Wenmiao Yu is the Co-Founder of Quantum Dice, a VC-backed University of Oxford spin-out, enabling encryption through a compact, high-speed and self-certifying random number generator (QRNG).
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
I studied chemistry at the University of Oxford and was fortunate enough to immediately have the opportunity to co-found Quantum Dice through the StEP Ignite programme. After four years, I’m still at Quantum Dice where I am currently the Director of Business Development focused on translating scientific innovation into marketable products.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
This Monday began with a call with one of the partners at iQuila to discuss product integration and plan for the UK National Emergency Services Show that we will be exhibiting at together. iQuila is a network security company based in the UK with whom we collaborated to build a Quantum-enhanced Layer 2 encryption solution (basically the next step up from a VPN that can be used to secure the connection between remote workers and an HQ).
Then I had the pleasure of welcoming high-school students Diya, Tom and Aniyanth to Quantum Dice. They have been selected to take part in our inaugural Summer Schools Shadowing Scheme. I particularly enjoyed setting up this scheme as I noticed that there was a lack of funded opportunities for students between 16-18 years old to engage with companies who are commercialising quantum technologies. As quantum technologies is still a relatively nascent industry with a lot of start-ups spearheading new technology development, I hope that our shadowing scheme will help students to understand how quantum technology products are developed and brought onto the market.
My co-founders and I took the students for lunch at the Yellow Submarine, a wonderful charity/café nearby that provides employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities and autism. Over toasties, we were able to have a candid discussion about entrepreneurship, university choices, and about how careers can sometimes be impossible to plan as life will throw curveballs!
After lunch, I had some quiet time to catch up with emails, and to review a web-blog that Katie, our Marketing and Communications Lead had sent over. I had a couple of internal meetings over the afternoon. An especially exciting one was a progress catch-up about a space project that we are currently working on… more to be announced soon.
I finished the day with a block of quiet time to prepare for an upcoming panel discussion about emerging technologies at the Modern Affluence Summit, which focuses on how we can best leverage the greatest intergenerational transition of wealth predicted to be in excess of $68 trillion, that is taking place.
This is a slightly different style of conference than the industry specific ones which we normally attend (think cybersecurity, space, quantum) – I’m looking forward to introducing the concept of quantum technologies, Quantum Random Number Generators in particular, and discussing how they are already impacting our world.
As it was a gloriously sunny evening in Oxford, I met up with a friend who is doing her PhD here for ice-cream and a walk by the river in Christchurch Meadows. One of the things that I like best about Oxford is how much nature there is in the city centre.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
For me work-life balance is reached when I am fully present both at work and when away from work. One thing that I consciously do outside of work is to turn off all notifications on my phone so that I can give my full attention to my current activity, whether it is going for a solo hike or spending time with family and friends.
Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?
I’ve started volunteering on a mental health project for EVR, a charity whose aim is to educate, redress and prevent structural racism and inequalities affecting East and Southeast Asian communities in the UK. I have a hybrid sense of identity having moved to the UK when I was 10 and sometimes struggled with the clashes of cultural norms whilst growing up. Volunteering for a charity like EVR is a great way to keep my mind occupied on addressing a societal challenge that is completely different from work.
We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?
Humankind by Rutger Bregman and The Second Mountain by David Brooks!
Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Having a bit of time to read afterwork helps me to switch off my work mindset before getting to spend time with friends and family.