Dong Mingzhu (Chinese: 董明珠; born 1954) is a Chinese businesswoman. She is the Chairwoman of Gree Electric. In 2013, Dong was named one a Forbes Asia “Woman in the Mix” for business. The New York Times called her “one of the toughest businesswomen in China.”
ong was born the youngest of seven children in a working class family. When she was a child, she wanted to be a soldier. Dong graduated from a specialized institute in Wuhu, Anhui province in 1975 with a major in Statistics. After graduation, Dong an administrative job at a government chemistry laboratory in Nanjing for 15 years.
In 1990, at age 36, recently widowed Dong left her three year old son with his grandmother and quit her job at the government research facility in order to move to the more economically developed Zhuhai in Guangdong province and find new work.
Joining Haley (Gree Electric’s predecessor) as a salesperson, she made her mark from the start, recovering massive debts in a little over month. From then on, her increasing accomplishments gained notice from higher ups and promotions came in quick succession. By 1994, Dong was made head of sales, where she innovated the sales process. This determined flexibility would become one of her most notable characteristics throughout her career. By the time Gree Electric went public in 1996, Dong was deputy president, and later company president in 2001. In 2012, she gained the position of Gree Electric’s chairwoman as well. She was also the chairwomen of Gree Electric’s parent company Gree Group until November 2016.
Dong has transformed Gree Electric under her management, developing it into the world’s largest household air conditioning unit maker, and China’s largest household appliance maker (generating a record breaking 140 billion Yuan revenue in 2014). Dong also played a key role in shifting Gree Electric’s sales from traditional to online, which contributed significantly to the company’s 2014 record breaking revenue. Gree Electric’s company stock has risen 2300% during her stay.
She aims to transform Gree Electric into a global brand,setting a quality example for other Chinese manufacturers to grow towards, and also “stemming bias against Chinese made products by helping the world better understand China.” Gree Electric has also strived to develop new technology under her leadership, looking into solar energy, entering China’s smartphone market, spurring growths in robotic technology, investing in recycled treatment centers nationwide beginning in 2011, and acquiring electric car maker Yinlong in March of 2016.
Dong has displayed a strong nationalistic streak over the year, and has been a member of the 10th, 11th, and 12th National People’s Congress. She is a member of the China Democratic National Construction Association, as well as a member of the 10th Executive Committee of All-china Women’s Federation. Dong currently holds senior positions in a dozen industry, women’s and charity organizations, and has taught university business classes.
Dong married soon after graduating from university, but was widowed when her son turned two year old. She has not married since, stating that she values her independence and that when married “you have responsibilities toward another person.”
She has published two books, including an autobiography titled Regretless Pursuit which was a bestseller in China. Regretless Pursuit was made into a television series on China Central Television.
She has not had a day off in 20 years, and says that she will rest when she retires.
She enjoys reading, including books like Jane Eyre and Gone with the Wind, which are her favorite books. She collects shawls.
She is widely known for her reputation as the toughest woman in China, and peers have been quoted saying “Where Sister Dong walks, no grass grows.”