Guess who is the most influential, rich and powerful women in China? Well, according to Forbes, the highest ranking woman in China, in 2015, goes to the co-founder of Alibaba, Lucy Peng, also known as, Peng Lei. In this year’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list, more than half are American and only six are Chinese!
Discreet and Humble Women of Power
As one of the most influential women in the world of technology and business in general, Peng has kept a low profile. She rarely gives interviews and avoids talking about her personal life in public. Peng who was born in Hangzhou, graduated with a Business Management degree from Zhejiang Gongshang University in 1994. Former Economics teacher at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, Lucy joined Alibaba at the very beginning of the company, in 1999. She met Jack Ma, today known as the “godfather” of Alibaba, through her husband, Sun Danyu. At that time, Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba with only $60,000. Lucy, co-founder and Chief People Officer of Alibaba Group, is nowadays mainly responsible of Human Resources where she is successfully managing talents. Today, she is Alibaba’s most powerful women executive with an estimated net worth of USD 1.2 billion.
Culture is DNA
Often referred in the press as Ma’s right hand, Peng describes her primary mission in the company: “sustaining the development of Alibaba’s corporate infrastructure and the preservation of corporate culture, amid the company’s accelerating growth“. She has a very special role in the company and is perceived by employees as the “guardian angel” : “I take care of the people and the forces that unite them.” Lucy strongly believes that Culture is the most invaluable aspect of Alibaba. Unlike a business, culture cannot be planned or produced. Peng Lei argues that corporate culture has to “emerge” as the company grows, and then shaped to reflect the core values of the business! Indeed, Alibaba new corporate culture includes passing the torch to younger generation : “The internet belongs to young people” , declared the eccentric Jack Ma, who is also convinced that the days of pure patriarchy are gone as we have entered in a new age of female-run enterprises.
Interestingly, only 5% of America’s tech companies are led by women. Despite the gender problem in the tech-industry, the outlook for women in Technology keeps improving with renowned names like Marissa Mayer (Yahoo), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Susan Wojcicki (Youtube), Ruth Porat (Google), Amy Hood (Microsoft) or Angela Ahrendts (Apple). All of these women are serving as the architects for modern technology as does Lucy Peng in the East!
Peng Lei is undeniably one of the most influential women in business not only in China but globally : “I do not expect the Alibaba team to care only about business, profit, projects and figures. I wish we can accomplish a great goal and gain an unforgettable experience.”
Peng Lei: A model for women-entrepreneurs in the East? Post your comments below!