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Oct 23 - Peggy Yu on Entrepreneurship and E-Commerce: Lessons from an Industry Pioneer in China

Peggy Yu sitting in a chair giving a speech




NYU Stern's Center for the Future of Management (CFM) hosted "Entrepreneurship and E-Commerce: Lessons from an Industry Pioneer in China," a fireside chat featuring Distinguished Executive-in-Residence Peggy Yu (MBA ’92), Co-founder and Executive Chairwoman of, and Alumni Council Chair Tony Watkins (MBA ’11), Director of Global Partnerships at Google.  The Stern Women in Business Club (SWIB), along with its undergraduate sister club USWIB co-hosted the event that was attended by approximately 100 Stern graduate and undergraduate students, alumni, faculty and staff.


The first segment of the fireside chat focused on lessons from Peggy’s career path, beginning with her decision to attend NYU Stern School of Business.  She emphasized the importance of pursuing a balanced course load that allowed for the development of both hard and soft skills.  The technical knowledge she gained at Stern afforded her the skills and confidence to pursue a career on Wall Street.  The key to the long-term success of her entrepreneurial venture, however, largely depended on soft skills, in areas such as marketing and human resource management.  Peggy told the audience that when starting your own business, strong leadership skills, which require self-training, take precedence over technical skills.


Attendees were also afforded the opportunity to learn about the lessons of leadership from the decisions rendered by Peggy in the early stages of’s development.  On the cusp of the e-commerce bubble, employed a multi-prong approach to growth that included a cautious approach to  investments and substantial emphasis on acquiring information about the competition.  Great efforts were channeled into building a reliable, trusted team that had the capability to remain focused on the customer-oriented goal to be the largest, most price-competitive, most convenient on-line retailer of books to consumers in China.


In the second segment, Peggy shared her ideas on the NYU Stern alumni community.  She has appreciated opportunities as a member of the alumni community to get to know both Stern undergraduates and graduates.  She encouraged members of the current student body and alumni to reach out to each other and remain active members of the NYU community after graduation.  As a business leader and an alumnus, Peggy has been involved with NYU Shanghai since its inception ten years ago.  She also funded the Peggy Yu Undergraduate Scholarship.


In the third segment, Peggy discussed her thoughts on the evolving landscape for globalization as it relates to e-commerce.  From her perspective, in recent years, the trend has been towards deglobalization. She highlighted rising barriers  to cross-border funding. However, she asserted that opportunities still abound for young entrepreneurs, noting that  e-commerce penetration in the US continues to hover around 20%.


In the final segment, Peggy responded to questions from the audience, spanning a wide variety of topics.  She reflected on the importance of subscribing to the habit of observing and learning something new.  The importance of being a lifetime student is as relevant to work and a successful business model, as oxygen and exercising to a healthy lifestyle.