AliBaba Tong Wenhong

Jack Ma with Tong Wenhong

The lady in the picture with Jack Ma is Tong Wenhong. She joined Alibaba 16 years ago as a receptionist.

When Jack Ma was allocating company shares, he gave Tong 0.2% shares right saying it will worth 100 billion when Alibaba goes public into the market later. He asked her to just stay in the company, don’t change to other companies and she will get 100 million when Alibaba goes public.

Tong waited years after years but Alibaba never went public. She asked Jack when will Alibaba go public in 2004 and Jack said soon. She asked again in 2006 and Jack Ma said soon, again.

Before Judy Tong Wenhong became Alibaba’s “most inspiring partner,” she served as the company’s receptionist, then customer service representative, and finally, an inexperienced vice president who did not back down in facing tough challenges.

Tong was 30 years old when she joined the Chinese e-commerce hub in 2000.

Without any previous experience in the field, she applied for the post of administrative assistant in the company but did not pass the first interview, according to Women Of China. When she attempted to apply again, she was eventually given a chance to work at the front desk. However, a conflict with a colleague would result in her filing for resignation just one week later.

Despite her shaky start, it was her persistence that would eventually help her chart her destiny within the company. Her colleagues reportedly spoke highly of her foresight and meticulousness at her job as a receptionist.

Many noticed how she would go beyond her daily tasks, mailing Hangzhou-Shanghai train schedules to colleagues on business trips to Shanghai, stocking cold drinks for them during summer or assisting clients who have questions intended for customer services.

A year later, she was transferred to the customer support department. Three months after that, she returned to the administration division, but this time, she was promoted as director.

“It’s a great challenge for me to lead the group because I was just a receptionist in the past,” Tong was quoted as saying.

Her rise through the ranks would continue over the next six years, earning several promotions from managing the customer service center and the human resources department to eventually becoming vice president of different departments between 2007-2013, according to Reuters.

During Tong’s stint as VP in various divisions, she faced numerous challenges that would test her mettle as a leader. Among her notable accomplishments include the West Lake Internet Symposium, a massive event where she successfully facilitated the group’s venture building projects which she effectively oversaw.

In 2014, Tong was among Alibaba’s first 27 partners and one of its nine female partners when the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange. It was then when Alibaba made history as the biggest U.S. IPO ever, raising $21.8 billion for the company and investors.

Tong currently serves as Alibaba’s chief people officer, overseeing talent and organizational culture, including development and strategy within the company.

With Jack Ma’s planned retirement next year, Tong is poised to hold even bigger roles in the years to come as one of Alibaba’s next-generation leaders.

Her rise from holding an entry-level job to one of Alibaba’s 27 partners is a testament to the importance of perseverance and dedication in paving the road to success.

When Alibaba finally went public in the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014, it was worth 245.7 billion. Tong, the former senior receptionist, current Vice President of Alibaba, became a millionaire from a receptionist with 320 million worth.

Alibaba’s $68-a-share IPO price values the entire company at $170.8 billion, making it the 23rd most valuable company in the Standard & Poor, ahead of other tech titans such as Amazon at $150 billion and eBay at $65 billion.

Do you believe in your Leader? Can you stay in a company for 14 years? When the founder is still fighting tirelessly, who are you to complain as a follower? They said to succeed you must be down to earth, never be eager for quick benefits. If you’re sure that there’s water down the well, put all your effort and time at this location. We would rather dig a well with 10 years time than to dig 10 pits.

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