May 20, 2020

Alibaba invests further $803mn in logistics affiliate Cianiao, expected revenue rises

China
Jack Ma
Ecommerce
Alibaba
2 min
Alibaba invests further $803mn in logistics affiliate Cianiao, expected revenue rises

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has invested an additional $803mn in logistics affiliate Cianiao, prompting Alibaba's predicted annual revenue to rise to 49-53%, up from 45-49% previously.

In the third quarter this year, Alibaba’s sales rose from $7.87bn to $8.3bn, while net income rose by 146%.

On November 11th, sales are expected to soar as Alibaba hosts its annual online shopping festival, the largest of its kind in the world. “Singles Day” will put hundreds of thousands of products on offer with discounts across Alibaba’s platforms and last year $17.8bn worth of transactions were made in the 24 hours of the festival.

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Alibaba’s core commerce business rose 63% year on year. This includes online marketplaces Taobao and Tmall, as well as its international businesses, AliExpress (which targets European markets) and Singapore-based Lazada, which Alibaba increased its stake in this year, now owning 83%.

Alibaba has also reported that users of its Taobao and Tmall smartphone apps have increased by 20mn to a total of 549mn in the past four months.

In addition, the company’s cloud computing unit, Alibaba Cloud, reported an increase in revenue of almost 100%, reaching $450mn.

According to the South China Morning Post, Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhan Yong stated: “one of our top initiatives is enabling Chinese brands to sell directly to consumer around the world… globalisation continues to be top growth driver.”

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Jun 9, 2021

Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business

DigitalTransformation
AsiaSchoolofBusiness
smartskills
Leadership
Kate Birch
3 min
Teaching the MIT Sloan Executive Education program at Asia School of Business, Prof. Padurean talks innovation, smart skills and digital transformation

As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?

In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.

You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?

They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.

Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening. 

I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something. 

How important are smart skills in leadership today?

Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.

I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other. 

So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?

Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’. 

Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here

 

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