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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
Career woman shares views on independence
     2015-January-23  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Tan Yifan

    cicitan2011@gmail.com

    ZHOU YUAN, CEO of a China-based coffee chain that serves mainly people in IT, says a woman’s sense of security should come from herself and the key to working for IT giants in such a fast-changing society is to know who you are and what you can contribute.

    Zhou, a Shenzhener in her 30s, chatted with Shenzhen Daily in a corner of her coffee shop in the High-tech Industrial Park in Nanshan District on Jan. 17. She once headed the marketing departments of Tencent Inc., Baidu Inc. and Taobao.com — Chinas three largest IT companies — and is regarded by industry insiders as one of the pioneers of Chinese online marketing.

    Zhou doesn’t see herself as a success, but as a start-up businessperson who believes a brilliant life comes from hard work and curiosity.

    From adwoman

    to IT marketer

    Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wuhan University, Zhou said her dream of making a difference was ignited by David Ogilvy’s “Confessions of an Advertising Man” (1963), which she read in her college years.

    “The book convinced me that admen could change the fate of a company, which was exactly what I wanted to do at that time. Most of my classmates became civil servants or teachers; I went against my parents’ will to be an adwoman,” Zhou said.

    To gain an edge in such a competitive field, she attended a one-year elective course in advertising and was employed by a large advertising firm in Guangzhou.

    “Advertising was already a competitive market more than 10 years ago when I got my first job,” she said. “We had to browse a lot of cases every day and write various ad articles within a short time. You had to be very aggressive and it was easy to feel lonely when you are in constant competition with others.”

    Zhou said that after about three years of work, she wanted more work opportunities. The chance came to her one day when she saw a job advertisement in Shenzhen.

    “It was an ad for a toy company for Tencent. The Tencent contractor produced its mascot — the now famous penguin — and then made a very unprofessional flash ad for the Shenzhen-based IT company,” Zhou said. “Then a question appeared in my mind: how can I make it better?”

    Zhou said Tencent was a small IT company with less than 200 employees in 2002, and they didn’t have a marketing department.

    “So I knocked on Tencent’s door and told the COO what I could do for the company,” she recalled. “Soon, I was hired as the company’s first marketing employee. I was in charge of activity planning and marketing.”

    “It was hard to image what Tencent looks like today. Back then, people were young and had fun in the office. I learned a lot and witnessed things that are now legends in the company. I was on top of the world and saw firsthand how Pony Ma grew the company,” Zhou said.

    Zhou’s time with Tencent ended six years later. “I left it for love,” she said. She was not allowed to work for Tencent anymore after she married a Tencent coworker.

    Online sales and a

    coffee shop business

    After leaving Tencent, Zhou moved to Beijing with her now ex-husband. She was shortly employed by Baidu Inc. as its marketing head, and then she joined Taobao.com in Hangzhou, capital of East China’s Zhejiang Province.

    Zhou said the world just unfolded for her when she stepped into Beijing, China’s capital city.

    “I thought I was lucky to transfer from one IT empire to another,” Zhou said. “But soon I realized that it was not as good as I pictured because the company had a different business focus.”

    “There were many IT companies in Beijing and a lot of Internet engineers. I thought they needed good marketing advice, but, in fact, they were more technique oriented,” she said.

    “Baidu at that time tried to develop support products in addition to their search engine, which wasn’t successful. It seemed to me that they did not know what else a search engine could do.”

    “I had to ride buses for hours to the city center and drag my tired body back to my small apartment. It would be a fun experience for a different person, but I felt I was not valued there,” she added.

    A year later, a job hunter found Zhou and persuaded her to leave her family in Beijing to work for Taobao.com as their new marketing head.

    “People who work with Alibaba were extremely cautious,” Zhou said. “It was a traditional company to me. Although the business was all online, what they did was quite old-fashioned — they sold all kinds of products to customers.”

    “At that time, Tmall [a rival online shop] had just opened. When the first Double-11 event [Nov. 11 was the first annual sale activity on Taobao.com] started, the marketing department had not yet been made an independent department.”

    “Even though we had the Double-11 event, Tmall gained more attention and made more money. Many shop owners began to ask whether we would close Taobao.com. To balance the two platforms, I initiated Double-12 event [on Dec. 12] for the Taobao platform,” Zhou said.

    “Working for Taobao.com was very challenging. You have to be very careful with every decision you make. One small change may affect the whole business. When the WeChat payment platform was launched, the whole company was in a state of war,” Zhou said.

    She was in the middle of that war. But the more she devoted herself to the company, the more confused she became.

    “Gradually, I sensed a new fire burning inside of myself — I didn’t want to be a chess piece anymore; I wanted to control the changes,” she said.

    Zhou quit her job at Taobao.com and returned to her home in Shenzhen.

    She planned to crowdfund a coffee shop, but then she met Xu Dandan, founder of 3W coffee.

    “Xu and I are neighbors and were coworkers at Tencent,” Zhou said. “I talked about my dream of opening a coffee shop and he convinced me to join his.”

    3W coffee is a Beijing-based coffee shop chain that was on the verge of collapse about a year ago. Its sub-company Lagou.com, an online IT job platform, saved the business and now the company has five business modes.

    “Xu and I agreed that the business needed to go back and focus on coffee instead of on IT start-ups and related businesses,” Zhou said. “I want the company to eventually rival Starbucks as a place where people can enjoy coffee and food.”

    Being independent and positive

    Zhou said she once dreamed of relying on a man to support her, but after her divorce, she realized that a woman needs to find her happiness in herself and be confident.

    “I once gave up my career for love and was hurt by it,” she said. “I think the biggest security you can find comes from your own efforts. One needs to search for beauty in life.”

    “Never give up and stay healthy. You don’t have to follow others’ steps. If you live a long life and are happy, you are the winner,” she added.

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