Many aspire, few succeed – these great leaders prevailed against the odds to achieve their own success. They may have become household names in Asia and the world, but it took grit, resilience, and years in the making for them to find their place at the top. Read about their journey and be inspired to create your own success.
Founder & Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma’s rags-to-riches story has inspired many to be unfazed by the fear of rejection and failure. Despite having an estimated net worth of US$36.2 Billion, Jack has had his fair share of rejections (notably rejected by KFC) before he embarked on his climb to become one of the most recognisable business leaders in Asia and the world.
An optimistic and determined individual, Jack led Alibaba to become one of the world’s largest e-commerce business. He saw the opportunity of the Internet and rode on its wave. Now, at 54 years of age, the self-made entrepreneur is ranked second in Fortune’s 2017 list of World’s 50 Greatest Leaders; cementing his position as one of Asia’s finest leaders.
With an estimated net worth of US$49 billion, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Limited, Mukesh Ambani, has topped Forbes’ annual list of richest Indian for 11 straight years. In recognition of his influence, he is in Fortune’s 2019 list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and TIMES 100 most influential people of 2019.
Under his reign, he oversaw the company’s growth and reshaped it from a textile manufacturing business to a petroleum refining, retail, and telecommunications giant. Today, Reliance Industries Limited is one of India’s most valuable companies. Currently its Jamnagar Refinery processes 1.24 million Barrels Per Stream Day (BPSD), making it the undisputed largest refining hub in the world.
Liu Qing (Jean Liu)
President of Didi Chuxing, Liu Qing has overseen the growth of the world’s largest mobile transportation platform. In 2017, the Beijing-based company handled 7.4 billion rides, almost doubling that of Uber’s 4 billion trips. Recently, the company announced its expansion in Latin America, and they have plans to do so in Japan and Australia too.
Liu Qing is recognised as one of the Top 50 Women in Technology and World’s 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes. In early 2015, she successfully led the merger between Didi Dache and its main competitor Kuaidi Dache to become Didi Kuadi, which was later rebranded as Didi Chuxing. She also managed to fend off competition from Uber after a two-year battle for the Chinese market by acquiring Uber’s Chinese operations.
At the age of 91, Li Ka-Shing is one of Asia’s most influential businessmen. Nicknamed Superman, he is Hong Kong’s richest man with an estimated net worth of around US$30 billion according to Forbes. Coming from humble beginnings, he made his fortune manufacturing plastic before expanding his business into other fields such as property, retail, and shipping.
Besides being a successful businessman, Li Ka-Shing is a dedicated philanthropist. According to a 2015 report by Wealth-X, his foundation is the world’s second largest private foundation led by an ultra high net worth (UHNW) individual. Even after retiring, his philanthropic work has shown no signs of slowing down. Recently, Li Ka-shing pledged to pay the tuition fees for all Shantou University students in the Class of 2019. This is just a small part of the HK$25 billion that he has contributed to philanthropy over the years.
South Korean President, Moon Jae-in was voted into power after the impeachment of his predecessor. Just months after coming into power, he mediated for normalcy in relations between North Korea and the US when tensions were high. Within his first month of presidency, Moon Jae-in received North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at the Demilitarised zone, and then masterminded the Trump-Kim meeting that took place in Singapore.
A lawyer by training, Moon Jae-in first entered into politics in 2003, serving as then South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun’s senior secretary for civil affairs. As the current and 12th President of South Korea, he has made historic strides in diplomatic relations between North Korea, South Korea, and the US. In recognition for his efforts, President Moon was shortlisted for TIME’s Person of the Year for 2018.
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Group, Tony Fernandes, is a trailblazer in Asia’s budget airline scene. Taking over the ailing company back in 2001, he cleared its debts of $40 million ringgit and made the company profitable within two years. Today, AirAsia is the largest low-cost carrier in Asia and synonymous with affordable air travel. In 2019, AirAsia was named by Skytrax as the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for the 11th consecutive year.
For his contributions towards the aviation industry, he received numerous awards such as Airline CEO of the Year at the 2016 CAPA Aviation Awards for Excellence and TIME 100 most influential people of 2015.