Co-Founder of LLVision and Fullweb Weekly, Julien Buty is a SUPINFO alumnus from the class of 2009. After a first year of study at SUPINFO France, Julien was part of the first batch of students to join SUPINFO China. He stayed on the Tianjin Campus for 2 years before returning to France, and graduated with a Double Master of Science thanks to SUPINFO’s partnership with Oxford Brookes University.
Hello Julien, can you introduce yourself?
I just turned 30 and I have been 10 years in China so far.
After graduating in 2009 from Oxford Brookes, I booked a single trip ticket to Beijing and I’ve lived there since.
I started different ventures myself, before to take a « start-up leave » for 2 years as Technology Director for Lowe Profero.
I am now back at it again, acting as Co-Founder and Director of Engineering at LLVision, where we build wearable tech devices.
It has been 10 years that you’ve been living in China. We can see that you love China, are there any interesting experiences of your life in China you want to share with us?
A lot of funny things happened to me in China, just like to about every foreigner who stays here long enough. I clearly remember being stared at several hours straight by about 5 people, during a 24h train trip to Xi’an. Also being greeted with a hug by a random drunk guy in the streets of Shanghai telling me « Hallelujah ». And of course the classic, being asked to take part in a group photo by and with Chinese tourists. Lots of fun.
On a more serious note, from my experience living here, I found that China usually quickly polarises people. After what I call the « honey moon » period where nearly all new-comers find it amazing, which usually last about 2 years, most will either accept it and stay, or return home.
Was it difficult to find your first job in China? How did you make the job hunting?
I found my internship in 2006 in Shanghai thanks to the French community there.
The French world is quite small here in China, people come to know each other rather quickly.
I simply asked for internship to HR departments at several French companies in Shanghai.
My second internship was found via a former colleague recommending me to another French company.
You worked in IT field for years, what are the qualities of IT engineers that companies require the most?
Problem solving is often the key to many things in our profession.
Most people can deliver as expected during the normal course of business, but very few can bring value when issues arise.
Being able to consistently help the company when it meets problems turns you into a mentor. A mentor employees and management will rely upon to help them perform better.
Often also, problems are invisible to most, taking initiatives to tell people there is a better way to operate is also a quality much appreciated.
As you lived in France and China, what are the most significant differences between China and French business cultures?
Business in itself remains of course identical, but it is true that in its day-to-day operation there are some differences.
Chinese are, I found, more formal when addressing partners and external collaborators, even several months after knowing each other.
In China, it is also socially acceptable for employees to take a 30min power nap after lunch, right at their desk. Some bring their favorite pillow at work just for it (!).
Besides these 2 main differences, I would say that the other differences we can often read in the media are slowly disappearing. The younger generation won’t do so much baijiu drinking with collaborators, is more direct in expressing themselves, and are more vigilant of their business impact on their employees’ wellbeing and the environment.
Why create Fullweb? Can it really help students to develop their IT knowledge?
Fullweb grew out of my numerous exchanges with developers of every realm.
The software industry evolves at break-neck speed and makes it often challenging for one to remain up to date and relevant.
Any suggestion or advice for French students who want to study and then work abroad?
One of the best parts of SUPINFO is clearly its network of campuses all over the world.
As a SUPINFO student, one should embrace this opportunity, to get out of his/her comfort zone and learn more about the world and oneself.
So my single advice is simple, that is: don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone.
And for Chinese students?
Similarly, gaining experience abroad can only be a plus in your curriculum before entering the very competitive job market.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I am sure that both French and Chinese students will find this interview inspiring and helpful. I wish you a lot of success in your future work.