Weiling Li, Vice President of iSoftStone, Inc.
Mr. Weiling Li is the Vice President of iSoftStone (NYSE: ISS), a China-based leading IT services and solutions provider with 23 delivery centers in North America, Europe, Japan, and Greater China. Weiling has over 20 years’ experience in software and mobile industries, and is well-versed in IT services from both sides of the fence – managing projects for Fortune 500 companies, and providing IT services to global clients.
Prior to iSoftStone, Weiling was the CEO and co-founder of Loci Software, Inc., a Seattle-based software services company which became part of iSoftStone in December, 2010. His past experiences also include senior positions with Fortune 100 companies including Verizon Wireless, HP and General Electric.
Weiling is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. He holds a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla.
Q. You’ve been the Vice President at iSoftStone, Inc. for a year and a half. Did you live in the Seattle area before that time?
A. I moved to the Seattle area in 2001 because my family and I really wanted to live in this area. During the time we have lived here, I have worked for several local companies.
I originally moved to the U.S. in 1986 for my university education. I earned a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla. After I graduated, I worked for several Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric, Sprint, Compaq (which is now HP), and Verizon Wireless. Locally, my longest employment was with Verizon Wireless, where I managed B2B e-commerce development.
I co-founded Loci Software in 2008. In Latin, “Loci” means “locations.” We were based in Bellevue, and wanted to provide location-based services in China. The company took a turn and we became a software services company. In December of 2010 my co-founder and I were a talent acquisition of iSoftStone
Q. Tell us about iSoftStone, Inc.
A. iSoftStone has been growing hugely since T.W. Liu founded the company in October 2001. After earning his MBA from MIT, T.W. went to China, where he founded an e-commerce company. He later sold that company to Office Depot, and took 40 of his former employees and started iSoftStone.
iSoftStone (NYSE: ISS) is a leading China-based IT services provider. We serve both greater China and global clients. The company provides an integrated suite of IT services and solutions including consulting & solutions, IT services, and business process outsourcing services. Our industry verticals include technology, communications, banking, financial services, insurance, energy, transportation, and public sectors.
iSoftStone now has more than 13,000 employees globally. We’ve been growing faster than similar large companies in the industry.
Q. How did iSoftStone establish a presence in the Seattle area?
A. In 2008, iSoftStone acquired Akona Systems, a local, 40-person company. As of today, our Seattle-area office has grown eight-fold, both revenue-wise and people-wise. We have about 340 employees in our Seattle office now.
Q. To what factors do you attribute this tremendous growth?
A. Typically, companies in our industry take over 20 years to grow to 10,000 employees. We attribute the growth of iSoftStone to several things:
One, we have a talented management team and we focus on our domain knowledge – we’re mainly a software services company.
Two, we concentrate on being localized. Even though we are a China-based company, people enjoy a perfect combination of American culture and Asian culture in our U.S. offices. We hire talent from all over the world, yet our business practices are very localized. That’s one of the biggest differentiators between iSoftStone and other similar companies that do business in the United States.
Q. What advice can you offer to Chinese companies for how to localize their business practices?
A. Companies that successfully do business in the United States are very conscious of branding and marketing. Chinese companies, on the other hand, tend to be more sales-oriented. I believe that companies who want to be successful in America must be willing to shift their way of thinking, adapt to American culture and do business the local way.
The same holds true for American companies that want to be successful in China. For example, Oreo is doing really well in China. That’s because adapted their cookies to appeal to the Chinese palate – the cookies they sell in China have a Chinese flavor. Other American brands have also adapted well: KFC delivers in China. And Walmart sells turtle soup in China. Successful companies are localized.
Q. You have lived in the Bellevue/Seattle area since 2001. What do you tell friends and colleagues in China about what it is like to live and work here?
A. My wife and I chose to live in this area for several reasons. In 2001, Seattle had the highest number of college graduates per capita in the entire U.S. It was a software hub, and software engineers were the highest paid in the country. That told us that this was a good place for people in the software industry to live.
Former Washington state governor, Gary Locke (now the U.S. ambassador to China), was the first Asian governor in the continental U.S. And Ichiro (who plays for the Mariners) was the biggest sports star at the time! The area is integrated, culture-wise.
Plus, it’s a beautiful area. When we moved here, we called our friends and said, “People come to the Seattle area for vacations. We get to live here!” I definitely recommend the Bellevue/Seattle area to anyone looking for a place to settle down.