- CompanyWuliangye Yibin
In 1980, at just 20 years old, Chen Lin joined a team in the packaging room at the Wuliangye Yibin distillery in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. Evidently, Chen developed a taste for the mealy “five grain liquor,” acing an exam to become a master blender and sommelier of the speciality alcohol less than two years after joining the company. Chen’s palette for baijiu—the generic name for clear liquors such as Wuliangye—and her nose for business propelled her to the top of the company; she became general manager and chief engineer of Wuliangye Yibin in 2004, a position she still holds. Revenues at the liquor company topped $6.1 billion last year, and profits increased 38%, to $2 billion. Remarkably, the entirety of Wuliangye’s earnings come from domestic sales, but Chen is gearing up to take the brand global.
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