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A shining star in the power industry

A shining star in the power industry

Updated: 2012-03-07 19:32

By He Dan (

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You can easily spot Li Xiaolin in a crowd with her pixie haircut and elegant make-up.

As chairwoman of China Power International Development Limited, the 51-year-old ranked 43rd on Fortune Magazine’s global 50 most powerful businesswomen in 2011.

She is a household name in the country as the daughter of former premier Li Peng.

As a member of one of the most prominent families in China, the media have been curious about Li’s family life.

“We cannot choose to be someone’s daughter, but we should all be grateful for our parents, who brought us into the world and helped us to become useful to society,” she said.

“As a woman, I have little to complain about, as I enjoy playing every social role as daughter, wife, mother and a career woman.”

Li’s life has been connected with power generation since she studied in a master’s degree program of engineering in power systems and automation at Beijing-based Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious schools in China.

However, Li said that her career path was not all “smooth sailing”, as people thought.

“I didn’t know what I should do after graduation, so I tried a few kinds of work at the beginning such as teacher, technician and engineer,” she said.

For years, Li worked as a translator for an electric company’s department of equipment and technology imports.

“I really appreciate the hardship and work experience at the grassroots level in the first 15 years of my career,” said Li.

She was then chosen to work for the China National Energy Bureau’s international trade department after she quickly resolved a communications difficulty when her company cooperated with foreign businessmen to build an electric substation.

“At that time, most power experts did not speak English very well, and for those good at English, they lacked a professional background in power,” Li said.

“The official who offered me the job opportunity had no idea of my family background, he chose me just because of my expertise in trade and English.”

Li said although it is difficult for college graduates to find jobs nowadays, she believes career success is only a matter of time for people who are confident and work hard for their dreams.

“When the time is right, the flower will blossom,” she said.

“Once you set a goal for yourself and strive for it, you will have experience different from others or meet different challenges. But you will succeed in the end if you believe in yourself.”

CPID was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2004. Its parent company, China Power Investment Corp, is among the five largest-generation giants on the Chinese mainland.

Li, who joined the corporation in 1994, is pioneering the cause of clean energy in a country that remains dependent on coal.

She has acquired key hydropower assets, which contributed to revenue of $2.2 billion, up 32 percent in 2010, and profit of $131 million, up 57 percent.

Hydropower capacity at China Power accounts for about 22 percent of the generation mix, making it the greenest power company among Hong Kong’s listed firms.

When asked about the reform of State-owned enterprises, Li said the purpose of reform should be to build a fair mechanism and allow more people to benefit from the development of SOEs.

“Reform in the power generation sector has been carried out for about 10 years, but the reform has yet to be completed,” said Li.

“We have witnessed development since China announced the building of a market economy with Chinese characteristics, but no one can deny the existing problems and challenges in our economy.”

Li said she believed that making the “cake” of economic wealth and distributing it more fairly should be done at the same time in China.