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Wahaha's Kelly Zong: I see further into the future than my father

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2012-10-08
  • 16:52 (GMT+8)
Zong Fuli is Wahaha founder Zong Qinghou's daughter. (Photo/CFP)

Zong Fuli is Wahaha founder Zong Qinghou's daughter. (Photo/CFP)

Kelly Zong, the daughter of Zong Qinghou, who founded and still runs Chinese beverage giant Hangzhou Wahaha Group, said in a recent interview with the Shanghai-based First Financial Daily she is different from her father as she looks deeper into the company's future and values teamwork far more.

This second generation of Chinese entrepreneurs has always attracted public attention, the newspaper said. Ms Zong, who was born in 1982 and is now the president of Wahaha Group, is no exception.

According to a Wahaha employee, unlike Zong Qinghou, who rarely dismisses employees, Kelly Zong was known to let people go if they failed to meet the demands commensurate with their position.

Several people working at Wahaha also told the newspaper that while Zong Qinghou has a more flexible management style, Kelly Zong, who studied in the United States, puts more emphasis on running the company by the book.

Zong acknowledges such differences in style and said she expects her employees to be diligent and responsible and values team effort and adherence to company rules.

In September, Kelly Zong donated 70 million Chinese yuan (US$11.13 million) to set up the Fuli Institute of Food Science (Fuli is Kelly Zong's Chinese name) at Zhejiang University.

Unlike donations made by other businesspeople to schools and universities, which are often used for building and facilities, Kelly Zong impressed the university with her collaborative approach towards hiring new faculty, designing the curriculum, and the direction of the institute, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, Kelly Zong said she thought Wahaha, which has a brand value of 100 billion yuan (US$15.90 billion), lacked a long-term strategic plan, especially since her father has admitted that he only thinks about the next day and not the future.

However, a source in Wahaha told the newspaper that Zhong Qinghou, who has been running the company for 25 years, is still full of energy and has no plans to retire.

Asked about her view on the transformation of a family business into a company run by professional managers, Kelly Zong said Wahaha is so big now that it is no longer a company that belonged to one person or one family, and is run by a team and belongs to society.

Tan Changchun, a management and marketing expert at the Beijing-based China Stone Management Consulting Group, said the growing number of second generation of Chinese entrepreneurs is more familiar with Western management styles and lacks their parents' traditional and somewhat softer approach.

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