Photo of Jiao Jiao, DiDi.
Jiao Jiao is Treasury Director of International Business of DiDi, the mobile transportation and life service platform across Asia Pacific, Latin America and Russia.
She leads a team responsible for tasks including opening accounts, setting up funding arrangements, foreign exchange management and banking partner selection that has laid the ground for DiDi’s global expansion and seen the company move into ten new jurisdictions in the last three years. DiDi delivered over one billion trips in its international markets outside China in 2019.
Jiao Jiao joined DiDi in 2017, tasked with overseeing the firm’s international business. Back then, DiDi’s only presence outside China was a research and development lab in the US, requiring limited treasury needs. The company’s subsequent roll-out in Mexico in April 2018 and ensuing global expansion into Australia, Brazil, Japan, Chile, Columbia and Costa Rica has seen her role rapidly expand. Despite the impact of COVID-19, the firm has expanded in Panama, Russia and another three Latam countries this year, where Jiao Jiao counts navigating complex Russian regulation to ensure adequate cash liquidity and timely funds for the August launch of the ride hailing service a career high.
Under her leadership, the four-strong treasury team in Beijing has had to navigate a range of new challenges including regulation, time differences and working with international stakeholders including business partners and local legal and tax experts. “The objective is not only to design the treasury arrangement for each location, but also to source the right service provider and banking partners for the settlement needs,” she explains, adding that the Beijing team manage overseas jurisdictions vertically. Success has involved overcoming language barriers and getting up to speed on complex regulation including currency controls in highly regulated jurisdictions like Latin American and Russia.
Jiao Jiao’s treasury team was also instrumental in providing financial support to ride sharing drivers and couriers in its key international markets affected by the pandemic via a US$10m special relief fund.
Jiao Jiao says that building DiDi’s overseas treasury function has been “hugely different” to her previous role in compliance in the retail banking sector. However, with the support of a highly centralised treasury management system and a dedicated team led by her enthusiasm and perseverance, she has carved a new and vibrant role at the heart of DiDi’s expanding treasury function that has become central to facilitating the company’s growth. Going forward, her focus will remain on developing relationships with internal stakeholders to set up a comprehensive and robust treasury infrastructure supporting the continuous business growth.
Jiao Jiao is also a renowned leader within the company where she is particularly focused on nurturing the careers of younger female colleagues. Here she says the biggest challenge is ensuring her team can cope with a workload that has been amplified by the company’s rapid growth. She says younger, inexperienced female colleagues often face “huge pressure,” frustrating, and often overwhelmingly, “difficult situations.”
It has made her particularly mindful of the importance of communication. She insists on regular talks, experience sharing and internal recognition, group outings and regular meals out. She is also careful to ensure she delegates to younger female colleagues to allow them to build their own experience and career paths. It is only by delegating that they will be able to step out of their comfort zone and succeed, she says. Moreover, every six months she rotates her team to allow them to build their experience and expertise in new areas.
Supporting female colleagues juggling motherhood with challenging treasury roles spanning different time zones has also become central to her style of leadership.
“When I joined DiDi, my son was just about to go to primary school, and he needed me but I was working in different time zones. It used to make me so depressed that I even doubted my qualifications as a mother.” She says that the support of her team helped her navigate to “achieve both,” and that she is determined to give back to struggling colleagues. Her key advice: leave work on time. “Women have to find a suitable work style and rhythm according to their life and family, and fully communicate with the boss and team to get support.”