Wendy W Fok - Geek Girl Rising
Wendy W Fok
Wendy Fok

Wendy W Fok

Founder, Creative Director and Architect

WE Designs

Years in industry? 8

Who or what inspired your career in tech? How so?
There have been many mentors that have inspired my way through the field of design. During my Master’s program at Princeton, my mentor was Jesse Reiser and Chris Lasch, and then from there I was lucky enough to meet characters like Zaha Hadid, Wolf Prix, Greg Lynn, Patrik Schumacher, Neil Leach, Hani Rashid, and others who are strong in the field of Architecture. Within this spectrum of work, I felt it was difficult to find female mentors; however, I did have Sarah Whiting as my final year semester director of the graduate program and she had made it easy to transition from academic life to work decisions.

What’s been your best career or life “hack” ever?
My life currently is an on-going hack. I’ve been trying to hack my life through the first few years of living on my own in New York, and trying to find a healthy balance between work and life itself. My first real hack was developing an online import and export business on eBay through reselling laptops, while I was working at the Barnard/Columbia University help desk for IT services. This was the first time that I had made a 200% profit through retrofitting laptops, and was able to pay off much of my college tuition through my final year of college.”

WendyFok2What has been your greatest career challenge and how have you handled it?
My greatest career challenge has been juggling my current academic doctoral candidacy, my own practice, and a personal life. I must say that the most difficult aspect of this is all the traveling and balancing how to spend the adequate amount of time within each. I will however divulge that it’s not possible to have it all, but it’s possible to try to juggle it all, as long as you have colleagues (my practice), advisors (my doctoral and academic advisors), and a partner (personal life) that could manage it. I do feel that one day, one of these will merge, whereby I can finally consider one of them the champion.

What is your biggest career success to date? 
I always say that the biggest career success is the one that’s going to happen next. Nonetheless, I’m very happy and thankful for all the awards and nominations that I have obtained within my academic and design career. From the inaugural Digital Kluge Fellowship awarded by the Library of Congress, to an entirely opposite award, like the ADC (Art director’s club) Young Guns, I’ve been really lucky to have been amongst the various individuals that have advanced both the fields of tech and design.

If you could go back in time, what’s one tip you’d give your teenage self? 
Hustle harder, hustle more.

What do you do when you’re not kicking butt at work? 
Travel. The most important aspect of my work and inspiration period is being on the plane. That is the time I find myself at peace.

Flats, heels or kicks?
Kicks

Best career advice book?
James and the Giant Peach was one of my favorite books growing up. Whether or not it’s considered a great career advice book, I do feel that the element of spontaneity and the travel is something that’s worth considering. I have two copies of the first edition, and the illustrations within the books are remarkable.

Who are the women in tech that you most admire and why?
The ladies who founded Girls Who Code and Goldie Blocks come to mind, and several of my colleagues within the field of computational design that I work with also come to mind. I think it’s less about the individual that should be acknowledged for their admiration but the movements that these women have created to generate international and regional interest on the basis of the platforms that they have given birth to.

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