Company: Gree Electric Appliances
Last year’s position: 5
Sector: Household goods
“Where Sister Dong walks, no grass grows.” So the saying goes of Dong Mingzhu, chief executive of China’s largest manufacturer of household air conditioners. And it rings true: Dong has presided over Gree Electric Appliances’ growth from an obscure plant in Zhuhai, southern China, to the global force it is today.
Dong is a corporate leader whose reputation is rich with anecdote, many of them deriving from Regretless Pursuit, her account of her rise and a bestseller in China.
She started with Gree as a sales manager, rising through the position of sales director to become chief executive – earning a formidable reputation for toughness.
Dong is an outspoken believer in the importance of investment in research and development to ensure that the country can move from its position as a world-class manufacturer under the “made in China” brand, to an innovator earning a “created in China” sobriquet.
Gree provided the air conditioning for the 2010 Fifa World Cup stadium, and has enlisted Jackie Chan, the action film star, to feature in television advertisements – moves that could be seen as an attempt to boost the company’s international profile.