Daniel Zhang was born in 1972. He enrolled in Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and pursued a diploma in accounting. After school, he secured a job with PriceWaterhouseCoopers where he worked as a senior manager at global auditor and then a chief financial officer at Shanda Interactive Entertainment, a leading Chinese developer of online games (Moskvitch, 2018).
In the year 2007, he joined Alibaba Group where he was hired on as chief financial officer of Taobao, a Chinese online marketplace, which allows makers and sellers to connect with customers directly. Later, he became the president of Tmall, which was spun off from Taobao as a platform for brands and retailers to sell their products. Tmall grew quickly into China’s largest B2C marketplace (Fleming, 2019).
Daniel Zhang climbed the ladder in Alibaba to Chief operating officer and in the year 2015, he took over the position as the chief executive officer of Alibaba and now he is expected to replace Jack Ma as the chairman of Alibaba on 10th of September 2019. Daniel has demonstrated excellent performance since he took over as the chief executive officer of Alibaba in 2015 (Moskvitch, 2018). For the 13 consecutive quarters, Alibaba has enjoyed consistent and sustainable growth under the leadership of Daniel Zhang, with stock prices increasing despite Chinese economy cooling in recent years. He has been the man behind 87 per cent growth in the stock of the company and Alibaba addition of $200 billion to its market value, which brings a total of $420 billion far much above its rival Tencent since the year 2015.
There numerous are achievement attributable to Daniel Zhang. First, he developed New Retail concept for Alibaba, by fusing physical and e-commerce in 2015, and now Alibaba’s futuristic Hema Supermarket is operating in over 13 cities in China, making deliveries in less than 30 minutes. Second, the biggest achievement of Daniel Zhang is the creation of Singles’ day in 2009 which is celebrated across the world every year on the 11th of November. This is the largest shopping day in the world and in 2018 Singles’ Day, Alibaba made sales worth $30.8 billion (Fleming, 2019).
Daniel Zhang is a man many look forward to imitating from because of the exceptional leadership skills and vast experience in leadership. First, he worked with Pwc where he gained a lot of experience as the auditor and understood more on the principle of accounting. His journey continued where gained experience in Shanda and later joined Alibaba which he has really demonstrated leadership ability by leading the path and initiating some of the programs that Alibaba enjoys today and are celebrated by the corporate world in general. He took responsibility when he was the Chief executive officer of the Taobao and rolled out B2C program on 11th of November, with the main idea of expanding the business to consumers and this has been successful endeavor (Thornhill, 2017). He has hands-on experience in leadership and this is clearly demonstrated by how he has run the Alibaba since he assumed the position of Chief executive officer in 2015 and since then, the company has been making profits and has also rolled out multiple innovative programs that continue to shape the company to higher heights of performance Mr. Zhang skills, experience and temperaments compliments those of Mr. Jack Ma.
It has not been easy and it is not a walk in the path to run the largest e-commerce company successfully for about four years. There is must be some of the guiding principles that one follows which if they are applied, the company is likely to perform better much more than its competitors. In view of this, I consider the several principles that are applied by Daniel Zhang which is equivalent to the leadership styles that he uses and has proven to be fruitful. First, he marks clearly the difference between managers and leaders. According to him, managers are concerned with the operation of the business and results, but leaders have a mission to lead the team. He, therefore, believes that Alibaba needs leaders and that is what they promote and work to develop (Zhang, 2018). Second, competition with oneself is the pillar that one should consider when in the business. Alibaba need to think about its products and services and innovate around them on what it can do better. Third, he considers the future while making decisions because he has a strong belief that opportunities are in future and planning should be made on how to seize those opportunities. Fourth, Daniel Zhang is a man that believes in the power of decision making. He believes that, in the business, it is crucial to make the critical decision even if it means making a loss rather than staying at the point of indecisiveness.
Fifth, Daniel Zhang has a principle that determines the kind of employees that are needed. He says that he is concerned to have workers who are ready to take the path of adventure rather than sitting at the place of comfort and stability. Employees that are ready and willing to take risks, think critically and creatively on what Alibaba can offer to the customers and not how much they (employees) can gain from Alibaba at their place of comfort (Zhang, 2018). Sixth, Daniel Zang believes that the customer comes first before anything else. He also believes that business needs to treat people well and offer an opportunity for employees to grow and not to be seen as a means to grow the business. Lastly, Zhang has principally believed that culture starts with individual and people have to be good. According to him, before realizing a good corporate culture, you have to first be a good person.
As one of the former chairmen of Alibaba, Daniel Zhang leads Alibaba to a new peak step by step by constantly innovating products, seizing future opportunities, making decisive decisions and recognizing excellent employees. He sticks to all of them and overlooks none of them because they define his style of leadership.
Fleming, S. (2019). Who is Alibaba’s incoming chairman, Daniel Zhang? Retrieved 10, May
2019 from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/who-is-alibabas-incoming-chairman-daniel-zhang/
Moskvitch, K. (2018). Everything you need to know about Daniel Zhang, Alibaba’s new king.
Retrieved 10, May, from https://www.wired.co.uk/article/alibaba-new-boss-daniel-zhang-profile
Thornhill, J. (2017). Daniel Zhang of Alibaba on leading a supercharged empire. Retrieved 10,
May 2019 from https://www.ft.com/content/5a14153c-6d53-11e7-b9c7-15af748b60
Zhang, D. (2018). Compete with yourself and other tips for leaders from Alibaba CEO Daniel
Zhang. Retrieved 10, May 2019 from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/04/7-leadership principles-from-alibaba-ceo-daniel-zhang.html