Alibaba Launches Recruitment Program for International Talent

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Alibaba Launches Recruitment Program for International Talent

Editor’s note: This story was updated on May 25.

When Daniel Zhang took over as Alibaba Group CEO last year, he said globalization was the e-commerce giant’s top priority and that recruiting top-tier international talent would be critical to reaching that goal.

“We will have employees from all over the world that look different from each other,” Zhang said in his first public speech as CEO. “We have to take the time to understand them, to understand their habits, cultural differences and way of thinking. This is how we become truly an international company.”

Zhang’s goal came a step closer this week with the company’s launch of a employee recruitment and training program called the Alibaba Global Leadership Academy (AGLA), which seeks to attract talent from major markets outside of China, not leastthe U.S. and Europe, for 16 months of training at Alibaba headquarters in Hangzhou, China.

“We’re offering promising young professionals a chance to live and immerse themselves in the environment within corporate headquarters in Hangzhou so they can truly understand the essence of our company culture and understand what makes it successful,” said Alibaba Group Vice President Brian Wong, who helped create the program. “We hope that these individuals will then carry that overseas to our international offices, and eventually become a critical component of our globalization leadership team.”

Wong added that the company also wants more international staff in Hangzhou to help bring diversity to its headquarters, “whether by promoting the use of English or the sharing of new ideas and perspectives from those from abroad.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of moves by Alibaba to deliver on Zhang’s push to globalize. In the U.S., the company has made a number of hires to build out its team there. The company hired former Goldman Sachs Vice Chairman Michael Evans last August to lead the execution of Alibaba’s international e-commerce strategy, while former Target Chief Human Resources Officer Jodee Kozlak was brought on in February to further build out the international leadership team. Alibaba has also recruited a handful of government affairs specialiststo boost its presencein Washington, D.C.

In Europe, Alibaba in recent months has opened a slate of new offices. The company now has on-the-ground staff in Amsterdam, Milan, Munich and Paris, and there are plans to open another one inBrussels later this year. Investments have also been a way Alibaba has shown its intention to growbeyond China. Last month, for example, the company put about $1 billion into Southeast Asian e-commerce player Lazada Group to capitalize on consumption growth in that region’s burgeoning online retailmarket.

Alibaba is currently accepting applications to fill 30 AGLApositions to start in September, though the program will eventually grow to 102 a year. The participants will rotate through three different business units (including Alibaba-affiliated fintech company Ant Financial) during the program. Theywill also receive leadership training, mentorship from senior executives and will go on research trips toincrease their understanding Chinese society and Chinese consumers.

Participants will be considered full-time Alibaba employees and receive competitive compensation and benefits, the company said. Upon graduation, they will be placed in one of Alibaba’s international offices based on a combination of the company’s business needs and personal preferences.

Wong said that understanding China’s growing international influence, whether in finance, trade or climate change, is essential knowledge for executives doing business in the global economy. By living and working in Hangzhou, participants will be able to experience the country from the inside.

“We want people who come out of the program to be the businessmen and women of this new era,well versed in e-commerce with a particular sensitivity to what will soon be the world’s largest economy, China,”he said.

AGLA applications are currently being accepted through June 20. Alibaba said it is looking for candidates with at least three years of work experience and, ideally, a master’s degree. Chinese language skills are not necessary, however, as it’s an English-based program. Participantswill have an opportunity to study Chinese during their stay, Alibaba said.

More information on the program is available here.

Alibaba Global Leadership Academy
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