Chairwoman and President, Gree Electric Appliances, 64
Dong’s path to the C-suite has been a winding one. Following her husband’s death, Dong found herself as a 30-year-old single mother raising a two-year-old son. In 1990, she became an air conditioner saleswoman at Gree Electric Appliances. “I didn’t want other people’s sympathy,” Dong has said. “I just wanted to live a better life by relying on my own efforts.” In her unlikely tenure as chairperson and president, Dong has turned Gree into a $22.2 billion company, but the air conditioning giant had a tough run in 2017, as Chinese home-appliance stocks have tumbled due to a slowing property market.