The Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd. hosts over 12,000 Digital Events per year for our customers. As the manager of Customer Event operations in our Americas region, John Lu’s role is to ensure that all the events are executed successfully and that event teams are performing at their full potential. To this end, he assists team members as needed: establishing processes, monitoring performance, and providing guidance.
He’s well placed to do this, having amassed eight years experience in this field, first managing projects as an online events producer and now managing the overall team. Below, and in the accompanying video, we find out more about his evolution within the company.
Q. You’ve been producing and managing events now for many years, but before this you worked in sales. It’s quite a change! How did it come about?
I actually loved working in sales. It helped me develop a range of skills that I still use today. The thing was, that even though I met or exceeded my revenue targets each year, reaching my KPIs (key performance indicators) never drove me to make sales. What I cared about was providing customers with the services and service they needed. As a result, after five years in sales, I took the opportunity to transfer into Event Operations. I realised that this way, I could continue to support customers in the best way possible without having to worry about revenue targets.
Q. These days then, your career revolves around project management. What do you like most about it?
Project management is typically needed when initiatives are complex and/or require processes that have not yet been defined. I tend to get bored with routine, so working on projects that have never been done before excites me.
Q. Looking back at your career in the company, which project are you most proud of?
I’m proud of every project that I work on, so it’s difficult to choose just one. There are two that come to mind though. One was deploying a customer engagement survey tool within our region. This tool allows customers to provide feedback (positive or negative) via our employee’s email signature. Responses are received in real-time which allows us to take immediate action, when needed.
The second project is the live simulcast of our company’s global townhall meeting, TiDE. The broadcast required real-time video connection between presenters in Florida, Barcelona, Bangkok, and all our remote viewers around the world. The project required huge coordination between all our regional teams, as well as event operations, a/v partners, and vendors. The event was a big success and is now a standard service we offer for all our internal global townhalls.
Q. You mention in your video that you love the challenges offered at the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd. Is there perhaps one that stands out as particularly memorable?
It was certainly a challenge for me in moving from managing a group of less than five team members to managing a group of over more than thirty. There were a lot of new variables to deal with, such as different skill levels, personality types, and communication styles. Learning the importance of delegation, and setting clear expectations helped me overcome this challenge. Everyone in the team are ‘rock stars’ and they are committed in doing their jobs well, so this challenge dissolved quickly for me.
Q. We saw on your Linkedin page that you’ve had nine different awards, from Values Employee of the Month to the Americas’ President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership. What do you think it takes to be such a good employee and manager?
I’d say that a strong work ethic and being flexible with changes are the keys to my success. Good communication between your peers, team members, and managers is also very important.
Q. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to follow a career path in Digital Events?
Managing a live digital event is like producing a live TV broadcast – or coordinating a large wedding! Each event requires a lot of planning for things that then all need to be executed at a specific, single scheduled time. And everything needs to run perfectly. The job requires strong attention to detail, ability to multitask, and excellent communication skills. You also need to be able to react quickly when things don’t go according to plan. Successfully managing live digital events will give you skill sets that can be applied to any industry or position. If you feel like you have these skills, please reach out to me!