Lee Seow Hiang
CEO, Changi Airport
Zhou Qunfei’s story is the embodiment of the China dream. From humble beginnings when she wondered where the next meal was coming from, she is today China’s richest woman and in 2018 was named by Forbes as the richest self-made woman.
Born into a poor rural family and having to drop out of high school at 16, Qunfei eventually put together $3,000 to start her own company in 1993.
Originally selling watch lenses, her company Lens Technology now has a market cap of roughly $20 billion and is a supplier to the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Huawei, among others.
Zhou has said that the key to her success has been continuous innovation. In 2001 Lens Technology replaced traditional Perspex phone screens with glass. In 2013 the company began investing in sapphire and 3D curved glass.
More recently Zhou has begun developing and producing industrial robots and intelligent manufacturing equipment with the aim of transforming the traditional production line.
“The Chinese economy has entered a new phase of transformation, upgrading and high-quality development, and the private economy is a main driver that can promote the high-quality development of the Chinese economy,” Zhou told China Today.