Chairman’s personal touch drives firm forward

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Chairman’s personal touch drives firm forward

After a TV interview was aired, Lenovo’s Senior Vice President Gina Qiao got a call from her father. Qiao’s father scolded her for referring to the company’s chairman Yang Yuanqing not as “chairman” but as “YY.”

But it wasn’t her fault in addressing the chairman as YY. In fact it was Yang’s own idea to call each other by name inside the office as he believed that breaking the authoritarian Chinese corporate culture was one of the ways to make Lenovo into a global business.

He said once that addressing others at work by their titles led people to believe they must follow the demands of their superiors.

The Chinese IT company’s founder Liu Chuanzhi named Yang as his successor in 2000, recognizing the young executive’s skill. At the time, Yang was only 37 years old.

Although the founder returned to the role of chairman while Yang returned to CEO status in 2009, Liu has had little involvement in overall management since 2011.

One of Yang’s positive efforts has been his contact with the company’s employees. After he was appointed to the highest position within the IT company and before his official inauguration, Yang greeted every employees every morning at the company’s lobby with a name tag pinned on his chest. Since then, the first letters of his name ‘YY’ became his nickname.

In an article on Lenovo, The Wall Street Journal noted it was the horizontal governance structure within the company that helped the Chinese local brand to grow into a global company.

The other nickname that Yang has is “King Worker,” which refers to his high paycheck. He got the name after it was revealed three years ago that he earned $14.6 million, the highest earnings among CEOs of companies listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

But he didn’t pocket all of what he made. In fact that same year he gave $2 million of bonuses he was to receive to 10,000 hourly paid employees in 20 countries. The following year he gave back $3.25 million bonuses to 10,000 hourly paid employees. ??


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