AGLA Meets Michael Evans

AGLA Class 2 had the pleasure of meeting Michael Evans, President of Alibaba Group and hear from the leader of Globalisation himself on Alibaba’s internalisation strategies and how AGLAs could contribute to the vision.

For many of us, Michael Evans was not a total stranger. During our welcome evening at the final round interviews, the former Olympics champion and Asian business veteran had given us the invaluable advice to “be yourself” and “be authentic”. For the 20 of us on AGLA 2, we were in high anticipation on hearing from Michael where Alibaba is placing its bets on globalisation.

By 2036, Alibaba aims to reach 2 Billion customers which is almost one-third of the world’s total population. In order to accomplish this ambitious target, Michael outlined for us 5 key areas which would be crucial:

  1. Global Buy & Global Sell

Global Buy: An estimation by the Chinese government is that over the next decade Chinese consumers will import over 8 trillion USD worth of goods from around the world, mostly in the cosmetics, mother and baby section. To fulfil this huge demand, TMALL GLOBAL will be the pioneer, where we are working directly with foreign brands to bring their products to Chinese consumers’ doorstep.

Global Sell: The other pathway is on Chinese products being exported to the world, by Aliexpress. Since its launch in 2010, Aliexpress has become the largest ecommerce player in all of Russia and is also growing exponentially in countries like Spain and Latin America.

  1. Empowering SMEs

As the champion of SMEs and “inclusive globalisation”, we often hear Jack Ma discuss that globalisation has been benefitting 6000 MNCs in the last decade, but the next decade is about bringing these benefits of globalisation to the 60 million SMEs around the world. With this strong sense of inclusion for small businesses, we have launched Gateway 17 in the US recently where many AGLAs were also instrumental in its execution.

  1. Cloud Computing

Behind all the movements of goods around the world via digital platforms, the understated giant to power all this would be cloud computing. As the undisputed leader in China, Alibaba Cloud also aims to become the top 3 cloud computing providers in the world within the next few years. Since starting its globalisation journey over 2 years ago, Alibaba Cloud has built over 17 data centers across 4 continents. Hitting the 1 million paying users’ mark and becoming the official cloud provider for the Olympics, the internalisation pace is only getting faster.

  1. Payment

As Alibaba’s ecommerce businesses expand internationally, payments a critical lever and unique advantage for growth which will go hand in hand. Alipay as the world’s largest mobile payments solution and market leader in China, it will focus its internationalisation paths in 2 ways: Chinese travelers and building local digital wallets. As Chinese consumers increasingly traverse the globe, Alipay’s globalisation strategy is to follow Chinese tourists and enabling them to make seamless cross-border payments wherever they go. Concurrently, Alipay is building local digital wallets in key emerging markets such as Philippines, Thailand, Korea and India.


  1. Global Travel

As the Chinese economy grows richer and Chinese consumers become more experiential-driven, global travel is an unmissable part of reaching 2billion consumers. Out of the 135 million Chinese tourists which will travel abroad this year, Fliggy (Alibaba’s travel platform) hopes to capture the majority of these clients and serve an end-to-end user journey  in terms of transportation, entertainment and accommodation wherever you are in the globe.

Over the course of the evening, Michael really emphasized on how unique the Alibaba culture is, even for someone who has worked across the largest MNCs, government organizations and conglomerates, he has not experienced the same level of passion, innovation and idealism like we have at Alibaba.

As an AGLA member in particular, we felt especially fortunate to be able to contribute and witness this watershed moment in Alibaba’s globalisation history.



Rilly Chen is a member of AGLA Class #2, she grew up in China, Singapore and the UK, and spent the last 4 years working in the ecommerce eco-system in Southeast Asia. She graduated from the University of Oxford and is very much enjoying her time exploring the new digital China. 


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