chapters for Women in STEM Careers

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As the Asia Director of Global Industrial Refrigeration Product and Technology and Vice President of Women Global Network (WGN) in APAC, Cicci Xi, who is based in Shanghai, is looking to enhance the inclusivity and diversity work culture at Johnson Controls in the region. A recognized industry titan, she is equally passionate about raising the technical and professional standards in China’s industrial refrigeration sector.

Career choice in Engineering

As a young child, Cicci was not one who settled for conventions; rather, she relished in pushing the boundaries and breaking the molds. She credited her parents for being open-minded and allowing her to try out anything that interest her. Cicci showed a keen interest in the sciences from an early age, and was encouraged by her parents to pursue her passion. This eventually led to her choice of major in cryogenics and refrigeration, a branch of mechanical engineering, at Xi’an Jiao Tong university, one of the leading universities in China. 

She began her career with a local research and design institute as the design engineer for industrial equipment such as HVAC, air separation system and industrial gas piping. Ever eager to broaden her skills set beyond engineering, Cicci took up an MBA course with Donghua University while juggling a demanding work schedule.

Recognition as an Industry Titan

Cicci began her career with YORK China (prior to the acquisition by Johnson Controls) in 1999 as a project engineer, which later extended to different internal and external roles across technical positions and account management, to sales and marketing driving business growth in industrial refrigeration. She was dedicated in raising the company’s technical and professional standards in the refrigeration industry, and focused on building up expert teams and cultivating talents at the company. In recognition of her exemplary performance, Cicci received the Johnson Controls’ Global Masters Award in 2008. Today, Cicci is the Director of GIR (Global Industrial Refrigeration) Asia Product Technology where she leads a team of more than 100 employees to develop new business models and focus on long-term growth of industrial refrigeration products in the region. Her wealth of experience encompasses marketing strategy, communications, and growth marketing.

When asked about her ‘secret’ of success, Cicci shared: “I enjoy the process of creating something from the ground up. When I work on any project, I’ll first plan out a long term vision and short term goals, and I’ll work methodically to meet the set milestones. This systematic approach keeps me on track to see a project to fruition and deliver results.”

Leading the Women Global Network (WGN)

Cicci’s other passion is working on creating inclusive environments in the male-dominated engineering industry for women. She’s a strong advocate for greater inclusivity and diversity at the workplace, and believes in bringing different energy and perspective to the company. “I find that women are suitable for science and engineering. The disciplines require logical thinking and patience — traits that are natural to women,” she reasoned. Her tireless efforts have earned her numerous accolades within the industry, including the prestigious Golden Chain “Extraordinary Women of the Year” award that she received in 2012.

Cicci has been leading the Johnson Controls’ Women Resources Network team in China since the global initiative was launched in 2014. Working together with a team of volunteers, she had organized workshops and forums where the company’s women leaders “shared their knowledge and experiences on career development, such as management and work-life balance issues, with fellow female co-workers,” she said. 

Following the recent relaunch of the initiative Women Global Network, Cicci is now overseeing the APAC region and developing the strategy, structure and resources to nurture female talents and future leaders, and to recognize their achievements in the diverse and inclusive workplace.

Going forward, Cicci thinks that it’s time our society encourage more young girls to study STEM subjects in schools. “We should address stereotypes that STEM course work are difficult for girls to handle. Instead, we should find ways to build the interest and confidence of our young female generation in the sciences and engineering courses,” she said.

The original article was published here.

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