Liu Qiangdong Steps Back From Roles, Looks Ahead to Future

Liu Qiangdong is the perfect example of the importance of dealing with change and why it’s essential in business and life to always be looking forward.

The founder, chairman, and CEO of has successfully navigated his company through economic ups and downs as well as health epidemics that caused many other companies to shut their door for good.

Through all of these challenges, his company has become one of the most successful – e-commerce companies in China. Through years of hard work by everyone – including Liu Qiangdong himself — JD has successfully positioned itself as the top online product provider of everything from fresh fruit to large appliances. It recently expanded into health products and logistics.

It’s quite a transformation from a simple stall at a tech bazaar in its early days and Liu Qiangdong taking customer service calls all night.

This fall, is at the beginning of another stage of change.

In early September, Liu Qiangdong announced that he’s stepping back from some of his leadership roles in the organization. He still will keep the CEO and Chairman titles, but he now plans to put more of his efforts into the company’s longer-term objectives as well as offering mentorship to younger company administrators.

Another goal that he’ll be able to put attention toward is being able to seek ways to improve the company’s presence in rural areas. Sometimes technology is out-of-date, and it can be an expensive undertaking to bring these communities into the present as well as plan for future needs.

Many of his roles will be assumed by Lei Xu, who previously was the CEO of JD Retail. He’ll now become president and focus on day-to-day operations and activities in the organization. This includes several business units.

Lei Xu joined the company in 2009 and has held a variety of sales and marketing positions in the retail and wireless divisions. He became the leader of the retail unit in 2018.

He’s also responsible for introducing the company’s concept of “trust-based and customer-centric value creation.”

Other management moves as a result of Liu Qiangdong’s decision include moving Xin Lijun from JD Health to CEO of JD Retail, and Jin Enlin being appointed to the JD Health position from a position heading’s marketplace. joins a recent trend of several successful China-based companies where founders and senior leaders are beginning to step down and hand some of the reins over to younger executives. However, as in this case, the leaders aren’t stepping away completely but taking on new roles looking at longer-term strategies.

Liu Qiangdong grew up in a small village in China’s coal country. Though his family once ran a successful shipping business several generations earlier, all this had been lost for various reasons.

His family grew up poor and he never saw a building over two stories until he was a teenager and visited a larger city.

With substantial effort, including financial support from neighbors – he attended the People’s University of China where he majored in sociology. In the process, he also learned about coding, programming, the Internet, and early e-commerce efforts.

After working for Japan Life, a herbal supplement company, he started his own retail company selling optical goods. During the SARS epidemic, while many people stopped working, he began to shift to e-commerce. This eventually evolved into a large organization that included different units as well as partners with shipping companies and a strong focus on customer service. The customer base exceeds 400 million and there’s plenty of potential for growth, including future expansions into Thailand and Southeast Asia.