Business in China

China's most influential women - learn from the best

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Chinese business women

China has rapidly become the second-largest economy in the world with a GDP of over $ 11,4 trillion and continues to be one of the fastest-growing large economies, with a GDP growth rate of 6,5 %. The country also has the world’s largest population and is the biggest exporter. Now seems to be the time to move your business or yourself to China’s business market or even invest in Chinese companies.


The massive growth that China has seen in the last few decades has helped its domestic companies become some of the biggest companies in the world. Not only banks like the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) has made a name in the international market, but also technology companies have gained importance on a national and an international level. With a Silicon Valley of its own, China is home to electronic manufacturers like Huawei (China’s biggest phone maker) and Xiaomi, Tencent Holdings Ltd (China’s biggest music streaming platform) and the Chinese version of Amazon, the Alibaba Group, which holds e-commerce and consumer retail platforms of its own.


However, China is not only home to some of the biggest companies, but also to some of the most successful and influential women. In a time where it is still rare to find women at the very top of businesses, Chinese women have managed to successfully climb the ladder to the very top in some of China’s biggest and most profitable companies.


With Forbes publishing its annual list of the 100 most powerful women in 2017, we present to you China’s Top 5.


Lucy Peng – CEO Ant Financial Services, #34

Lucy Peng is the highest-ranking women in China on Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women”, ranking at #34. She is a co-founder of the Alibaba Group and the executive chairman of Ant Financial Services, the online finance affiliate of the Alibaba Group. Ant Financial Services was founded in 2014 and is made up of Alipay and Alipay wallet, the most powerful e-commerce platform in China for mobile and online payments. The Alipay App boasts more than 450 million active users compared to the around 12 million that use Apple Pay. Ant has also plans for the U.S. financial industry, where the company is expanding its interests, and has already bought the money-transfer service MoneyGram for $880 million and the eye recognition software EyeVerify. Other countries have also peaked Ant’s interest with the company investing in Indian, Thai and Singaporean financial companies. Alibaba also owns, China’s biggest consumer retail site, and Taobao, the Chinese version of ebay. Peng graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Hangzhou Institute of Commerce of Zhejiang Gongshang University.


Jean Liu – CEO Didi Chuxing, #40

China's most successful women

Jean Liu is the chief executive officer of Didi Chuxing Taxi, the leading car-hailing company in China. After a long run alongside Uber to dominate China’s market, Uber sold its China operations for a 20% stake in Didi transforming Didi from a $35 billion taxi company into a global internet powerhouse, with international companies like Apple investing into Didi. At its current valuation, Didi is approaching China’s Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu which, collectively, cater to the world’s largest internet market, and with more than 70% share of the domestic market, Liu has become one of China’s most successful businesswomen. However, her career path towards a business woman wasn’t always that clear. With her father as the founder of Lenovo, Liu decided to study a master’s degree in computer science at Harvard after earning a bachelor’s degree in the same discipline at Peking University. Once graduated, she embarked on a 12-year journey at Goldman Sachs before joining Didi in 2014.


Peng Liyuan – First Lady of China, #51

Peng Liyuan attended the China Conservatory of Music before becoming a famous opera and folk singer. She later married General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping and went on to become China’s First Lady. Since then, she is not only known for her perfect sense of style and prominence on the global stage, but also for her commitment to the nation’s health and education. As an ambassador for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis at the World Health Organization, she has hosted events such as the event for AIDS prevention, which she organized alongside wives from other BRICS countries, and has ensured that similar events take place at over 50 Chinese Universities. Peng Liyuan is one of the most public first ladies in the world.


business women in China

Feng Ying Wang – CEO Great Wall Motor Company Limited, #62

Feng Ying Wang is the CEO and executive director of the car manufacture company Great Wall Motor. With her growing global car business, Wang has started to change the perception that quality cars are not manufactured in China, making it possible to see cars outside of China with the “made in China” label. In 2016, the company increased its sales from the previous year by 26% with more than 1 million cars sold worldwide. Wang is further increasing the company’s product range with the launch of the new premium SUV branch back in April and confirmations of preliminary talks with BMW to produce the Mini in China. With multiple subbrands, Great Wall Motor is introducing a variety of luxury electric and hybrid cars in European and American car shows and has declared an ambition to move to a completely electric portfolio within the coming years. 



Mingzhu Dong – CEO Gree Electric Appliances Inc, #66Chinese female millionaires

Mingzhu Dong is chief executive of China’s largest air conditioning manufacturer Gree Electric Appliances Inc. Dong joined the company back in 1990 as a salesperson and became the president in 2012. Under her leadership, the stock value of the company has grown by 2.300 %, going from a market capitalisation of only £10 million back in 1990 to £18 billion nowadays. The price of the company’s stock has also more than doubled since she took the role as CEO in 2012 (from $1.,6 to $3,65). In a land where everyone of merit quickly earns a nickname, Dong is known as the “Queen of Air Conditioners” and says she hasn’t taken a day off in 27 years.



According to official figures, China outstrips everyone else in just about every metric one can find to measure internet business: its e-commerce market is greater than that of the US, its internet-payments industry accounts for two-thirds of global volumes and it has one-fifth of the world’s smartphone users. And because of China’s dimensions, companies still have huge potential to grow. DidiTaxi, for example, handles 20 million rides per day. This might be three times larger than the global total for ride-hailing apps; however, it only represents 2% of everybody’s daily ride in China.


China thus offers huge potential for growing businesses, whether it’s a start-up or an already established company. And especially for women who struggle to make a successful business career in other countries, China might just be the place to go to. Successful female business leaders might still be rare to find, but women face fewer obstacles in technology companies in China than they do elsewhere. A study by the Cyberspace Administration of China estimates that women founded 55 % of new internet companies in the country. In the US on the other hand, only 22 % of start-ups have one or more women on their founding teams.


Are you ready to take your career to the next level? Then you might want to consider China as your destination.

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