Red Star

Jean Liu

Didi Chuxing’s driven president

jean liu

Liu Qing, or Jean Liu, was born in 1978 in Beijing. As the only daughter of Liu Chuanzhi (see WiC291), the founder of Lenovo, China’s biggest computer firm, it seemed only natural that Liu junior would head into the computer industry. But she says that her decision to study computer science at Peking University was actually inspired by Bill Gates’ 1996 publication The Road Ahead. She stuck to the same subject for a Master’s degree at Harvard, but finally opted for investment banking after a two-month internship in 2001.

Giddy over Goldman

“The happiest day in my life was when I received the offer from Goldman Sachs,” Liu last year told Sina Finance. That was in 2002, following 18 rounds of interviews. After an unexpected request to sing My Heart will Go On during the last round, Liu began her career as a junior analyst.

It took more than a sweet voice to make the grade at the bank. Liu told China Daily she worked up to 140 hours a week. “I looked like I was 42 years old when I was only 24,” she told the newspaper. She kept at it for 12 years, becoming one of the youngest managing directors in the bank’s history. Then she made a dramatic career switch, joining Didi Dache, which was then backed by Tencent.

Why is she in the news?

Liu is said to have first approached Didi Dache in September 2013, looking to invest Goldman’s money. She was reported to be surprised when the start-up twice refused her offers. “I was quite intrigued by the fact that they… had so many investors chasing them,” she told the press.

Liu has now brought her “Lean In” work ethic and rainmaking skills to Didi, where she masterminded the company’s fundraisings and its audacious merger with Alibaba’s Kuaidi, a deal that created China’s dominant car-hailing app Didi Kuaidi (now known as Didi Chuxing).

As the company’s president Liu has maintained a punishing work schedule that is said to include leaving the office at 9pm to put her child to bed, before resuming company meetings late into the night.

But in late September she revealed she was facing a major health setback. In an internal email she told staff she was being treated for breast cancer. “The cancer won’t have too much impact on my life and work,” she said defiantly, before taking a two-month absence for treatment.

Liu returned to her post at the end of December and she made commercial headlines again this month as Didi Chuxing announced a groundbreaking deal with China Merchants Bank for car purchase financing (see this week’s Auto Industry story). Liu attended the signing ceremony and press conference.

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