The Chinese Dream belongs to each Chinese person. Women of China (WOC) has been interviewing Chinese women, from various sectors, and sharing their stories of pursuing their dreams. In this edition, WOC interviews Li Jing, general manager of Hebei Dingkang Oils Co., Ltd.
Manjianghong edible oils, produced by Hebei Dingkang Oils Co., Ltd., have been popular in recent years in Handan, a city in northern China's Hebei Province, and several provinces in western China.
Li Jing, a native of Handan, and Shao Jincai, her husband, established the company in 2006.
As a result of her business success, Handan Women's Federation in 2015 named Li one of the city's leading women entrepreneurs.
Before she started her business, Li was a nurse in a hospital in Handan. She did her job well, and she was honored as one of Handan's 10 outstanding nurses.
In 2003, Li married Shao, an employee in the Handan Office of Shandong Shenxian Oil Factory. In 2005, Shao lost his job, as the factory closed its office in Handan.
To make a living, Shao started an edible oil business. Li quit her job to help Shao, who did not have enough time to handle all matters by himself.
Li had much to learn about doing business. To ensure the quality of the products, Li studied at Hebei Food Inspection and Research Institute for several months. She also obtained the senior-level, food-quality-tester certificate.
In 2009, Li traveled to central China's Henan Province to sell Dingkang's products to a factory. While she was bargaining over the price with the factory's manager, the man said something rude to Li, and they ended up in an argument. The companies, which had cooperated previously, terminated their business relationship. Li realized, as a result of that incident, that she had to improve her approach to doing business.
"You can never change the direction of the wind, but you can change your own course," Li says. She has since put much effort into improving her negotiation and management skills, and she has achieved a sound knowledge of the production and storage of edible oil.
To expand business, Li in 2012 contacted Harbin Jiusan Group, a large, State-owned enterprise in northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province. As Dingkang was a small, privately owned company, Harbin Jiusan's manager refused to meet Li.
She didn't give up. She traveled to Harbin every week or two. Although Li caught a bad cold on her fifth trip, she stayed in the city and waited for a chance to talk with Harbin Jiusan's manager. Li's determination paid off, and Harbin Jiusan agreed to let Dingkang produce its Beidahuang non-transgenic soybean oils. Dingkang became the only authorized producer of Beidahuang oils in Mainland China, and its products have always passed quality tests.
Li has always pursued technological innovation. In 2012, she realized there was demand for high-quality oil bottles. Thus, she led her employees in the designing of more functional and better-looking oil bottles. Two years later, Dingkang introduced a high-quality PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic-bottle production line.
Li often says she is lucky, because she has understanding parents, a loving husband and a cute son. She also appreciates the fact that she has a career about which she is passionate.
"When one starts his/her career, he/she has an ideal or an expectation … However, there is always a distance between his/her dream and reality. You must hold on and fight for your dream when you suffer setbacks. My husband and I have firmly stuck to our dream of producing high-quality edible oils. We believe that private enterprises have the strength and the responsibility to guarantee food safety in China," says Li.
(Executive Editor: LEI YANG, Women of China English Monthly December 2016 Issue)
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