It is hard to believe anyone, much less the chief executive officer of a leading software company, is not actively seeking success. Ping Fu, co-founder and CEO of Geomagic, is the unique exception.
Geomagic is a worldwide software company based in RTP. Though it has seen tremendous success in its short history, Fu admits that was never the driving force behind this company.
“Success is not something you set out to achieve,” she said.
What she has achieved thus far, however, is simply incredible. Originally from China, she studied Chinese literature in Suzhou. It was there that she began what ended up being a brief career as a journalist. Her piece on the killing of baby girls in China as an attempt to control overpopulation ultimately landed her in the United States.
“I didn’t really have a choice. I was forced out,” said Fu of the Chinese government’s response to her story.
After arriving in the U.S. and earning both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science, a colleague suggested she start a computer company. With only her knowledge of software to guide her, she turned this suggestion into reality.
“I didn’t know the first thing about starting my own company,” said Fu. “I learned as I went along. I don’t think it was as much trial and error as it was me being curious. I read a lot of books, sought out a lot of resources. I used those who had more experience in the field as my mentors.”
Her “spur of the moment” decision proved to be the right one. Geomagic was founded in 1997 during the peak of the Internet craze. The company produces 3D software used to create digital models of physical objects. This software has pioneered technologies that change the way products such as dental appliances and automotive parts are designed and engineered, and is used worldwide by companies in all fields.
As CEO, Fu has been the recipient of numerous awards. In 2005, she was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. magazine, named to Fast Company’s list of 100 Most Creative People this year and most recently received the 2010 CAD Society Leadership Award for her technical and business leadership in the computer and design industry.
“I am greatly humbled by all of the awards I have received, but I don’t think I personally have necessarily contributed enough to earn them,” she added.
Even more impressive, still, is her outlook on it all.
“My goal was never to achieve success. I wanted to make contributions to the world in any way I could,” she said
For Fu, it is the contributions leading up to success that truly matter. This mentality plays a large role in the growth of her company. She strives to create a working environment that makes her employees want to go to work each day.
“If you enjoy what you do, you will work better and be able to contribute more. I try to put a motherly touch on how I run the company” Fu said. “There is a family environment at Geomagic. We all love one another.”
Despite her dedication to the company, Fu is not just a leader in business. She leads a household as a mother and a disciplinarian — two roles she values greatly.
In fact, so much so she admits, “If I had to choose between a CEO and a stay-at-home mom, I would vote for the mom every time.”
Being a mother, she looks forward to going home at the end of the day. Finding time to enjoy the “little things in life” with loved ones is not a balancing act for her; rather, it is a priority.
“I have no balance (in my life) and I don’t try to achieve it. I try to do things every day to contribute to all aspects of my life — as a mother, a CEO and a friend. If at the end of the day I can ask myself whether I have contributed and my answer is yes, I am happy.”
Though Fu cannot predict what the next 10 years will bring for her personally or for Geomagic, success as she sees it will continue to lie in what can be done for others. As for her message to all women: “Do what you love and do it well.”