A career growing in unexpected directions

    March 6, 2020

    From Strategic Purchasing to R&D: Zhang Chun recounts her Signify journey and how the people around her shaped her path


    Zhang Chun is an R&D manager of BG Professional Greater China and Growth Market. During her time at Signify, Zhang has had multiple roles – from Firmware Engineering to Strategic Purchasing. However, in 2012 – after 5+ years in purchasing – she shifted over into R&D.

    Her experience in multiple sides of the business adds to her effectiveness as a leader. This is the story of how she made the switch, the effects of the people on her life, and her principles for career success.

    Zhang Sports

    Embrace the unexpected

    R&D was never in Zhang’s career development plan, since she was happy in purchasing for 5+ years. However, she was always open to new opportunities.

    It was this openness that paved the way for her journey to the R&D department. Zhang stated “My manager at the time actually said on our first meeting, ‘Zhang Chun you know you would make a good R&D manager’. I was a bit shocked since it was the first time we met but he had me outline my skills and the job requirements to see if there would be a fit.”

    I was asked if I was ready to take up the challenge, and I was"

    She appreciated the interest he took in her career path. And, when an R&D manager left and their replacement cancelled at the last minute, an opportunity presented itself. “I was asked if I was ready to take up the challenge, and I was.”

    The power is in the people

    No workplace is without its challenges, and challenges aren’t necessarily bad, it’s how you go about them that makes the difference.

    For example, when she felt her team was working too hard, she pushed to get more people in to improve the work-life balance of those around her. Being a people-oriented manager Zhang always asks her team to be open and express their concerns.

    It was rocky beginning gaining the R&D teams trust, but soon enough they were comfortable opening up, even getting into an occasional friendly debate!"

    However, the way you run a purchasing team is much different than an R&D team. It was rocky beginning gaining the R&D team’s trust, but soon enough they were comfortable opening up, even getting into an occasional friendly debate!

    “I think it was because I was new and they didn’t know my style, and in the beginning it’s a lot of adjusting to your style, they’re doing a lot of observing and adapting,” she explains.

    Zhang Chun Eindhoven

    A few tips on life

    Zhang has gone through many facets of the business and was happy to share some guiding principles that facilitated her journey.

    Try new things
    She advises new starters to “be open to new things, because even if you fail, you tried something new and gained new experiences, which is a great thing.”


    Be prepared
    She also advocates for preparedness over opportunity-seeking. “I always tell my team that you don’t go out looking for opportunities, you prepare yourself as best you can, and opportunity will find you. Just be the best version of you and people will notice.”


    Be open

    Zhang describes the Signify work-life balance and open environment as promoting the freedom to speak out and have an open dialogue with managers. “It’s important to share what’s on your mind, positive or negative. That’s how we grow and improve.”

    Finally, Zhang wanted to leave with one key message: “The main thing I want people to take away from my story is: take challenges and adapt to the change. That’s my message!”

    Take challenges and adapt to the change. That’s my message!"

    About the author:

    Reyhaan King

    Reyhaan King

    Signify Talent Acquisition

    For further information, please contact:

    Head of Corporate Content, Signify
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. With 2020 sales of EUR 6.5 billion, we have approximately 39,000 employees and are present in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We achieved carbon neutrality in 2020, have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for four consecutive years and were named Industry Leader in 2017, 2018 and 2019. News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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