Power of Embracing Change:Transformation through Diversity

Interview with Amee Chande, Managing Director, Global Strategy and Operations, Alibaba Group

In the run-up to the LEAD Network 2017 event, we will be sharing insights from our fantastic line-up of speakers. For this edition, we interviewed Amee Chande, who will be presenting on Friday 3rd November in the afternoon, on the topic of ‘Power of Embracing Change: Transformation through Diversity’.


Can you tell us a bit about your background and your current role?

With relatives around the world, and parents with a passion for travel, I grew up thinking the world was a pretty small place. My grandparents were from India, my parents grew up in East Africa, and I was born in the UK but raised in Canada.

I studied psychology and business and have always been interested in people and organisations – whether employees or customers. I studied in Canada (Simon Fraser University, BBA), the UK (LSE, MSc) and the USA (Harvard Business School, MBA) and essentially had another five years of business education as a strategy consultant at management consultancy firm McKinsey. Since then, I have worked for large corporations such as Walmart, Staples and Tesco on entrepreneurial initiatives.

I joined Alibaba two years ago as one of the first international leaders. I was initially responsible for building the EMEA hub in London, and bringing the best of the Alibaba ecosystem to businesses in the UK & Nordics. Recently I’ve moved into a Global Strategy & Operations role, which has expanded my scope at this very exciting time in Alibaba’s history.

Why is diversity important for you?

Diversity is about seeing things from a different perspective. There are so many times when I’ve benefited from the different experiences of others, forcing me to slow down, or making me stop and re-think my opinion or decision. I know that at these moments, I not only made better decisions, but I also grew as an individual.

The value of diversity is becoming more readily accepted. What I’d like us to consider even more as leaders, is how we ensure our decision-making processes elicit diverse points of view, and how to enable those with diverse perspectives to feel comfortable voicing them.

Who has been your greatest influence in your career?

My career path is organic, and constantly being influenced by those I encounter on my journey – much like a river alters course as it flows down the mountain path over rocks and around trees. At the most fundamental level, my parents were my greatest influence, instilling values and discipline, and creating a plethora of opportunities to nurture my curiosity. There are definitely individual people that took a chance on me, created opportunities or offered me a piece of advice that – to those many teachers and mentors – I am forever grateful.

The theme of our LEAD Network Event 2017 is: “Embracing Change: Transformation through Diversity” – you moved from a traditional bricks and mortar retailer such as Walmart to the digital company Alibaba, can you tell us a bit about your personal experience of this transition?

On the surface, Walmart and Alibaba may seem like polar opposites on the retail spectrum, however in my experience, they have more similarities than you might expect.

Both founder-driven companies, they are based outside of a major metropolitan city, with a very strong, maybe even quirky culture. Both are disruptors within their spaces, and scaled by keeping true to their business models and keeping the customer at the heart of their businesses. I think the very same things that made Walmart successful can be found at Alibaba – and likely most successful companies.

Looking ahead, the environment is fast changing, and Alibaba is perhaps better suited to taking advantage of demographic trends and technology advancements in the coming years. As an employee of Alibaba, it’s exciting to have joined the company relatively early in our journey of growth and innovation.