Wang Jianlin is a Chinese businessman and a philanthropist, he is the Chairman of Dalian Wanda Group; China’s largest real estate developer. Wang was born on the 24th of October, 1954, in Mianyang, Sichuan province, China. Wang is the eldest of five brothers and the son of a Red Army hero. Born into a family with a strong military background, Wang wanted to be a soldier. His father, being an influential and reputable soldier in the People’s Liberation Army, was able to pull strings and secure a position for Wang in the army where he rose from the position of border guard to regimental commander.
But in the mid-1980s, when the Chinese army was slimmed down, Wang, along with millions of others, was decommissioned. His dream and ambition to be an army general were therefore crushed. This unfortunate incident forced him to take a job at the local government of Dalian, but he found no inner satisfaction at his job so finally, he opted to go into business.
Being at a difficult position financially, Wang moved into his mother-in-law’s house and took a job at a debt-ridden property development company. In a short time, he rose to become the General Manager and went ahead to change the company’s name. This business would later be known as the Dalian Wanda Group. Wang assumed the position of Chairman of Dalian Wanda in 1989.
In order to secure juicy government contracts, Wang endeared himself to top government officials, promising them that he could deliver great service in good time. Under Wang’s military-style leadership the company expanded rapidly, going beyond its initial focus on residential development in and around Dalian to other cities.
In 2000 the company moved aggressively into commercial real estate, and the scale of its projects became increasingly ambitious. By 2013 the company had developed nearly 80 urban complexes known as Wanda Plazas that offered both commercial and residential spaces. In addition, it operated 45 five-star hotels and 68 department stores across China and had an estimated 17 million sq m of land under management or development.
Dalian Wanda Group is currently a huge conglomerate having interest in five different areas; Luxury hotels, departmental stores, property development and entertainment.
In 2012, Wang’s company acquired AMC entertainment for a whopping $2.6 billion becoming the largest theatre owner in the world with more than 700 screens, which includes more than 440 Imax screens. Although many industry watchers and experts had reservations about the price tag of the entertainment outfit, describing it as too exorbitant for a company that was debt-ridden and had little growth prospect, Wang remains optimistic about the purchase. He described the acquisition as a strategy to foster a close relationship with Hollywood filmmakers and studios, whose involvement he sought in his company’s plans to build a Hollywood-style film and entertainment district in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.
In September 2013, Wang flew in actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Beckinsale, and John Travolta to help launch an $8 billion mini-Hollywood in the coastal city of Qingdao.
In January of 2015, Wang acquired a 20% stake in the Spanish football club Atletico Madrid.
Wang runs his company with iron-discipline where he expects his employees to obey his directives very promptly; an employee who delays in carrying out his directives or disobeys the company’s dress code is fined. Wang Jianlin is married to Lin Ning. The couple has three children; two sons and a daughter.
Wang’s popular quotes are; “Winning comes from preparation, learning from failures and hard work”. Also, “a business which is just for making money is a poor business”. Wang Jianlin’s net worth as of December 2015 was $32.4 billion making him the richest man in China and the 26th richest in the world.
Business Lessons from Wang Jianlin
Partnering with the government:
Wang once said during the World Economic forum, “China is a government-oriented economy. No one can say he can run his business entirely without government connections. Anybody who says that he or she can do things alone with any connection with the government in China is a hypocrite,”
The same applies to many economies of the world; the government is its major driving force. Many of the world’s millionaires and billionaires got their wealth with the assistance of the government or aided by influential people in government positions. The richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote, is one fellow who has benefited immensely from his extensive connections with different governments.
The same thing with the second richest man in Nigeria, Femi Otedola, whose diesel supply business was greatly aided by the connections his father had made while being Governor of Lagos state. If the opportunity presents itself align yourself with different governments, make it a habit to know people in power, learn to pay homage and grease palms graciously. Even if your warm expression of respect and regard does not earn you anything at the moment it would most likely open doors for you in the near future.