JUNE 2014
Lenovo Founder Shares Start-up Insights
A year of entrepreneurship can be worth a decade of experience as an employee, according to Mr Chuanzhi Liu.

The remarkable life and times of renowned Mainland entrepreneur Mr Chuanzhi Liu, Chairman of Legend Holdings Corporation and Founder and Honorary Chairman of Lenovo, formed the focus of HKUST’s latest UC RUSAL President’s Forum in March.  Mr Liu’s presentation on “The Growth of China’s Manufacturers – Talking About Legend”, was heavily oversubscribed, attracting over 400 people from on campus and off.  His talk was followed by a dialogue with President Tony F Chan and a thought-provoking question-and-answer session with members of the audience. 

Global success
Undergraduates, exchange students, lecturers, industry representatives and reporters filled one of the University’s main lecture halls while another nearby hall offered a simultaneous video broadcast to hear how Legend Holdings grew from 11 staff located in a gatehouse and initial funding of US$25,000 in 1984 to a conglomerate. It encompasses leading enterprises including Lenovo, now a US$34 billion global personal technology company, and more than 62,000 employees worldwide.  Along the way, Mr Liu propelled forward the global profile of the company when IBM sold its Personal Computer Division to Lenovo in 2005.

When asked about Lenovo’s secret of success, Mr Liu said it was the same as his own philosophy – a continuous drive for higher standards.  The company’s initial goal was to build the first Chinese computer.  After achieving this, Mr Liu set his sights on becoming No.1 in China, and later to increasing Lenovo’s market share around the globe.  This pursuit of excellence was the reason for Lenovo’s huge success today, he said.

Path to entrepreneurship
In his conversation with President Tony F Chan, Mr Liu talked about students becoming entrepreneurs. He noted that the path could be tough particularly at the start-up stage. For example, initial salary and status maybe lower than those working for large companies.  “But one year of entrepreneurship can be worth almost 10 years’ experience as a regular employee because you have to plan so intensively in an all-round way.  You have to consider business strategies, employee welfare, among many other things you wouldn’t have to think about if you are simply employed.”

If undecided about running a business or accepting a job offer, Mr Liu suggested a person should reflect on their priorities and capabilities. Being able to assess and set clear goals in life were crucial for business leaders and students alike, he said.