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10 Things You Didn't Know about Lucy Peng

Lucy Peng is a Chinese billionaire who co-founded the Alibaba Group. As such, she has held a number of important positions in said company, with an excellent example being how she is the executive chairwoman of its Ant Financial Services.

1. Lucy Is Her English Name

It isn't uncommon for Chinese people to use an English name when moving about in the English-speaking world. In Peng's case, her Chinese name would be Peng Lei, with the Peng being her family name and Lei being her personal name. Meanwhile, Lucy would be the English name that she chose to use when moving about in the English-speaking world.

2. Born in Chongqing, China

Peng was born in Wanzhou District of Chongqing, China. For those who are unfamiliar, Chongqing is one of the four cities under the direct administration of China's central government. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that it is a place of importance, as shown by its role in spearheading the development of the country's western regions. Meanwhile, Wangzhou District is a populous part of Chongqing's urban core that sits on the upper reaches of the Three Gorges.

3. Studied Business Administration

Education-wise, Peng studied business administration at the Hangzhou Institute of Commerce, which has since been renamed Zhejiang Gongshang University. In recent times, the school has put a huge emphasis on international cooperation, with the result that it now boasts partnerships with more than 90 universities as well as research institutions from a wide range of countries. On top of that, it has cooperation programs with more than 60 universities as well as research institutions, which mean faculty exchanges, student exchanges, and mutual accreditation of credits.

4. Went into Teaching

Having said that, Peng didn't go into business with her degree in business administration. Instead, she decided to start teaching at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, which is a school that lives up to its name by specializing in economic disciplines. In total, Peng spent five years teaching at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics before she decided to stop.

5. Became a Co-Founder Alongside Her Husband

When Peng was still teaching, she met Sun Tongyu, with whom she got married, got divorced for a short time, and then got married a second time. Both of them were involved in the founding of the Alibaba Group. However, it is interesting to note that this wasn't particularly unusual. After all, there were a number of husband-and-wife teams involved, with the result that a full third of the co-founders are women.

6. Became Involved Because of Shared Values

It is interesting to note that Peng became involved with the co-founding of Alibaba because of shared values. Basically, Jack Ma didn't need all of the co-founders to have some kind of expertise or experience related to the company's way of making money. Instead, he also prized shared values, which in Peng's case, happened to be a combination of humility and passion that she developed from her time as a teacher. Besides that, it helped that Peng's husband had already worked with Ma, which presumably played a major role in them getting involved as well.

7. Found a Niche for Herself in HR

Having said that, Peng went on to become a member of the core team. This is because she was the one who founded Alibaba's HR department, with the result that she went on to run it as well. Generally speaking, HR departments are very important for start-ups. In the earliest stages, entrepreneurs can get away with handling the related functions on their own. However, that changes by the time that the start-up has undergone significant expansion because what was manageable for a small team becomes much less so when there are hundreds or even thousands of employees running around. On top of that, the human factor is one of the most critical for those pursuing success in the business world, with the result that HR departments become critical for ensuring that the right people fill the right positions. Something that can either make or break start-ups.

8. Set Up a Mom and Pop Model

Speaking of which, Peng was the one who set up what is called the mom and pop model at Alibaba. For those who are curious, this means each group having a pair of executives with one executive playing the role of the mom and the other executive playing the role of the pop. The mom is responsible for encouraging teamwork as well as a general sense of enthusiasm in the group. Meanwhile, the pop is responsible for evaluating performances on the basis of numbers. This setup is interesting because no business can succeed without both side of things.

9. Headed Up Ant Financial

In any case, Peng has also headed up various components of the Alibaba Group at various points in time. For instance, she ran Ant Financial, which offers digital financial services for consumers as well as small business owners. It has a strong interest in providing sustainable services of this kind to unserved as well as underserved segments, which in turn, means that it has a strong interest in innovation as well. After all, traditional financial services haven't been very good for unserved and underserved segments, which is why they are unserved and underserved segments in the first place. Due to this, innovation can be a great way for interested parties to secure these people as customers by enabling more unorthodox practices.

10. Headed Up Lazada

Similarly, Peng also ran Lazada for a time. In short, Lazada is an e-commerce platform that operates in Southeast Asia, with the result that it now has operations in the six countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It is a relatively new e-commerce platform, seeing as how it was founded in 2012. As a result, it will be interesting to see how it grows in the times to come, particularly since Southeast Asia is undergoing change at a rapid rate. In total, Peng spent just nine months in the position of CEO of Lazada, which resulted in some speculation about the reasoning at the time.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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