CEO Dong Mingzhu, one of the richest women in China, may be replaced by her 22-year-old secretary

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Dong Mingzhu, one of China’s richest and most powerful women, has reportedly dropped hints suggesting that she wants her 22-year-old secretary to be her successor as president of Gree Electric.

The hint: Dong, 65, dropped the clue during a company event, jokingly telling investors and reporters that she was teaching her newly promoted secretary, Meng Yutong, to follow in her footsteps, according to Business Insider.

  • I hope she can stay by my side,” Dong, known as China’s “Iron Lady” for her strict work ethic, said as she introduced Meng on stage. “I want to nurture her to become the second Dong Mingzhu.”
  • Dong met the Zhejiang University graduate who majored in Spanish on the reality TV show “We Who Are New to the Workplace” and later hired her as an intern. The Gree Electric chairwoman made Meng her secretary after she interned for just three months.
  • Dong’s words ignited a discussion on Weibo on Friday, with people mentioning the topic online more than 2 million times. Meng later posted a video online thanking those supporting her boss and company following the viral discussion.
  • After analyzing Dong’s recent and past statements, social media users concluded that Meng could be Dong’s successor. Both Gree Electric and Dong have yet to confirm the speculation.
  • I think there are a lot of people who are better than me, more diligent than me, and more talented than me,” Meng said about being chosen by Dong. “I’m just lucky to have such a good opportunity, a good boss and a good platform.”
  • Although the topic of a successor remains a mystery, Dong had reportedly shared some details regarding her eventual retirement and what she will look for in the  right person who will take her place. Speaking to Daily Economic News, Dong said her successor would be chosen for their excellence and not through nepotism or friendship.

Other details: Known as the “Iron Lady” of China, Dong received the nickname for her work ethic and unwavering approach to business.  She has reportedly yet to take a single day off from work ever since joining Gree Electric, the world’s largest manufacturer of household air conditioners,  in 1990 as a salesperson.

  • Venerated for her fierceness, she once famously said in 2009: “I never miss. I never admit mistakes and I am always correct.”
  • When it comes to competitors, Dong admitted in a video interview in 2015 that she never bothered to care about what other companies are doing.
  • We used to win market share by doing a better job than our competitors with existing products. I think this is a wrong approach,” she said. “We shouldn’t care too much about what our competitors are doing. We need to focus on what consumers want, this is a mindset we need to work with.”

Featured Image via Sohu

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