Lucas Lu (Head of Zoom Asia - ASEAN, South Korea, Hong Kong, SAR, Taiwan) featured on the So This Is My Why podcast with STIMY host and producer, Ling Yah Wong

Ep 142: I’ve Done Something Many Haven’t Had the Opportunity to Do | Lucas Lu (Head of Zoom Asia)

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Welcome to Episode 142!

Our guest for STIMY Episode 142 is Lucas Lu – Head of Zoom Asia.

And a fellow Sarawakian!

Lucas has had an illustrious career going from GM of Systems Technology Group at IBM Malaysia where they closed large deals within the first 6 months, leading to Lucas winning ASEAN Rookie of the Year – his first big recognition.

He ended up staying at IBM for 10 years and won 2 Global Golden Circle Award before moving on to become:

  • General Manager, Astro
  • GM (Tech Sales Malaysia), Oracle
  • Senior Director (APAC Enterprise Commercial Sales & Industry), Microsoft

Prior to his current role heading the Asian arm of Zoom.

While at first glance, Lucas appears to have had a very varied career, he has also been very intentional about every career move he’s made. 

And has had no zero regrets with how it has turned out.

So we dive deep into this episode into all things career development:

❓ How has Lucas chosen the roles that he has? 

❓ What is his secret sauce to climbing the corporate ladder? 

❓ How should one find mentors/career sponsors? 

❓ How does he plan his career & life (he has a plan for everything, including for his family members!!)?

And don’t forget leave a rating & review!


Also a special shoutout to Karl Mak (STIMY Ep 55) & his team at Hepmil. 

They’re the ones who made this subseries possible and helped me record all my interviews in their studio.

I definitely couldn’t do it without them – thank you Hepmil!

P/S: Let me know if you’re interested in doing a studio recording in Singapore! There’s plenty of space at Hepmil’s Limpeh studios. 😉

P/S: This episode is available on YouTube too!


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    Lucas Lu (Head of Zoom Asia - ASEAN, South Korea, Hong Kong, SAR, Taiwan) featured on the So This Is My Why podcast with STIMY host and producer, Ling Yah Wong

    About Lucas Lu


    • 1:50 My first 15 years
    • 2:27 Shell City
    • 4:22 No one leaves Shell, but I did…
    • 5:26 Getting the call from IBM
    • 6:05 Switching to tech
    • 6:59 Lucas’ unfair advantage over other people
    • 7:50 Lots of planning & reflections
    • 11:55 What should you do when you first take on a regional role?
    • 14:06 Career sponsors
    • 14:41 Secret to landing career sponsors
    • 15:22 The first time doors opened for Lucas?
    • 16:15 Moving on after 10 years
    • 17:14 Bringing a corporate mindset to the startup world?
    • 19:09 Measuring returns for media projects
    • 19:41 Moving to Oracle
    • 21:01 Kilimanjaro
    • 22:55 Element of luck
    • 24:16 Dealing with failure
    • 25:55 No regrets?
    • 27:37 Moving to Microsoft
    • 29:14 Takeaways from being fully immersed in a country 
    • 32:00 Did hiking change how he approaches sales and work?
    • 32:25 Why Zoom?
    • 33:43 Checklist for Lucas’ next career move (no compromise)
    • 34:24 How to determine if someone is the right person to work for?
    • 35:33 Most influential person in Lucas’ career
    • 37:28 Managing the strawberry generation
    • 39:15 What Lucas hopes to achieve at Zoom
    • 43:58 The second act in Lucas’ career
    • 46:45 What STIMY listeners can help Lucas with

    If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:

    • Justin Byam Shaw: Co-Owner of the Evening Standard & the Independent – on building the UK’s largest media empire
    • Loh Lik Peng: Founder & CEO, Unlisted Collection – on how a lawyer transformed himself into one of Singapore’s top hoteliers with 40 properties under him (including 9 Michelin starred restaurants!)
    • Fong Wai Kheng: On life as the 4th generation owner of Tong Heng – Singapore’s best, 100-year-old confectionary town with its famous diamond-shaped egg tarts
    • Adrian Tan: The Late President of the Singapore Law Society & King of Singapore

    If you enjoyed this episode, you can: 

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    If you’d like to support STIMY as a patron, you can visit STIMY’s Patreon page here

    External Links

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    • Subscribe to the STIMY Podcast for alerts on future episodes at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher & RadioPublic  
    • Leave a review on what you thought of this episode HERE or the comment section of this post below
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    Lucas Lu (Head of Zoom Asia - ASEAN, South Korea, Hong Kong, SAR, Taiwan) featured on the So This Is My Why podcast with STIMY host and producer, Ling Yah Wong

    STIMY Ep 142: Lucas Lu (Head of Zoom Asia)


    Lucas Lu: The only thing is Why you? If they're not helping you, they're probably helping someone else, right? That's part of what they do. As you get more senior, it changes from chasing titles to giving back and how much satisfaction you feel at the end of the day.

    So I think it's quite normal for them to want to help.

    One advice for anyone is., If you don't ask, you may not get, so just go ask, right, just go ask and the worst that can happen is they can't do it or they can't do it now, they tell you who else you could try. There's always a way.

    Ling Yah: Hey, STIMIES!

    Welcome to episode 142 of the So There's My Why podcast. I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah and today's guest is Lucas Lu, the Head of Asia at Zoom. Now, Lucas story is really interesting because he came from a little town called Miri in my hometown of Sarawak, and he started out as a production engineer.

    So the big question, obviously, is How on earth does somebody from a little town in Sarawak grew up to become one of the biggest tech leaders in this region? I don't want to give too much of his story away. So if you're interested, just stay tuned because we're going to dive into all of that as always on this podcast.

    And just before we start, in case you haven't done so already, please do give a rating review for this podcast because this is the only way anyone else will ever find it.

    Now, are you ready?

    Let's go.

    Ling Yah: Now, Lucas, when I was doing my research, I found out that we both come from the same home state of Sarawak, and you grew up in Miri. What was that like?

    Lucas Lu: The first 15 years of my life was in Miri. Yeah. I think it was a very... typical, I would say upbringing.

    My mother was a school teacher in my primary school, right. My father had a number of different jobs including, managing a hotel and later he got into the timber business in Jakarta, where we used to spend our holidays.

    So we had a little bit more exposure with traveling to Indonesia during holidays.

    Ling Yah: It was a large family that you grew up in?

    Lucas Lu: I'm the eldest of four. I have three younger sisters. Yes. So heavy responsibility on me.

    Ling Yah: And what was it like in Shell City, essentially, right? Yes. Were you, did you feel the pressure that, oh, I must work in Shell after?

    Lucas Lu: I don't think it was quite like that. But you are right, it is known as, you know, Shell City. In fact the year that I actually joined shell was 1991, and that was the centenary year of Shell, a hundred years of being.

    And the history is Shell essentially more or less started around Miri globally. So Miri is very much a part of the history of Shell.

    If you go to the Hilltop, there is oil World number one, which is the grand old lady, they call it which is what's left of oil on land.

    Of course, now everything is in the sea.

    But a lot of people worked for Shell.

    There's Miri, and then seven kilometers away is the small town of Lutong, and that's where Shell headquarters more or less is based.

    So, a lot of things there were revolving around oil and gas. You would know a lot of students whose parents were involved with Shell or doing something or other, right? As a contractor or supplying things to Shell. So a lot of connections to Shell. I had relatives who worked for Shell. An uncle and a second uncle.

    In fact, the second uncle introduced me to my first interview. And that's how I got into Shell.

    Ling Yah: And so it wasn't a question of doing something else?

    Lucas Lu: No, it was not. I would say I went to Australia to study when I was 15. And I did production engineering, which actually is not really that close to, energy or oil and gas.

    But when I came back, the opportunity just came. And of course when the opportunity came with Shell, it was something that I was quite keen on.

    Because you grew up in Miri and even in Malaysia at that time, if you think about this, this was early nineties, Shell really was a big name.

    It was one of the companies in the country. So when you say if you work for Shell, that's a big thing. And of course, when I left five years later, everyone says, no one leaves Shell. And you know, I made that move. Yes. I made that move.

    Ling Yah: Why?

    Lucas Lu: I started doing my MBA at the time. You know, I was being a smart aleck. I did my own SWOT analysis and looking at the trends and kind of figured out, Hey, oil and gas is a sunset industry.

    So what's up and coming?

    At that time, I think looking at alternative sources. There was pressure on oil companies in terms of the environment and so on.

    Ling Yah: Did you not think that maybe they could be at the forefront of investing in alternative energies like Petronas is now?

    Lucas Lu: You know, it's the power of hindsight. I think now, now we all look back, they all have moved towards that. Yeah.

    But at that time, no, I don't think they had worked out their strategy yet. I don't think they had worked out their positioning yet. And then as part of the MBA, I worked out that, hey, tech is up and coming.

    It seemed to make sense from an MBA perspective when I got a call from IBM, tech company. Why did they want someone from oil and gas?

    Do you know what I was doing in oil and gas? I was selling fuels and lubricants. Selling very different things fuels and lubricants one day and then got got the call from IBM and the next day I was selling technology, but to the oil and gas sector.

    That was the connection, right? So so that's how I got into tech and more or less ever since then I've been in tech.

    Ling Yah: How did they know to call you?

    Lucas Lu: That's a great question Of course, I don't know the full answer, you know. I'm sure they looked at different candidates. Yeah

    But I think my sweet spot was I came from Shell, and Shell was going to be one of the customers.

    Of course once I joined I also looked after Esso, Petronas and others as well.

    Ling Yah: And what was that switch like, going to tech for the first time?

    Lucas Lu: It was crazy. I joined, I remember, middle of the fiscal year. And straight in there were large deals. Then my manager resigned.

    Ling Yah: And you took over.

    Lucas Lu: Well, I had to run after the deals. Very new in the company. Essentially with guidance from my manager's manager, who was not in Malaysia.

    But, within the six months, we closed some pretty large deals. I won ASEAN Rookie of the Year. My first big recognition.

    I was with IBM for 10 years. I won two Global Gordon Circle Awards, that's what it's called. That was the first one, right? And that was because within that short space of time being new in the company, I was able to bring those deals across the line. So, yeah, So it was uh, auspicious start to technology.

    Ling Yah: What would you say was your advantage over other people that allowed you to just shine?

    Lucas Lu: I don't think there's any big secret. At the end of the day, it is that hunter kind of mentality that you want to get something done and you won't let things block you.

    You just find ways around it. You seek help. You just treat it as just one more obstacle. Is there some better way of doing something?

    So being just single minded and going after it. One of my strengths I would call it is the ability to multitask.

    It wasn't just one deal at one time, right? It was like actually two or three deals that were being worked on in parallel.

    I plan a lot actually. Even today I will plan for the day. I will plan for the week and I do a yearly planning for myself.

    Ling Yah: The reflections.

    Lucas Lu: Yes, I do the planning and then the reflections end of the year when I set the goals for the next year.

    And over time I've broken that down into whether it's personal, whether it's career, whether it's financial, whether it's family, and so on.

    So there are different buckets. I even have goals for each of my family. Wow. They may not know about it, but-

    Ling Yah: secretly ticking them off if they do.

    Lucas Lu: Yeah, that's right. It's a way to keep you know, something top of mind and focused, right? Because it's very easy to just run around, chasing after different things for other people's agenda.

    So I find that useful. That's probably one of my differentiation.

    The planning, that single minded focus on trying to achieve something. And I say it in a nice way, not single minded that I will bulldoze through everything and, step on everyone, but trying to find a way through.

    Ling Yah: But isn't that a fine line sometimes of bulldozing. It might not be bulldozing for you, but for other people, they might think you're really pushing it.

    Lucas Lu: Yeah. I mean, if you did it that way, you will get a reputation very quickly. I mean, it's a small industry. Everyone knows everyone else or, or know someone who has heard of you, right?

    But I think, I do have a decent reputation. I do have people tell me that people like to work for me, have heard of me, and so on.

    And part of that is, it's no different from when you're trying to sell something to the customer. You're always trying to find their needs, their wants, and sometimes maybe their personal agendas.

    And then you align what you're trying to do to what they want. And at the end it's not selling anymore. It's like, I'm here to help you achieve what you want. Right?

    So same thing with trying to get something done internally. It's like, how can this also help you achieve your KPI or make you look good and so on.

    So it's not about taking a frontal approach and go head on against what what they need to achieve. It's finding that common objective.

    Ling Yah: Ultimately, just remembering they're human, they have needs. Let's put you first and along the way I'll find my needs met too. Yes.

    I love the fact that you plan a lot cause that's something that would be very interesting to delve into. And you said you also plan your career. Which reminds me of, yesterday I was interviewing Arthur Kiong, CEO of Far East Hospitality. And he said, I architect my career. And it sounds like you do the same.

    How do you plan your career out? What does it look like?

    Lucas Lu: Yeah, I think it's not so much in terms of the company right? In fact, I don't really plan in terms of my exits and my entries to the next one. But it's more of what am I trying to achieve in my career.

    At the beginning, a lot of it was fairly materialistic kind of things.

    You know, how much money what titles, what roles, et cetera. That served well for a while.

    At IBM, you know, after that first half year there was a bit of a restructure.

    I became then the team leader. And soon after that, two industry units merged. And then the decision had to be made on, okay, who becomes the manager?

    The team leader that I was on this side and the manager who was on the other unit. I was able to get the support to take that merge role and become the youngest team leader, the youngest country manager. I became the youngest ASEAN general manager.

    So that focus on fairly more materialistic kind of approach did serve me well. But I do think what people say is true that sometimes you reach your level of incompetence where if you move too fast, actually you're not ready at some point.

    So when I took on that regional role, I never really worked in the region. I had no experience with a lot of the cultures of different countries, how things are done. It was very matrix where there's a country and you are region and it's a double reporting line in a way.

    All these were learnings that I had. Absolutely no regrets. It prepared me for my future roles. But at that time, there were times that I felt out of my depth. Having said that , I still did well. I moved into a couple of other roles as well.

    Ling Yah: With the benefit of hindsight, when you took on something as big as a regional role for the first time, what should you have done?

    What's the best way for people doing the same? How do they do it?

    Lucas Lu: I feel, and this is something that I'm very conscious of now, when I appoint people into roles, I have to support them.

    No one knows what the role is until they've done it for the first time.

    But there's a lot of assumptions in the corporate world that, Hey, you got the job. Therefore, that means you're able to do the job and off you go.

    But the reality is that's day one in that role. And the manager's role is really to, to coach, to mentor, to support and provide whatever else is needed for that person to be successful.

    I think, to some extent, I wasn't getting there. It was very much, I had to work out for myself. And, yes, I could have done a much better job of maybe talking to other people, finding out how they did it and what else I could do. Yeah, those were learnings.

    Ling Yah: Maybe I flip it as well and go, okay, you're the manager. You've just appointed someone to a role they clearly haven't done before. How should you guide them?

    Lucas Lu: Yeah, like I said, you almost literally have to show them the way. Because imagine if you've never been a people manager. Managing people is very different from being an individual contributor.

    There are aspects of people management, whether it's providing clarity, whether it's to motivate the person, whether it's performance management.

    So you actually need to guide them, provide advice, make yourself available for them to bounce things off you and make them realize that there's absolutely nothing wrong with showing that you don't know and, that you want to find out and learn.

    There's nothing like experience.

    So, I can do that for one day, one month. It takes years to really pick up. But of course there is a possibility that I can download what I have learned to the person so that they don't have to go knock their head on the walls. You just make yourself available so that they can just ask you any moment. Typically, that's what what I do.

    Ling Yah: And you said before you got the support of people. So the idea of career sponsors, how do you get them?

    Lucas Lu: Sometimes you're lucky, and you stumble upon them, or they thrust themselves upon you. And sometimes you have to actively look.

    Whether it's a role model, or someone who has a lot of experience in one area. Or someone who perhaps is senior enough that you think can also help you with the leg up and those kind of things.

    I'd say it's a combination, but it starts with really having the intent and that awareness that this is something that will help you in your career.

    Ling Yah: And how do you approach them in the first place?

    Lucas Lu: I think there are different ways, but when they are where they are, they know this is part and parcel, right?

    The only thing is Why you? If they're not helping you, they're probably helping someone else, right? That's part of what they do. As you get more senior, it changes from chasing titles to giving back and how much satisfaction you feel at the end of the day.

    So I think it's quite normal for them to want to help.

    One advice for anyone is., If you don't ask, you may not get, so just go ask, right, just go ask and the worst that can happen is they can't do it or they can't do it now, they tell you who else you could try. There's always a way.

    Ling Yah: When was the first time actually, when you felt the doors opening for you?

    Lucas Lu: I've been lucky. I can hardly think of a moment where I feel like I'm not progressing or moving on to something bigger or different experience.

    You know, I, I spent five years with Shell at the time, as I mentioned. It was, even globally, one of the really big brands, big names. I moved to IBM that also has a very storied past.

    At that time it was already, I think more than a hundred years old and had gone through some phases, but it was kind of rebuilding itself, brought in a new CEO, Lou Gerstner that came not from tech, but from banking.

    He basically changed the approach to be customer focused, industry focused and the industry focus was what brought me in.

    If you remember, I was brought in to look after oil and gas because they were verticalizing and

    Ling Yah: You decided after 10 years, it was time to move on.

    Lucas Lu: Yeah. So again, it was opportunity. A local company called Astro, the satellite TV and media space. At that time it was about 10 years old but already a very large enterprise in, in Malaysia.

    They felt that they were still acting like a startup even though they were 10 years old and it was already a, a few thousand employees, big business, huge facilities.

    They somehow said, Hey, get me someone from IBM because IBM is known for structure, process, and so on.

    The headhunter found me and I was brought in for a three year contract as GM of operations. And that was one of my stints, not as a vendor. It was as the end user, right?

    Which was a very different experience . It was also my only local company experience. There is a lot of difference between being part of a multinational and, you know, a local company.

    Ling Yah: And how do you bring all those processes into an essentially local startup? There's also the mindset culture.

    Lucas Lu: Yeah, the whole change management was part of the consideration. The fact that I had the top leadership behind me saying that this is what they need to do obviously that that helps.

    Having said that yeah, the company was pretty ingrained in the way that they do things. So it's about setting up processes that may not have been there.

    And also revisiting. There was also a tendency to think, Oh, this thing is written. Therefore, we can't break that, right?

    So it was helping people to feel more empowered to say, why don't we rethink what is best for us at this time.

    Ling Yah: How do you encourage that?

    Lucas Lu: Well, we start with the top management. I think we have the support, but at the end, now this is down to the nuts and bolts.

    You have to look at the areas that we can do it. There's a example within my first three months, there was a policy that, they have all these tapes where they do basically when they record a show and so on, right that they must be retained for a long time.

    So there was volumes and volumes of such tapes. And the question was, is it regulated that it needs to be this long? If not, why can't we reuse? Because we purchasing brand new Oh wow. Tapes for, for all the shows right to record and all these were then getting stored.

    So just asking some basic questions, is it a requirement by law or, operational or business requirement that needs that. But at the end, there was nothing. It's like, okay, and if we were to reuse these, how much new tapes do we avoid the cost of?

    So that was a very quick project. But it was just an example of helping to change the thinking and that not everything is set in stone.

    Because as like a startup thinking, you're very good at coming up with new ideas. But at the end of the day, who is measuring the returns?

    Ling Yah: So how do you measure returns for media projects?

    Lucas Lu: So not necessarily media projects, it could be an IT project, right?

    To make sure that it is money well spent. And then at the end of the day, who is going to be accountable. Don't think it's very different from many companies, but it was just something that needed to be put in place and then to be enforced.

    And part of that then to help with the change management. After a while, everyone says, yes, I get it. This is good for the company. This is good for me as well.

    Ling Yah: How do you decide it was time to move on to Oracle?

    Lucas Lu: It was not totally within my control. Okay. First of all, it was a three year contract, but of course at the end of the three years it was, should we renew or should we not? So at the time I decided, it's a good time to move on.

    I was not in a sales role and, so like I said, Being in a local company, you're both the brain trust coming up with a strategy, but then at the same time you also are involved in the execution. Whereas in a multinational, a lot of the thinking is done up in HQ and here really is about execution.

    I miss that. Waking up, knowing what you're supposed to do. So I decided to not renew and of course then there was the global financial crisis. So I had an unplanned break for nine months until I got into Oracle.

    Ling Yah: Were you concerned?

    Lucas Lu: Yeah, of course it's natural to be concerned. It was more of how long is the global financial crisis going to last?

    Earlier we were speaking about how and when I got into marathons and into climbing mountains. Well, that was the nine months. That was when I went from running around the neighborhood, to, well, why don't I enter a race?

    And ultimately in that same year, I ran my first full marathon. Literally for six months there was nothing. So, I was able to run my marathon and that was the year I also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

    Ling Yah: So, I imagine you planned those as well.

    Lucas Lu: Yes. Kilimanjaro was a fairly big undertaking, right? First of what they call the seven summits. . When I was at IBM, there was one year where 80 of us went to climb Mount Kinabalu.

    So that exposed me to my first track. It also exposed me to a group of people who were into tracking.

    Ling Yah: It just sounds like a track that's guaranteed for you to get AMS just because of how quickly you scale.

    Lucas Lu: Well, statistically, what you said is true. Apparently there are about 40, 000 people who attempt to climb Kilimanjaro every year. A lot of people think, ah, well, I could just do a long weekend.

    So in the five, six days, there is a rest day built in and all this is for the climatization. But out of the 40, 000, 20, 000 people don't make it.

    Ling Yah: Hey, STIMIES!

    If you haven't done so already, please do head over to give a rating and review for this podcast, because without it, Apple Podcast, Spotify, would never push it forward to let anyone else see. So just head on over, share with people, so that people will know about this special series, especially the ones that we are showcasing right now on Singaporeans who have achieved incredible success.

    I love the parallels, because I also did for the first time on Kinabalu, and because of that I thought, Ooh, I want to do Everest.

    So you chose Kili. And was that the start of your love of hiking?

    Lucas Lu: Yeah, But it got lonelier because the original group of four, Not everyone had the same vision to do the seven summits. Yeah.

    Ling Yah: Let's reach out to someone who's going to come on as well, thanks to you.

    That's right. Yes. And he's a professional adventurer who's done all of these summits and all the big continents and many other things as well.

    Lucas Lu: He's done crazy stuff, but yes, but he doesn't do it in a crazy way. And you'll hear more from him.

    Ling Yah: Yes. I like the fact that he does go back.

    He does say, no, I can't do it now over and over again, right. Rather than. Push on. That's right.

    What do you think you learned from all these different trips? Because it's one thing to push yourself career-wise, but this is pushing yourself physically. Some might say endangering yourself as well. Hmm.

    Lucas Lu: So there is that element of luck. Mm-hmm. In everything we do, right.

    And of course, you cannot eliminate risk, but you can reduce it By proper planning, having the right equipment, having the right guides, right? Thinking through contingencies, preparing for the worst case.

    So there are a lot of things that you can actually do to, to mitigate that.

    So part of my planning is always, how do we do it as safely as we can.

    But having done all the planning at the end, you go one step at a time. Anything could happen. On Concagua, one of my friends had to be evacuated by helicopter because of altitude sickness.

    Surprisingly, he was the one who had just done Kilimanjaro a few months before. So, technically, he could have been the most acclimatized.

    Yeah, but I've been lucky, so after Concagua I did Mount Elbrus, which is the highest in Europe. And one of my easy ones was Mount Kosciuszko, the highest in Australia, which literally you can take a ski lift and just walk there. The remaining you know, short few steps. And I also failed on two.

    Ling Yah: Was it difficult for you to have failed. Especially when I'm sure people will have known and asked, well, how did it go ?

    Lucas Lu: I think if you do it for public acclamation, then maybe.

    But to me, this is personal. When I went for Vincent Massive, which is the highest mountain in Antarctica, Which is one of those that I failed because I didn't even manage to cross over.

    A month before I did a training climb in Mount Rinjani, Gunung Rinjani. I always, you know, have either blisters or black toes. So my toenail decided to come out just as I arrived in Buenos Aires on the way for this trip. And so I had to make a decision, you know Antarctica is not a place where you jump on the next plane.

    Every plane is booked, fully going in, coming out . So, I actually did not even cross over.

    And in Oceania, the highest mountain is Carstensz Pyramid in West Papua. So I... tried that. At that time I was also not really getting enough training done.

    And also it's not a trek. It's a rope climb, right? Swee Chiao helped me with some of the training and then the rest of it, I thought, well, I'll just mental myself up. About halfway up, my limbs kind of, you know, were just worn out.

    If you're not a good rope climber you always try to pull yourself up, which is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Then you wear out everything. That was the photo that you put into LinkedIn. ,

    I still have relatively young family still, you know, so I said, okay, it's time to call it quits and that was, the last big mountain I did.

    Ling Yah: Yeah, and no regrets?

    Lucas Lu: No regrets. No regrets. I think I've done something which, many people probably have not had the opportunity to do and To do it while also having a career, a family and so on.

    Ling Yah: What would you say is a highlight from that period of your time and what drove you to keep doing it?

    Lucas Lu: Like I said, I was able to do it while having a good career, having, a great family, and still was able to do these pursuits which I have to be thankful to my wife, because, someone was asking me the other day, Oh, does she come along?

    And I said, No, she cannot stand cold showers, not proper beds and all that. Right.

    Some of my trips were three weeks long.

    To answer your question, I think it's just being able to do all those things without having to give up on one.

    Ling Yah: What was your trick to balance both?

    Lucas Lu: Well, I talked about, having a plan, having multifaceted plans where it's not one or the other. And then also I think my ability to multitask is important as well, and also I started to have a knack of bringing pieces together.

    Besides climbing mountains, I also wanted to travel. And so if there's a work trip and I just extend keeping very open. It was not like, I must go this place at this time. It was like, since I'm going here, what's nearby?

    Ling Yah: And even when you were working at Microsoft, you could do that as well?

    Lucas Lu: Everywhere.

    The great thing about tech companies in general is it's about the results. It's not about clocking in and clocking out, right? And also, we're so used to the technology allowing us to work from anywhere, literally, right? So, as long as that can be done, then no issues.

    Ling Yah: And what was it like then moving to Microsoft?

    Because I noticed you changed designations a lot.

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Different countries.

    Lucas Lu: Yes, I had yeah, I think in Microsoft, I started in Malaysia. I did it for two and a half, coming to three years. And then I went into the regional job for the enterprise business. And that was also when I moved to Singapore.

    I had a few regional jobs along the way, and this comes back to my multitasking, I was asked to help out countries whenever the business was not doing well, or there was a change of the leadership and so on.

    What it means is I'm doing my regional job and then I am running that country job at the same time, doing two jobs essentially.

    What I would have to stop doing is to travel regionally. I will be going in literally Monday to Friday or Monday to Thursday to that country for an extended period of time, doing that job and then I do my regional job from there.

    I did that four times during my Microsoft career. Six months in Thailand and after that nine months Indonesia and then six months in the Philippines and then back to Thailand another six months.

    So in total, more than two years of my life was spent in those countries.

    That also gave me a unique experience. You know, a lot of people may have done regional jobs, but it's really just flying in, flying out to some extent. Here I was, reallyin the country doing the day to day running of that business as well.

    That's why you see a lot of titles because at times it's two at the same time. It's like interim, interim. Interim, yes, there you go.

    Ling Yah: What were your main takeaways from being fully immersed in this country as opposed to just flying in, flying out?

    Lucas Lu: It's very different from accountability because if you're in a country, you own the business. You own the number.

    If you're in the region, you're just an overlay. That means the country's number, the people on the ground, they bring in the business and that number just adds up to your number.

    But on the ground, it starts and stops with you.

    So I think that's a key difference. Accountability.

    I think the key thing that I was able to bring is, if you remember the reason why I was asked to do those country roles is because the business was in trouble.

    In all these times that I stepped in, In the same quarter I was able to turn around the business and achieve the numbers, right? So, I think that goes back to having done it before, knowing what are the key things that you need to do. .

    Ling Yah: So what tend to be the key things then?

    Lucas Lu: In sales and in business, it goes back always to... Is there enough pipeline?

    In order to achieve one dollar of revenue, you might need three dollars of pipeline, and then that pipeline gets qualified to see which one is real, right? So, at the end, you need three times coverage in order to achieve this one dollar.

    So one is quickly look at building up the pipeline. So salespeople are supposed to put things into a CRM tool and if they don't do it It's on their Excel that no one else can see right or is in their head that no one else can see Then it will not show up.

    And when it doesn't show up, it means that management cannot take the right actions. So first thing is to get the visibility.

    My standard expectation for everyone is the pipeline must reflect the reality.

    Once I know the reality, I know what I need to do. If it's really insufficient pipeline, then we need to work on activities to build up the pipeline. If we have enough pipeline and we're still not meeting the target, it means we are not progressing the deals fast enough in order to meet it.

    Sometimes it's not the best forecasting. Maybe it should never have been forecasted for this quarter, it should be next quarter, but you put it in this quarter. Sometimes because you didn't ask for help.

    And also there are a lot of tactical sales kind of methods that you can bring to accelerate something. it's knowing what to prioritize.

    Ling Yah: And putting the right timelines as well.

    Lucas Lu: Absolutely. In sales and technology, the timelines are very clear. And then we break it down by the month. Then we break it down by the week.

    Ling Yah: It's like summiting little peaks every single quarter.

    Lucas Lu: If you look at it that way, yes it's made up of many peaks.

    Ling Yah: Do you feel like your experience hiking changed the way that you approach sales and work?

    Lucas Lu: I'm not sure which one came first, but, you know, if you think about it.

    But either way, you know, it is about stamina to see things through. It's about seeing it through and on the mountain, not just getting to the top, coming down as well, you have to look at the whole thing.

    From planning to resiliency to having the stamina, right? And to have that mental and physical toughness as well.

    Ling Yah: Going back to Microsoft, why did you decide it was time to go from there to Zoom?

    Lucas Lu: Part of it was that I moved to Singapore. Funny thing is now when I go back to Malaysia, where I spent so much of my years, my peers, guess what they're doing? Retired.

    Yeah. Because it's a different retirement age in Malaysia. But because I'm in Singapore I actually literally have 10 years or more to go officially to the retirement age.

    So, that in a way led me to that thought process, now do I stay another 10 years in that same company.

    The opportunity presented itself, right here's a up and coming company at a very different part of its maturity. Provide me with very different experience.

    Yes, it's a much smaller company, but it's a bigger role where I was running the whole region as well.

    I think that was what got me excited, right? In fact, all of my career, all of my companies, loved all of them. Never any regret, but when it's time to move on, it's time to move on.

    And when it's time to move on, I always look forward. How can I make the most of it now, right? Yeah, that was the reason why I, I joined Zoom.

    Ling Yah: So what is the actual checklist when you're thinking of next career moves?

    Lucas Lu: Three.

    Is it the right company? Is it the right role? And is it the right manager?

    I need to meet these three in order to consider the role.

    Ling Yah: No compromise.

    Lucas Lu: No, no, because if you look at my career, I've always stayed a decent amount of time in a company, right?

    And part of it is because if one of those were not ticked, you may just say, let's take the risk, then you may not get that longevity.

    And there are enough opportunities, there are enough great companies out there, there are enough great leaders that you can work for. So why compromise on that?

    Ling Yah: How do you determine the person is the right leader to work for? You probably wouldn't have much exposure, you might meet them in an interview, that's not enough time.

    Lucas Lu: It is the same way that in an interview I have to decide on hiring someone. It's certain things that you look for in the interview, but it is also reference checks.

    It is about their track record. Looking at a CV can usually tell me a story, right? If someone is a job hopper, then why.

    Why one, two years and then move on one, two years, move on. You know, there could be good reasons, but it becomes something for you to find out.

    Now in terms of my potential future manager, they should be someone in the industry. You cannot get to that level and no one knows about you. So, you can have multiple references.

    People who work with them before or just the general reputation. Stuff that you can find online. So, yeah.

    Ling Yah: In terms of the manager, what do you look for in them?

    Lucas Lu: Generally, it's just chemistry. Yeah. , can you connect with them?

    And then what are they looking for in you as well, right? Is this the value that you can bring to the role ?

    Ling Yah: Who would you say have been most instrumental in your career then?

    Lucas Lu: I don't think... there's necessarily one person, although there is a trend, which is, I've worked for one manager in three companies. Wow. Maybe that tells you something.

    But I also think my first breakthrough in IBM was when my, GM at the time, ASEAN GM, took a bet on me, right? Appointed me as a team leader, soon after that as a country manager.

    So I think that was an important breakthrough for me. But I also have to say that she said the reason why I got it was also because I asked for it.

    I wanted it.

    Ling Yah: So you just came in and said, I would like this role?

    Lucas Lu: I wanted to be considered for the role, right? What you don't want is to wonder whether you could have gotten it. You're asking for it very clear. You may not get it. But it's clear, you've asked, you didn't get it.

    I think those are probably the two people who have kind of stand out for me.

    Ling Yah: And when you ask, were you already performing as though you were in that role?

    Lucas Lu: Yeah, because I think I was always, kind of pushing the envelope. I was young. I was ambitious. I think I can do more I want to do more and I am doing more.

    Like I said, I used to plan plan my days, I remember my Shell days. I was sales rep. I was selling fuels and lubricants and one of the responsibilities besides sales, is you have to collect money.

    A lot of sales jobs no longer have this. You know, send a tanker load to the customer, and then at the end of the month, you have to collect the check.

    I used to literally plan like a milk run, right? From here, I'm going to pick up the check, then I go there, and there, and there, but things don't always work out your way, because Oh, it's not ready, then do I jump to the next one and then later I have to work out how to come back.

    I think I did well because I was a planner. Then I executed to the plan and the results showed and so on.

    Ling Yah: When I speak to a lot of leaders now, they tend to talk about how different the incoming generation is, the way they think.

    Sometimes they call them the strawberry generation. How do you think about it as a leader and managing those people?

    Lucas Lu: I just see it as reality. My generation, maybe I was being looked at as something else as well. Right. And I think the generation, yeah, could be.

    The reality is you need to work with the resources available to you and if they think in a certain way or have certain expectations, then again, it's back to that solution selling, right?

    As in, how do you align what they want to what you want, so that is a win win and not someone has to give in.

    Maybe 10 years from now it will change again, right? I think it also helps that I have three children in that just started work phase.

    And so they're maybe a proxy for what I can expect in the workplace.

    Ling Yah: So what have you found to be sort of the winning formula?

    Lucas Lu: Well, definitely this generation you can't tell them to do something. You can't say, I did it this way, or this was how it's always done. You know what I mean?

    They have their way of doing things. They tend to be much more independent. In general, everyone gets a lot more information from social, from online. And so half of their impressions and influence is already from there, right? So you can't just impose.

    It's more of being able to listen, try to understand.

    This approach doesn't change for this generation. I would advocate that as always being the way to really be empathetic, to really listen and then to find a way that you can align what the person wants to achieve to what you want to achieve, right?

    Ling Yah: Speaking of achievement, what do you hope to achieve at Zoom?

    Lucas Lu: There are exciting times ahead. There's so much to do and so much that we can do because it's a very unique proposition.

    Here is a brand that is already made. Most of the time when you're 10 years old, as a company, you have to set up a sales office. You have to get the word out. You have to explain.

    Here literally Almost everyone knows Zoom (overnight) Yeah but that can become a challenge in itself because your impression of Zoom is Zoom meetings. It is video conferencing and Zoom today has moved.

    Lucas Lu: One simple way of explaining it is, if on a slide, Zoom meetings, one product, was one icon, today to describe Zoom, I need three wheels, not icons. Each wheel might have ten icons. So that's how many solutions we have today.

    But they're all still in a very similar space, which is employee collaboration, customer collaboration, employee experience.

    It's in that space that we're known for. The job ahead of us is we have to get the word out that we are much more than just video conferencing.

    We have to sell all of these as well and we also have to keep preparing that every month or so a new product will come out as well. When you think about it that way, there is no finish line.

    It is ongoing, but most great companies are like that. And in fact, along the way like microsoft, they actually have to reinvent the business model.

    Yes, we are also looking at a whole business model as well, where we didn't have country organization, you know, and we didn't have people aligned by country and during the pandemic, it was fine. It was okay because when you need you know, video conferencing, you just You just buy, right? And, you know, there wasn't a lot of selling needed, but when you get into more complex products, which is what we have now, right?

    With cloud telephony, contact center and so on, you need people who are from, if possible, from that country, part of the ecosystem, knows the partner ecosystems, know the customers, speak the language, know what's the way to do business to be more effective. And that's what we're, we're transforming now. Our sales, It's forced to be much more closer to the customer in the country.

    What do you think you wish more people would know about what Zoom is doing that they don't? Why? What do you think? Huh. Are there things that Zoom is doing that you wish more people knew about?

    Actually, all of it. Because you know, and, and, yes, I'm slightly biased because I'm here. And also because I'm the closest to it, but literally this is the one time in my career where I absolutely have no qualms about selling the product because it literally is, you know, the best in terms of experience and, and so on, right.

    And adoption and so on. So, so the, the slight regret I have is not being able to get that out fast enough, you know, because I truly think that it can help, you know. customers and people to transform the things that they do, the basic things, but the quality would be great and so on. So yeah, don't get me started on AI and the rest.

    Yes, we have been talking about that quite a lot, but I'm sure they can just easily look up one of your past interviews to learn more.

    That too. But even then the speed of innovation is so great that, you know, it keeps, it keeps developing. So it's not standing still. When development

    is so fast, how do you make sure your customers know about it?

    That is the challenge. But what we're doing is obviously we're doing, you know, all the marketing things as well. We run events. For example, two weeks ago, we had Zootopia, which is our annual conference, and typically that's where the... A lot of new announcements will come. It's a customer event, obviously.

    We talk a lot to analysts, right? To, to the media. We run, we have an executive briefing center in Singapore. We have it in San Jose, Amsterdam as well. And we can do it either in person in Singapore, or we can do it virtually, right? And that's often the best way. Because, like I said, it is a product that We win if we can show, so it's not about me talking about it.

    It's not me presenting Slides, but if I can demo let them experience it usually that wins wins the customer over.

    You talked about thinking of well where my next 10 years be if not retirement a lot of people I've been speaking with this week talk about they call it the second act like for Tai Ho.

    He founded Channel News Asia and he said, my first act was founding Channel News Asia, founding a news channel in Myanmar, founding an entertainment channel in Myanmar.

    My second act is organically moving into writing books, his own, for George Yeo. And so a lot of people are thinking about that. And there is a thought of, I need to plan second acts 10, 15 years before it comes as well. How do you think about that?

    Well, that's a tough act to follow. But well, personally, my...

    For me, I think, you know, I have at least five, ten years continuation of what I'm doing, right? But, at the same time, I look, I see myself already bringing on the next phase. And to me, that one of the things I'm in discussions right now is on board directorships, right? So I think that's one way that I can continue to be active in leveraging all my experiences.

    But also building something which, when I stop working full time in executive roles that I can still contribute on the board. I'm also an advisor to a startup currently, you know, so, so I think that's part of getting into the next phase as well. That's from work and so on, but, you know, I intend to keep active as well, you know, so, so I still run every day.

    But only, only in a treadmill. I run equivalent, equivalent of three marathons a month. Wow. Because if I run every day four kilometers, that's 120 kilometers a month, right? So in, in small ways, but it all adds up, right? I, the next multi step kind of challenge that I've taken on is of course just seeing the world, you know.

    So. You have a checklist? Oh, yes. I have an app as well. Oh my goodness. Yeah, it says 86 right now, so. Okay. Wow. So what's next on the list? Good question. I, I just failed on one. I was going to see Puff one New Guinea. Yeah, the plane took off and they had a technical problem and turned back, so, so I stayed at 86.

    Okay. But yeah I think. You know, there are still parts of Europe. My last one that I was successful was Timor Leste, which was the last Southeast Asian country that I had not been to. So I think it's still, like I said, it's nice. You know, it's not a concrete plan. It's more of, oh, if I'm going there for work, what, what can I do?

    And, and so on. Yeah.

    And is there anything that listeners can help you with?

    Well, well, they, they've heard my, Aspirations you know, in terms of board direction, board directorship in terms of seeing the world. So any advice in that space of course that would, that would be great.

    Any particular board directorships you're looking into?

    We're in some discussions, but yeah, you know, yes.

    Completely fair. Before we sign off, I actually have a question for you, to play for you from someone that's not me. Let me just play it through you.

    This is Freda Liu, your ex colleague. Miriboy, how many countries have you been to? And how do I know you're not lying?

    Oh, man. Okay. Thanks, Freda. Well, I just said it.


    Yes. How do we know you're not lying?

    Because, Freda, how long have you known me? Have I ever lied to you? No, there's no reason to lie. We are following the United Nations definition of country. I actually had a higher list before. But do you know that, you know, for example, all of the United Kingdom is only recognized as one country, whereas I was saying, oh, England, Wales, Scotland, so I had to take some of that down.

    Did you know that Vatican City is not a country? Did you know that Taiwan is not a country? Hong Kong is not a country? Macau is not a country. So just, I've had to shrink my list. So I actually, that's, that's why I think I'm being very honest.

    Well, Lucas, it's been such a pleasure to have had you on.

    I always end on the same questions. So the first is this.

    Do you feel like you have found

    your why?

    I don't think I would categorize it as a very structured, you know, one paragraph. This is my why. . But in, in general, I think it is about how do I make the most of life? You know, how do I optimize, how do I stretch myself as well? Maybe just, you know, just, just a tidbit. I was so shy when I was young that I could not take a bus by myself.

    I did not speak up publicly and so on. And I think from that kind of perspective, you know, to have built, my experiences, myself to, to what I am now and, and to still have a plan to stretch myself even more. I think that's, that's probably my why. Hang on.

    How do you do it then?

    Wow. Are we going to go back again then? I think it, you know, again, sometimes it's luck. Sometimes it's just you have to be put into a position, right? So. So, you know, if you ask me now, I can't remember how, but I started to get into kind of leadership roles. I was the in my last year of primary school, I was the chief prefect with a nice yellow ribbon, you know, here.

    And at 15, I went overseas. And because at the time there was some talk that education system is changing, maybe in Australia and that you should get in early. And my, my fellow classmate was looking at that, so it was like, okay, why don't we go together? So at 15, I went overseas. So remember, I couldn't take a bus, you know, and now I have to fend for myself.

    And so I think, you know part jokingly, but really that's the kind of, when you, when you really have to do it, you do it, right? That's the great thing about humans, you know, we will always survive. But from one thing, it led to another. So, again. You know I was the class monitor, even in Australia, right?

    So in a foreign country, I was the volleyball captain, table tennis captain, and so on. So, and same in university. So I think yeah, I was lucky, partly. And... Yeah, just in positions where to some extent you either have to fend for yourself or, and also back to my why about always optimizing. So something, there's something innate that is like, there's an opportunity, go for it kind of thing.

    And you know, so yeah, that's how,

    since you said optimizing quite a few times, what is one tip that you think most people can take on board to optimize their life?

    Well, I'm not sure that it is for everyone, right? Some are happy to do one thing at a time, for example, right? Or stick to one thing, may not want to try something else.

    So I think for me, it is about in the 24 hours you have, right? What can you achieve? You know, I talked about my planning, which initially was just pen and paper, right? And then Excel. And then I came across, I still remember, I came across this wonderful thing.

    At that time, it was called Time Management Systems. It's probably disappeared now. But at that time, it was, you paid 500 ringgit, which was quite a lot of money in that time. And it came in a box, and the box would have, you would have a folder, and it would have all the pages, and every year you refill the pages, because, with the right dates.

    And in there, it will guide you on, you know. You know, tasks, this, that, your calendar, diary, you know, and I was really doing it, right? So I think, you know, again, it's, that's how you optimize, that's how you find, you know, time. And then also you, you must have a target because what are you optimizing towards if you don't have a target, you're just creating time, but you're not doing something with the time, right?

    Or you're not doing more with the time. So I think, you know, planning it. Knowing why you want to have more time and what you can get out of that spare time that you create, I think that's, that's it.

    Ling Yah: Amazing. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

    Lucas Lu: It's still tied to that. here's someone who achieved whatever he could achieve.

    You know, it doesn't mean I have to be better than someone. It doesn't mean, you know, I need to be the prime minister or, but I think, you know, I've tried as far as I could and achieve what I could and even that probably means I fail along the way because that's part of knowing whether you have, you know, you've tried something.

    Back to my climbing, right? I failed a few times, you know, so.

    Ling Yah: What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?

    Lucas Lu: I think it's, Important that you are recognized to be successful. It is not that you say you're successful, right? So I don't want to, you know, I don't wanna put anything out there that says, oh, because I've done this or I've done that, therefore I am successful. But I think it's more if, if my peers, if my family, if my friends, think I'm successful and, and then so what if I'm successful, but I'm not no longer their friend or their, you know, it's like that's not fully.

    Successful in my mind. So, yeah, especially recently I've made a lot of reconnections, you know, with people that I've not met. Like last week in Manila, my teacher in high school in Australia, we had not seen each other for 38 years, but we connected online. He's Australian, he's based in Adelaide, but his wife is from Manila.

    Philippines and he was back for a trip and somehow we made it happen. So I met him in Manila after 38 years and we, we caught up, right? So, so I think those are, you know, my little definition of success, which is more of, again, making something of the connections that I've had, right? Even though it was 38 years ago, but something from there.

    I felt it's still worth, you know, catching up. And it's totally fine to have just put it aside, right? I mean, after 38 years, right? So I think, yeah long winded answer, but it's other people seeing that you're successful, not so much yourself, and and I think the human connections is part of that success, you know.

    It'd be very lonely if you just have a lot of awards or a lot of money, but you're on your own. And where can people

    Ling Yah: go to find out more about what you're doing and support everything you do?

    Lucas Lu: Well, LinkedIn might be the best bet. I'm not very active on Facebook and the rest, but I think LinkedIn, you know My number, phone number is readily available as well, so, you know, WhatsApp, phone call, email, all possible.

    Ling Yah: Anything else you'd like to share that we haven't covered so

    Lucas Lu: far? Well, I think, you know, maybe just that family side of it that I'm getting a lot of satisfaction because now I see the next generation also coming out, you know on their own into the workforce.

    Essentially they've completed that whole cycle, right? I went to study in Australia And now some of my children have also completed that loop as well So I think yeah, it is it is not just about you But you talk about the biggest legacy, of course is the family.

    Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 142.

    The show notes can be found at and a special shout out to Limpeh Studios for allowing us to record this in person in Singapore. There is a gorgeous setup that we have done, so if you want to see the visual version, just head over to YouTube and if you want to record it yourself, just visit

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