Creating products that address customer challenges brings me true satisfaction

Interview | June 2, 2023

Celia-JianMei Zhao has worked in engineering roles for ABB in China for close to 20 years. She currently works as Technical Specialist at ABB Measurement & Analytics, overseeing the production of pressure and temperature transmitters in the Shanghai factory. This is her story.  

Celia-JianMei Zhao joined ABB in 2004 as a Field Service Engineer after 10 years in a leading steel plant in her native China.

Earlier, she had studied Industrial Automation Instruments, a science and engineering discipline at a time when these programs were especially popular.

“There are many science and engineering disciplines you can study in China and, once you graduate, there’s a wide range of job opportunities. I went for science and engineering like most of my classmates, especially the female ones,” says Celia-JianMei Zhao. 

After graduating, a number of Celia’s female colleagues, as well as herself, landed good jobs. 

Learning by doing

Celia’s education continued on the job.

“At ABB, I learned skills straight from my more senior colleagues. This is not something I could have learned from books at university.”

Back in 2004, she was the first female service engineer in ABB's Instrumentation division in China. Her role – servicing instrumentation equipment at ABB customer sites – was challenging as well as rewarding. 

“I vividly remember a field service case in my first year at ABB at a cement plant, located at the end of a bumpy road on a mountain. I was to service our 2000T series pressure transmitter. The only means of getting to the site was on the back of a motorcycle. So, I sat in the rear seat going all the way to the customer's site. The customer was greatly touched by ABB’s timely presence at the site.”

In 2010, she went for engineering training at ABB in the U.K. Following that, she took on a challenging project that led to her receiving an Excellent Employee award for her contributions to the project.

Reflecting on her ABB career, Celia is grateful for the incredible opportunities she’s had in her different roles, the continuous learning opportunities, the challenging nature of the projects, and, most importantly, her excellent colleagues and good teamwork.   

In all her roles, teamwork has played the most crucial part. Out of the ABB values, collaboration is the most important to her. 

“Looking back, it is crucial to get colleagues with different skills working together towards a common objective. We need to actively acknowledge our respective advantages and, together, deal with the challenges.“ 


Creating products that address customer challenges

Working on new products gives Celia the most satisfaction at work, closely followed by the experience of receiving the first order for a new product and making a timely delivery to the customer.   

“It gives me enormous satisfaction to support my business development colleagues in winning new projects and, once we begin working on these projects, I enjoy collaborating to help address customer challenges in a way that satisfies the client.”

If she has to name one project that she considers her greatest success in ABB, Celia doesn’t hesitate to say that it was the introduction of two new products to the product portfolio of the Shanghai factory during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“In that tough time, our colleagues from other ABB locations could not travel to the Shanghai factory to provide face-to-face training and guidance. We overcame that challenge by using videos and pictures to communicate. With dedicated support from our Italian colleagues, finally the two new products – the 266 multivariable transmitter and the PxS100 pressure transmitter – were successfully introduced, further enlarging the portfolio of pressure products in the factory.“ 


ABB colleagues as role models

Celia’s colleagues – positive, serious, and responsible, are her role models.

“My colleagues have years of experience with ABB and vast knowledge of our products. I have learned a lot from them.” 

This and the fact that the positive work environment at ABB encourages her to develop her technological skills, makes her hopeful about the future of women in technology.  

“Working in engineering and technology is a satisfying career choice for women who like science and engineering. Gender is not a barrier. There are many outstanding engineers working in technology around me, and I am always impressed by how well they perform in their respective fields.”

In her career, she has not encountered any challenges related to gender diversity or inclusion. She says that arranging for female coaching in one-to-one sessions at the early stages of a young female engineer’s career can be especially useful.


About Celia

Celia-JianMei Zhao joined ABB in 2004 and since then has worked in several engineering roles. She started as Field Service Engineer. Later, she was Production Industrial Engineer for five years. She then became Production Manager and has served as Technical Product Manager since 2013.

Years at ABB: 19 years

Initiatives/products worked on so far: 5+

Superpower: Positive attitude and good coordination skills. 

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