Li Linian (GM of Modern Water in Greater China) Interview with

Linian is the only female executive of Modern Water in China. She has established Modern Water Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. and Encyclo Water Technology (Zhejiang) Co., Ltd. for the company, developed strategies for the Group, managed Modern Water’s business in China, expanded the distribution network for the water monitoring business and established and enhanced the market position of the company brand in China.

Linian holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Natural Resources, Energy and Environment from the University of Alberta in Canada and a dual Master of Management degree from EDHEC Business School in France. She has acquired rich working and living experience in business and social culture in Asia, Europe and North America.

During her career Linian has worked in multinational companies such as Rouse International, Carat China, General Motors European Headquarters, the Energy and Environmental Applications Centre of Canada, JC Decaux, and others. She has more than 10 years of management experience.

1. How were you drawn to enter the scientific instrument industry? Why did you choose this field?

I wanted to focus on climate and environmental issues throughout my time in university, so I chose to study for anMBA in Natural Resources, Energy and Environment in the University of Alberta, Canada, which is the only MBA program with such specialization. In 2010, I returned to China to help Modern Water set up a company in the Chinese market, providing the world’s leading water treatment technology, focusing on water shortage and wastewater treatment solutions. In 2011, through the acquisition of Cogent from Australia and SDI Instruments from the United States, the company integrated and established a new monitoring product department. I was responsible for managing the business in China.

2. It must have been a hard journey so far. Would you please share the bitterness and sweetness of your work?

Take the special year of 2020 as an example. Due to the pandemic, the global supply chain was interrupted in the first half of the year, raw materials were in short supply and borders were closed in most countries leading to the decline of factory capacity. Moreover, the ecological environment emergency testing projects of several provinces and cities in China were in urgent need of our heavy metal and toxicity testing instruments. We communicated with three foreign factories for several weeks, reassigned orders, adjusted production shift systems, staggered work shifts, restored production capacity as soon as possible, and quickly adjusted logistics and transportation strategies so as to meet the delivery time required by domestic projects. I would like to thank the distributors and partners for their support and trust in our work during this time.

In the second half of the year, due to the risk of the pandemic being imported abroad, we promptly formulated epidemic prevention measures and standardized procedures for imported goods, actively responded to the relevant requirements of national control authorities, strictly complied with China’s relevant policies in import procedures and logistics, and actively cooperated with customs, commodity inspection and quarantine authorities to implement comprehensive epidemic prevention measures. Any deliveries had to go through a strict sterilization treatment. This was carried out again before warehousing any stock. Any product leaving the warehouse had to undergo 14 days isolation, and the use of secondary packaging in the delivery, to avoid potential risks in the process of logistics.

In spite of various difficulties, the business of Modern Water equipment grows steadily in China and this was recognized by various awards in the industry in 2020. For example: our Microtox Toxicity Analyzer LX won the 2019 Scientific Instruments Excellent New Product; Modern Water China was shortlisted for Innovation of the Year and Sustainability at the British Business Awards. In 2020, the company was also named as one of the “Players in Brine Concentration Technology Market”.

3. What challenges and advantages do you think women have in their work? How do you think women can make a balance between career and family?

Environmental engineering is a male-dominated sector. But I’ve gotten a lot of help from my colleagues in this industry, and I feel it’s important to recognize who we are and that female power is one of our strengths. We also see people who desperately try to conform, or “act like a man,” in order to fit in. Being empathetic is a natural advantage for women. When we are empathetic, we listen more and understand other people’s positions and try to empathize with them. It helps us to make better decisions and lead more effectively. Knowing how to connect and trust others in the workplace is an important step. See gender as an advantage, and gather the power of “we”. WOMEN=Wo’men (we in Chinese)

I think life and work are multiple choices. When we have to take on more roles and responsibilities, it is no longer a matter of balance, but a matter of choice. We need to choose what time is family time and what time is work time, and how to make a clear and comfortable distinction between the two, take the corresponding responsibilities, and adjust our mindset.

4. In the run-up to International Women’s Day 2021, what advice would you give to women?

Be confident, enjoy life, don’t follow suit, be yourself, time will take you to the right place. The first thing to do is to build confidence in everything we do. We need to develop a vision beyond ourselves. Confidence does not mean that you are not afraid, but that you have the ability to overcome. Secondly, many of our challenges are from other people’s judging. My suggestion on how to treat others’ opinions correctly is to listen with an open mind and try to understand people’s biases. It’s more important to listen to yourself and do things your way.

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