Two distinguished guest speakers addressed at the Division of Business and Management’s (DBM) high table dinner on 29 October 2019. Vice President of Alibaba Group and Executive Director as well as CEO of Intime Retail Group, Mr Chen Xiaodong, provided insights into the Chinese 'new retail’ industry. In addition, Vice Chairman and President of Xpeng Motors, Dr Gu Hongdi, spoke of the smart electric vehicle industry.


Chen Xiaodong: Internet will free the decision-making time for its users

Mr Chen has more than 10 years of experience in financial management and capital markets. His speech was themed 'Digital upgrade of traditional physical retail'.

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Mr Chen Xiaodong shares his experience in business

As one of the ‘Best CEO’s in China Retail Industry’ (by Institutional Investor worldwide in 2016), Chen Xiaodong has been leading the Intime Retail Group since 2009. After Intime was privatised by Alibaba Group in 2017, he focused on the ‘new retail’ strategy, which is a strategy that welcomes the digital restructuring of department stores.

Intime wants its traditional stores to have ’new brains’. It has equipped itself with big data technology and successfully found a new breakthrough in the reform of the traditional retail industry. Chen Xiaodong said, “Customers can get access to information online pretty easily nowadays, and they won’t need any experts to tell them what to buy.” 

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Q&A session

Last year’s 11.11 shopping festival, the quickest order only took 8 minutes to arrive at the customer’s door. As the Vice President of Alibaba Group, Chen Xiaodong said that the infrastructure construction and the big data analysis contributed to the achievements of Alibaba’s ‘mini goal’. With the new technologies, they can now locate the customers precisely even before they place an order.

Other than that, developers dedicated their time during the shopping carnival. During the Q&A session, Chen Xiaodong teased that he had to turn his office into a software engineers’ bedroom because they stayed up late at the company.


Gu Hongdi: Focusing on the future and what interests you

Dr Gu Hongdi predicted the development tendencies of the smart electric vehicles and shared the technology Xpeng developed, which was tailored for China’s challenging driving conditions.

What makes a vehicle truly ’smart‘? It needs to achieve the following three things: deep learning, automation, and being able to update by itself, says Gu Hongdi. In the future 10 years, smart vehicles can free our hands from driving in certain environments.

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Dr Gu Hongdi talks about the development of electric vehicle industry

Dr Gu Hongdi joined Xpeng Motors in March 2018. He is responsible for Xpeng's strategy, financing, fundraising, investment and international partnerships. Prior to that, Dr Gu was the Chairman of the Asia Pacific Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan and a member of the J.P. Morgan’s Global Strategic Advisory Council. Dr Gu holds an MBA from Yale University, a PhD in Biochemistry from the Medical School at the University of Washington, and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Oregon.

From doing academic research to working on Wall Street, and now to the electric vehicle industry, Gu Hongdi has made important contributions in numerous fields. He said to the students “If you want to change the world, focus on your interests, and look into the future.”

Other high table guests who attended the dinner included UIC Vice President (Academic Affairs) Prof Chen Zhi, Associate Vice President Prof George Chuxiong Wei, Academic Registrar Prof Li Jianhui, Dean of DBM Prof Stella Cho, and Associate Deans of DBM Prof Wilson Li as well as Dr Donna Chan.

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(from left) Prof Wilson Li, Prof George Wei, Dr Gu Hongdi, Prof Chen Zhi, Mr Chen Xiaodong, Prof Stella Cho, Prof Li Jianhui and Dr Donna Chan 

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Chairperson of the high table dinner Prof Stella Cho introduces the guests

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Erhu and piano performance 'Horse race' by Year 1 BA's Cao Wenjin and Year 2 ACCT's Fu Qike

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Singing performance 'Santa Lucia' by Year 1 ACCT student Ye Zihan

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Year 4 ACCT student Li Xushan gives a closing remark

Reporter: Covee Wang
Photographers: Covee Wang, Deng Bowen (Y2 IJ)
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He, Lauren Richardson
(from MPRO)