Yunnan Baiyao – Innovating Tradition

Alina Mo is CEO of Yunnan Baiyao Health Industry Equity Investment Fund. Yunnan Baiyao is one of the leading traditional Chinese medicine pharmaceutical brands in China. Alina was recently recognized as one of ECI China's Most Innovative Pioneers in Business of the Year 2016. Here Alina talks about her passion for business innovation, how she came to study on the EMBA (Chinese) programme at CityU, and her take on life.

How does it feel to be the youngest awardee among all these veterans?

I am definitely excited about it. There are many other elite, young people in the industry who have done excellently in their business areas, and I am just one of them to have been given this award. I'm much honoured to receive this. This is a recognition of the efforts I've put in and it's a huge encouragement.

How do you interpret innovation in the context of your business?

Innovation and tradition are not contradictory, they can both exist and better integrate. As a "pioneer", I think the most important thing is to learn and inherit culture and traditions from previous generations. However, we need to find a balance — be brave to challenge the norms, the authority, yet keep the good traditions.

Innovation in an established company like Yunnan Baiyao must be challenging?

Yunnan Baiyao has been introducing innovations since 1999, and as a traditional enterprise, it is not always easy. We started with medicine powder, and then we launched our aerosol, bandage and Baiyao ointment. Our toothpaste has been a pioneering — and disruptive — innovation in the market, helping Baiyao to expand its market, from medicine to daily commodities, and redefine the company's development plan. We have also expanded into new areas such as health care products and functional food items.

How about your role as CEO of the Investment Fund?

This is the first time that Yunnan Baiyao has launched an equity investment fund. Through the fund, we hope to adopt a newer, more innovative way of operating the business. Given our brand's strong positioning in the industry, we've enhanced the current fund model, the business operation, transaction structure and other aspects, and also increased its business value.

How do you go about innovation?

I am someone who constantly strives to innovate. When I was in the marketing department, I worked on a business model to integrate sales and marketing, started using the O2O model, content and scene marketing, and social media marketing. I have studied and trained in law, and am now a licensed lawyer.

Then, after acquiring professional qualifications in fund management, I entered the investment industry. I try to leverage my past experiences and creative business ideas, to help integrate into the investment sector — and eventually launched an investment model which can reflect the unique features of Baiyao.

What are your hobbies?

I love reading, traveling, and trying good food. The old saying says "It's better to travel miles than read thousands of books"(讀萬卷書不如行萬里路). Going out to see the world can help to shape our worldview. In return, our worldview encourages us to see the world more. I like to experience other cultures and customs by travelling. I love visiting museums, as I can understand a place best from its history.

How do you find studying on the EMBA course?

I am very fortunate to have chosen to study the EMBA at CityU. The education system in Hong Kong is quite different to mainland China. CB emphasizes theoretical learning, alongside case analysis and practice. Personal responsibility and self-learning opportunities are emphasized. Small class teaching allows everyone to have opportunities to express themselves in class, and teachers are well prepared for class. The learning atmosphere in CityU is serious and competitive. Sometimes we stay up late till the middle of the night, several days in a row, to complete assignments. It seems like we are working harder than we did to prepare for the College entrance exam! Sometimes it is hard to keep going by yourself during difficult situations, but you can go far beyond your limit when you are part of a group.

How do you manage your free time, with your study and work?

My job is very busy, therefore, on the one hand I make full use of my holiday time, and on the other hand I hope to improve my efficiency with the limited time available. When people are watching movies, playing games, mahjong, or involved themselves in the office politics, I tend to avoid all these disturbances and focus on my work. If there is time to waste, I am only willing to "waste" my time on good things, but not on something that could distract me.

Headquarters of Yunnan Baiyao

Yunnan Baiyao Group Co., Ltd. is one of the leading traditional Chinese medicine pharmaceutical brands in China. Yunnan Baiyao was formulated by Mr Huanzhang Qu in 1902, and became widely used as a trauma panacea. Since the turn of the 21st century, the company has entered into a strategic transformation, partly driven by Alina Mo's work as CEO of Yunnan Baiyao Health Industry Equity Investment Fund.