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Alibaba runs academy to find future e-commerce leaders

Online marketplace firm Alibaba launches a global academy designed to find and train young people to join the e-commerce landscape

Alibaba has selected individuals from around the world to take part in its Global Leadership Academy designed to train and integrate the firm’s next generation of employees.

The programme has selected 32 young people from 14 countries worldwide to spend a year in the firm’s Chinese headquarters rotating around Alibaba’s business units.

Brian Wong, vice-president of global initiatives at Alibaba Group and executive director of AGLA, told Computer Weekly that the academy aims to develop global leaders who will bridge the gap between China and the rest of the world.

“We’re offering promising young professionals a chance to live and immerse themselves in the environment in our corporate headquarters in Hangzhou so they can truly understand the essence of our company culture and understand what makes it successful,” he said.

The Chinese retail space has begun to grow beyond fast manufacturing. In cases such as Alibaba, Chinese firms are beginning to use technology creatively to solve problems.

As part of the academy, participants will be given insight into how the e-commerce and internet shopping space is developing in the Chinese market, and will be asked to shop and purchase goods online, as well as learn about how the current omni-channel environment relates to China’s history.

“As a global e-commerce company, our culture relies on new ideas and different perspectives, and by bringing in recruits from all over the world, we hope to continue to build a truly global company,” said Wong.

“In 2017, we have people from more than 14 countries taking part in the programme and will continue to encourage this diversity moving forward, especially as we expand and open offices in new international locations.”

The academy is aimed at supporting the firm’s global push by giving future employees a year in the firm’s Chinese headquarters to acclimatise to the online retail giant’s culture and way of working before joining one of Alibaba’s global teams in offices around the world.

Out of the 3,000 candidates that applied, the cohort of 32 were selected based on their cognitive skills, their ability to think innovatively and how well they would fit with the company culture.

The Leadership Academy was part of Alibaba’s 10-year programme to increase the skills and capabilities of its workforce and grow into new regions.

But the cohort were not required to have Chinese language skills as part of the application, and half of those participating cannot speak Mandarin. In the future, Alibaba hopes these academies will train up to 102 people a year.

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Technology is a huge focus for Alibaba, not only to support its e-commerce marketplace platform but also in its other endeavours, such as cloud services provider Alibaba Cloud and its mobile payments service Alipay.

Global connectivity is also increasing as a result of technology adoption, making it easier for businesses to grow and communicate globally.

As an e-commerce firm, Wong pointed out Alibaba uses all of its technology services, such as Alipay, Alibaba Cloud, Taobao and Tmall, to “to make global trade a reality in the current retail climate”.

“Being a global e-commerce company that facilitates global trade, one of main goals of the programme is to educate the participants on the intricacies of how a successful e-commerce company works. Being online is hugely important,” he said.

As part of the leadership academy, applicants will spend time in many different departments in the business, including the technology function, to learn how the firm operates.

“Technology is a significant part of Alibaba – its past, its present and its future. Bringing together the various elements of the business, from Alipay to Tmall Global to Alibaba Cloud, and properly understanding how each of these platforms contribute to the company and its customers will be a central part of the programme,” said Wong.

Over the past year Alibaba has opened offices in Italy, France, Germany, India, the UK, Australia and the Netherlands.

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