Chairman and CEO of Haier Group
Birthday: Jan 5, 1949
Birthplace: Laizhou, Shandong
Industry: electronics appliance
Zhang Ruimin has been a famous figure in China for years for his role in
building Haier into China's largest electronics appliance maker.
In 1984 when Zhang Ruimin was appointed director of Qingdao Refrigerator
Factory, it was then a small ailing collective factory with a debt of 1.47
million yuan (US$182.759). Zhang took a sledgehammer to smash some defective
refrigerators in front of a group of workers to drive home the importance of
The factory has since grown to become what is now known as the Haier Group,
China's top home appliance brand name. Haier has witnessed significant success
and gained worldwide recognition over the past 20 years and in 2004 global sales
were 101.6 billion yuan (US$12.63 billion). In 2005, Haier was ranked 89th of
the 2005 World's 500 Most Influential Brands by the World Brand Lab and first
among China's Top 10 Global Brands on the Financial Times.
To improve Haier management efficiency, Zhang combined Chinese traditional
culture and western industrial experiences, and established the OEC and the
Market-chain management systems. Zhang's management system has been widely
acknowledged by domestic and overseas management professionals.
Haier's experience has been introduced in 16 case studies in business merger,
financial management and corporate culture by 7 foreign educational institutes,
including Harvard University, University of Southern California, Lausanne
Management College, the European Business College and Kobe University. Haier has
been recommended to the EU Case Studies by Lausanne Management College for Haier
In 1997, Zhang Ruimin was presented with the 1997 Entrepreneur Award by Asia
Weekly. On September 6, 2002, Zhang was honored with a Global Business Leader
and an Outstanding Donator UWI Award. Zhang was ranked first of the 25 Most
Powerful Business Leaders Inside China on the Chinese Edition of Fortune April
2005. Zhang was awarded as one of the 50 most respected business leaders in the
world by Financial Times in November 2005, with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates topping
the list. Zhang was the only Chinese entrepreneur on the list.
Zhang Ruimin is keen and skillful on studies and widely believed to a
intellectual businessman. One of his philosophical concepts in business practice
is "Tread on eggs always, run scared always". Haier corporate culture based upon
Zhang's philosophy has played a significant role in increasing 30,000 employee
enthusiasm and innovation.
In 2004, Haier trademark was valued at 61.6 billion yuan (US$7.66 billion),
the highest in China. In November, 2004, Haier was placed on the list of The
World's Most Respected Companies at an global business survey jointly conducted
by Finance Times and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Zhang Ruimin and his colleagues
dedicate their wisdom and energy to turning a collective run small factory into
a global recognizable transnational company and to accelerating China's economy.
Zhang's ambition is to achieve global recognition for the Haier brand. Hoping
to win a stronger niche in the U.S. market, Haier tried to take over U.S.
appliance maker Maytag Corp in May last year, but dropped its more than US$1
billion bid in July after U.S. major electronic appliance maker Whirlpool made a
bigger offer. But Haier, under Mr. Zhang's leadership, is expected to shop for
other acquisition opportunities.
"The globalisation of Chinese companies is an unavoidable trend, we must
develop our domestic advantage into an international one," Mr Zhang told a
conference. "If we cannot win in our own market, we will not succeed
One of China's most politically influential businessmen, Mr. Zhang became an
alternate member of the 16th Communist Party of China Central Committee in 2002.
He has an MBA from a top IT University, the China Science and Technology
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