Alibaba grooms young for­eign­ers to be lead­ers of global ex­pan­sion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By HE WEI in Shang­hai hewei@chi­

Train­ing a class of 32 young for­eign em­ploy­ees in lead­er­ship is another sign of Alibaba Group’s am­bi­tious strat­egy for over­seas ex­pan­sion.

The stu­dents, from 14 na­tions, are set to spend a year at the Alibaba Global Lead­er­ship Acad­emy at com­pany head­quar­ters in Hangzhou. There, they will en­gage in hands-on lead­er­ship train­ing, cul­tural im­mer­sion and in­dus­try tours, and serve ro­ta­tional as­sign­ments in dif­fer­ent busi­ness units. The first class be­gan in Oc­to­ber.

When the train­ing is com­pleted, they will be sent to com­pany of­fices in the United States, United King­dom, con­ti­nen­tal Europe, In­dia and South­east Asia, where Alibaba has a grow­ing pres­ence.

The acad­emy aims to train par­tic­i­pants with both a global vi­sion and a deeper un­der­stand­ing of China, ac­cord­ing to Brian Wong, the Alibaba vice-pres­i­dent who over­sees the pro­gram.

The train­ing “will help the com­pany build a strong foun­da­tion for our fu­ture in­ter­na­tional foot­print. It also shows what Chi­nese com­pa­nies are do­ing to en­gage with the rest of the world”, said Wong.

It is a gate­way to “build­ing trust and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing for a mean­ing­ful global im­pact”, ac­cord­ing to com­pany Chair­man Jack Ma. Alibaba has set an am­bi­tious goal of serv­ing 2 bil­lion cus­tomers glob­ally and hav­ing 40 per­cent of its sales from over­seas in the com­ing decade.

They grad­u­ated from lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties like Har­vard, Yale, Ox­ford and Cam­bridge, and were se­lected based on strin­gent cri­te­ria like learn­ing abil­ity, strate­gic and in­no­va­tive think­ing, and cul­tural fit for the com­pany.

Gary Topp, a 31-year old MBA grad­u­ate from the Uni- ver­sity of Chicago, said the com­bi­na­tion of the ed­u­ca­tion and the chance to work in one of China’s most exciting com­pa­nies makes for an at­trac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I just came back from a com­pany tour to the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­tonomous re­gion. It’s amaz­ing to see how ad­vanced e-com­merce and in­ter­net fi­nance are in the de­vel­op­ment of China’s ru­ral ar­eas,” said Topp, who pre­vi­ously worked for rat­ing agency Moody’s in Lon­don and New York be­fore join­ing in Alibaba.

French as­so­ciate Is­abelle Kam said, “The pro­gram, which in­cludes teach­ing Chi­nese his­tory, eco­nom­ics and pol­i­tics, makes me bet­ter un­der­stand Chi­nese cul­ture and the mar­ket, and I get to feel the so­cial im­pact of Alibaba.” Kam said she ex­pects to be sent to Paris af­ter fin­ish­ing the pro­gram.

Xu Jian, founder of De­cide Con­sult­ing, a hu­man re­sources firm, said the acad­emy shows Chi­nese firms are be­com­ing a ma­jor draw for high-cal­iber in­ter­na­tional tal­ent.

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