Alibaba's Southeast Asian Unit Has a New CEO, Meet the Leaders Behind Alibaba's International Push
Alibaba Group's Southeast Asian e-commerce subsidiary, Lazada, announced late last week that it has appointed Chun Li as its new CEO. Li initially joined Alibaba in 2014 as the Chief Technology Officer of its B2B business unit. He was appointed Co-President of Lazada in June 2017 and became the CEO of Lazada Indonesia in July 2019.
He will be the company’s third CEO in over two years. His predecessor, Pierre Poignant, will transition to be a special assistant to Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang.
Founded in 2012, Lazada quickly scaled and established operations throughout Southeast Asia. This growth caught the eye of Alibaba and spurred the Chinese e-commerce titan to buy a controlling stake in Lazada in 2016 to establish a foothold in the lucrative region.
Since buying Lazada, Alibaba has spent at least $4 billion to grow the company, it also revamped Lazada’s underlying technology and transplanted multiple Alibaba executives to help guide the unit. As Alibaba looks to continue the expansion of its operations outside of China, it will rely on several key execs to ensure it doesn’t falter.
Zhang took the high-profile job as the company's CEO in 2015, shortly after it was vacated by the company’s founder, Jack Ma. He also took Ma’s position as Chairman of the company in September 2019. Despite the big shoes Zhang has had to fill, he has proven an effective leader and continued to expand Alibaba’s reach. Under Zhang’s leadership, Alibaba has grown its presence around the world, with an emphasis on growth in Europe.
As one of the company’s initial 14 employees, Trudy Dai has been an essential part of the Alibaba team since the company’s founding. She was appointed as the President of Alibaba’s B2B business in January 2017, where she oversees business units including the company’s international wholesale marketplace, a domestic wholesale marketplace, and a global retail marketplace called AliExpress. In this role, Dai has influence over much of Alibaba's foreign operations and international expansion. In 2019, the company opened its first physical retail store on the continent under the AliExpress brand, making Dai a key figure in the company’s foreign growth efforts.
Judy Tong has served as Alibaba’s Chief People Officer since January 2017, where she oversees talent and organizational culture, including development and strategy. Outside of her role overseeing Alibaba’s talent and culture, Tong led the formation and operations of Cainiao Network, the company’s logistics affiliate. This command over the day to day life of Alibaba as well as her in-depth involvement in core parts of the company’s business makes Tong an essential part of Alibaba’s continued success, with or without Ma.
These executives have already proved instramental in the growth of Alibaba so far and their leadership will be critical as the company continues its expansion outside of China.
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