Top-level exec gets results with busy production slate
George Lucas calls Mich Chau “the major driving force in making my dreams come true.”
High praise indeed, but hard to dispute after a year that saw “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” emerge as Lucasfilm’s first hit TV series, production begin on the WWII feature “Red Tails” and a “Star Wars” MMP game nearing its release — not to mention the usual array of groundbreaking vfx from Industrial Light & Magic, including work on the latest “Star Trek” and “Transformers” installments as well as the highly anticipated “Avatar.”
A Singapore native who was educated at Wellesley and Stanford Business School, Chau describes herself as “an intensely curious person” who gets bored easily. As a result, she changed jobs every two or three years before joining Lucasfilm as CFO in 1991.
Chau and Lucas remain very much in tune, which Lucas credits to her willingness to learn the creative side, even spending six months each alongside the toppers of Lucasfilm’s many divisions after becoming president.
But Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello, whose company is partnering with Lucasfilm on the “Old Republic” “Star Wars” game, notes that Chau is a strong and decisive presence in her own right.
“When you work for somebody who’s as bright as the sun, it’s very easy to just live in the shadow,” he says. “She’s far more than that.”
Lucas himself credits her with growing the company’s bottom line without a new “Star Wars” feature and despite the recession and production slump.
“When the hurricane hit Galveston, there was that one house standing on the beach, all by itself,” he says. “Somebody was smart enough to build it out of concrete. We’re the one that’s standing, and that’s due to Mich.”
And today, after 18 years, she’s still not bored at work.
“There’s always a lot of different things going on,” she says. “No one year ever looks like another year. And each time, we get more and more on our plate and get better and better at it. And the results are more and more spectacular.”
IN A NUTSHELL
Job titles: President and COO, Lucasfilm
Role models: “Too many to name.”
Career mantra: “Love what you do. Cultivate innovation. Take risks. Focus. Be transparent. Surround yourself with a great team. Have a clear moral compass. Be curious.”
Leisure pursuits: “Reading — newspapers, magazines, online — whatever I can get my hands on!”
Philanthropic passions: California Healthcare Foundation, the George Lucas Educational Foundation