Blog Post

Q&A: Leading with Empathy and Inclusive Values, Lily Wen Hopes to Change Technology Industry Status Quo


Lily, will you give an overview of your background as it relates to your role at FTI Technology?

I’ve spent most of my career working in legal hold and e-discovery consulting, delivering solutions in program, project and product management. I’ve led client engagements across a wide range of matters, including forensic collections, disputes involving emerging data sources and hundreds of custodians, cross-border class actions and other high-stakes matters. Many of these engagements were for clients in the technology industry, including Big Tech. I’ve also held numerous leadership roles, providing team management and training, which is an area of my work that I particularly enjoy.

Does your role within FTI Technology involve similar work?

Yes, I’m focused mostly on e-discovery engagements and client project management for large corporate clients, with a focus on the technology sector. My background has given me a clear view into the operations and challenges typical within large technology corporations, which helps me support clients with managing not only individual matters, but providing advising and team structuring for corporate-level management across multiple projects concurrently. I also consult with law firm clients on e-discovery projects and legal hold best practices.

In addition to my client work, I’ve joined several committees within FTI Technology. I’m working as a diversity, inclusion and belonging champion within the firm and have joined an effort to facilitate small group feedback so that employees at all levels are able to surface issues that leadership can address and evaluate for company-wide improvements.

Aside from your passion for technology, what attracted you to FTI?

FTI Technology has long held the reputation of having the most knowledgeable, well-rounded experts in the e-discovery space, which made the prospect of working here very compelling. But what really convinced me were the conversations I had during my interview process, which showed me that this is really a place that values diversity—when many places don’t. The full team, including leadership, emphasizes the importance of culture and takes real steps to protect it. In consulting, it’s nearly impossible for people to have a work-life balance, but FTI Consulting as a whole is committed to finding ways to make employees’ lives better.

I think it’s so important for organizations to respect everyone’s voice and demonstrate genuine caring for each and every person. That was already happening here at FTI Technology when I was considering joining, and I’m enthusiastically embracing the opportunity to build on that.

It sounds like diversity, inclusion and belonging are important to you. The technology industry broadly has been scrutinized for a lack of positive work environments and hiring and retaining diverse talent. What’s your view on changing this dynamic?

This is absolutely an important issue for me—especially the inclusivity aspect. People are motivated when they see that their contributions count and that the unique things they bring to the table are valued by their team and leadership. By giving people from all walks of life, including junior employees, the opportunity to influence decisions, they’re more likely to believe in themselves as future leaders—which every company needs to ensure a successful long-term outlook.

That’s why I’m investing time in supporting and expanding reciprocal feedback in our organization and making sure that our senior leaders—myself included—remain connected to our teams across all levels and in the weeds of project work. We’re all in this together, and by backing that view up with actions, we’ll continue to grow a culture that attracts and retains a diverse range of talent.

Can you provide examples of how this shows up in your leadership style day-to-day?

I’m like a big kid. I love technology, games and pop culture, and lean on these interests to connect with people of all different ages and life stages. I also treat the people I work with with genuine empathy and care. If they are working late, I am too, so they feel supported and part of a true team. During client work, I tend to be hands-on with junior employees to make sure they are always learning and have the resources they need to complete the work at the highest standards.

In terms of your view of the e-discovery industry, what do you see as the biggest challenges on the horizon?

Emerging data sources are by far the biggest challenge in e-discovery right now. There are many issues, but the two I encounter the most are how to parse data from chat platforms, collaboration tools and cloud-based file shares, etc., as well as how to automate the process for doing so. Each new data source is unique in terms of how the data is stored and can be accessed and the ways data from these sources show up as evidence are different in each case. This makes it really difficult to create machine learning scripts that can be standardized across all of the sources that may be in scope in an e-discovery matter. At the same time, the volume of information that must be collected, processed and reviewed is so large that automation or application of advanced analytics are often the only option for conducting discovery in an efficient and cost-effective way. It’s a real conundrum for our clients right now, and we’re actively growing our team and expertise to help stay ahead of these challenges.

Are there any technology developments in your field that you’re excited about?

I’ve seen some interesting use cases for the use of AI to identify screenshots and images from a dataset and determine if they include any personally-identifiable information. The tools to identify and extract sensitive information from text-based files in e-discovery are well-established, but using analytics for the same purpose on images is very interesting. I see instances where this concept could be expanded to detect other details within photos and use that information to infer facts for a case.

Technology-assisted review is still interesting too. It’s not new, but it’s still not fully understood or embraced by many lawyers. So, I enjoy working with clients to incorporate TAR workflows—especially in matters like Second Requests that involve a high volume of documents and tight timelines—and demonstrating the cost savings that can be achieved.

Is there anything you’d like to share about your life outside of work?

I play the piano and achieved grade 8 at a pretty young age. I also love traveling. My favorite places to go to are Japan, Paris and Capri. I’m a mom of two kids—a five-year-old and a one-year-old. When I’m not working, I’m focused on playing with them and spending time as a family.

The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.