Dong Mingzhu, the woman in charge of massive air-conditioning company Gree Electric, has not taken a day off in her 27 years of work—nor has she taken any paid holiday leave during that time.
She started at Gree as a salesperson back in 1990, when sales were exponentially lower than today. She proceeded to dazzle her supervisors with an exemplary work ethic and penchant for improving the company. Now, Gree earns more than $12 billion a year in revenue. They were at $10 million when Mingzhu started.
She is currently ranked atop the Forbes China list of 100 Top Businesswomen, and has been labeled by The New York Times as “one of the toughest businesswomen in China.” Her peers claim that “Where Sister Dong walks, no grass grows.” Of course, ‘toughness’ when used in this context isn’t always so flattering, unless you’re Mingzhu.
In her 2006 autobiography, titled Regretless Pursuit, she refuses to apologize for her intensity and focus, citing difficult instances throughout her life that have forced her to act strong.
In 1984, just a few years before starting with Gree, she lost her husband. As her workload began to increase years later she was forced to hand her son over to be raised by his grandmother. He was only 12 years old at the time.
Mingzhu’s autobiography was ultimately turned into a television series on China Central Television.
She is still looking to grow Gree Electric into an internationally superior brand, striving in many areas. Among them, robotic technology, solar energy, and China’s smartphone market. An additional goal is to instill greater confidence in Chinese made products by setting a new standard for quality.
Mingzhu has already established Gree as the world’s largest household air conditioning unit maker and China’s largest household appliance maker. This is largely due to her ability to transition the company from a traditional, brick and mortar store into a prominent online seller.
Mingzhu isn’t merely viewed as a successful businesswoman, she’s admired for being a successful businessperson in general. In 2006, she was ranked as one of the “Magnificent 10” economic leaders in China. Nine years later, she would top Fortune’s list of the Most Influential Chinese Businesswomen for the second consecutive year.
Now that we understand the magnitude of her work ethic, we can see how she’s gone 27 years without a day off. Now that question is, will she ever take one? Mingzhu says no, not until she is retired. With this much energy at age 61, it would appear she might never walk away from her career.