I visited the Alibaba Global Leadership Academy (articles here and here) and sent a couple of this year’s students some questions. Below are the answers of Chrissy Hu.
Born and raised in the Silicon Valley, I grew up around technology. I started my career in this space as part of J.P. Morgan’s Internet Investment Banking team in San Francisco, and was quickly drawn by the excitement of Asia. I moved to J.P. Morgan’s Asia Internet Investment Banking team in Hong Kong, and two years later, to Lazada in Southeast Asia, to what now has become one of the key platforms for Alibaba’s globalization.
Q1: How did you hear about the AGLA program?
A stroke of luck!
I met Brian Wong, founder of AGLA, during his tour of Southeast Asia. Once I heard his vision, I had to apply.
Q2: What groups have you worked in at Alibaba?
Ant Financial & Tmall
Q3: Describe your experiences in these groups and what you did.
At Ant Financial, I was part of the Global Business Development team focusing on building Alipay online. I worked closely with global online platforms, such as Booking.com and Agoda, grow their business on Alipay.
At Tmall, I am part of the Strategic Key Accounts team. I work closely alongside category teams to help our biggest global brands define and execute strategies to accelerate their business on Tmall.
Q4: How is Alibaba different, if at all, to companies in your home country?
In every way you can imagine and much more.
Q5: What has been the most surprising thing about being at Alibaba? What didn’t you expect?
How Alibaba employees live and breathe Alibaba. Far more meaningful than simply napping in the office, or taking meals in the canteen, but rather a deep-seeded convergence of life and work that keeps the Alibaba world spinning.
Q6: What has been your favorite thing about AGLA? Whether part of the program, just daily work, small or big?
Hands down, authentic experience.
We had tea with rural villagers to teach them about the Rural Taobao mobile app. We picked and packed with temp workers in the Alibaba warehouse. We had BBQ with small business owners to understand how Alibaba can help.
Q7: What has been the biggest adjustment to living or working in China?
Adapting to new innovations.
Raised in the Silicon Valley, I thought I was experienced with new innovations. However, I was proven wrong very early on. When I first arrived, I stopped by a street vendor to buy a bag of chestnuts. As usual, I was ready to pay with cash. I only realized how new a world I had stepped into when he told me, no – he only accepted Alipay.
Q8: What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday in China?
Hosting dinners with friends on my balcony. Enjoying a cheese platter – a luxury in Hangzhou – while exchanging our stories working in China.
Q9: What will you do after you’re done?
Great things, hopefully.
I love working at the intersection of East and West, particularly in areas of innovation. Beyond this, what exactly I will do isn’t certain. Given how quickly things change at Alibaba, it is too early to tell.
Q10: What is your favorite book, TV show or vacation spot?
Carmel-by-the-Sea in California – my favorite, and just as importantly, my dogs’ favorite vacation spot.
Photo courtesy of Alibaba