Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Arrives

For seizing the power of renewable energy

When Lijuan Gao first read about the Apollo 11 moon landing as a child, it triggered a sense of fascination. “Such a huge project must have been carefully planned, organized and practiced,” she remembers thinking. 

Now, Gao is engaged in her own imposing scientific project: helping the terrestrial world fully embrace renewable energy. An engineer at the National Institute of Clean-and-Low-Carbon Energy, an R&D organization funded by China Energy Investment Corp., Gao is helping to optimize the group’s output. 

Among other things, Gao helped establish an online system allowing greater visibility into the institute’s CNY1 billion research portfolio, with nearly 100 projects.

“We use the system to precisely and uniformly manage the risks, progress, scope, time, quality and stakeholders of each project, ensuring healthy development,” Gao says. In breaking down the data, she and her teams provide essential tools for prioritization, tailoring quarterly reporting and communication to stakeholders, no matter where they are on the org chart.

Q&A: Lijuan Gao on robots and borderless org structures

What’s the one must-have skill to succeed in The Project Economy?

Current and future project managers should have Project Management Technology Quotient. They must adapt to, manage and integrate various technologies according to the needs of a specific project.

What’s your philosophy for leading projects?

Do the right things and do things right.

What’s one way managing projects will have changed by 2030?

Project management will be more global and intelligent. A borderless organizational structure will make it easier for teams to work together anytime and anywhere. Robots will be responsible for non-critical and tedious tasks, while the baton of critical work will be in the hands of humans.

What famous or historic person would you want on your project team?

Marie Curie. She was a woman of strong convictions and devoted herself to her career and science. She would elevate the team’s initiative, creativity and courage to cope with uncertainty.