Feature: Taobaoism key to an American's dreams of business harmony

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-16 12:24:16|Editor: Yamei
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BEIJING, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Hard-working sports lover, Leela Greenberg seems just like any other young foreign associate at Alibaba, apart from her somewhat anomalous love for the Beatles, but what brought Greenberg all the way from Colorado to China is quite different from most of her peers.

Greenberg has been fascinated by Taoism for many years.

With ideas such as naturalness and harmony with the universe, Taoism plays an important part in China's intellectual world along with Confucianism and Buddhism.

"When I opened Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching as a teenager, I became obsessed by the untranslatable concept of Tao, as well as the language itself," she said. "Since then, it has been a part of my life."

In 2011, Greenberg and her best friend made a trip to China. They trekked deep into the mountains in southwest China, trying to experience the Taoist sense of harmony with nature.

A dream of living in China then took root. Four years later, Greenberg took an MBA at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, thinking she might be able to help people overcome cultural barriers and become connected through business.

This idea helped her land a position at Alibaba Global Leadership Academy (AGLA), a talent development program dedicated to fostering international business leaders.

In 2017, she made trips around China to see how Taobao functions in the countryside and meshed with the government campaign to eliminate poverty. In remote Qinghai Province, she was deeply touched by a disabled villager's dedication to helping fellow villagers sell their goods on the internet.

And more than that, Greenberg saw an amazing congruity between Alibaba's business philosophy with Taoist ideas.

"According to Lao Tzu, a house or a bowl is useful because of the empty space it creates," she said. Different from the online store model of Amazon, Alibaba's core business model is to set up a virtual marketplace -- a sort of "empty space" on the internet where buyers and sellers can interact.

Now the "empty space" of Alibaba is reaching out beyond China.

The annual active users on its China retail marketplaces have passed 550 million, while its international retail revenue has grew by 94 percent in last fiscal year.

Greenberg now works on programs to support small and medium businesses, not only in China but also Latin America and Southeast Asia.

"At a time when Chinese tech companies such as Alibaba, DiDi and JD.com are going global, I wish to help smooth the process by promoting cross-cultural communication and integration," said Greenberg.