Oct 22, 2020|

JDer Lab #8 with Jeff Chai: Embracing Changes and Challenges


by Kelly Dawson

JD.com’s more than 280,000 employees range from warehouse workers to nation-renowned doctors, with a wide range of backgrounds and areas of expertise. In the next installment of our JDer Lab series, we speak to Jeff Chai, a management trainee in JD’s strategy division.


When Chai graduated from an American university in 2017 with a master’s degree in applied analytics, most of his peers chose to pursue finance or investment banking. But he wanted a different path, one that explored new territory and innovation in an evolving industry. Later that year, he joined JD’s headquarters in Beijing.

“I chose JD because I wanted to challenge myself, and because I wanted to do something different,” he said. “I got what I wanted at JD.”

In his time at China’s largest retailer, Chai has tackled many challenges, but 2020 has been a particularly meaningful year. As COVID-19 has accelerated around the world, JD has participated in various initiatives to support virus-fighting efforts.

“We spent almost 3 weeks, day and night, to generate a final solution to send masks from China to Europe and Latin-America to help them fight COVID-19,” Chai recalled. “Every person’s work, every small challenge was tough to overcome, but with passion and responsibility. I think everyone is proud of what JD did. I think this is how a company shows its social responsibility.”

For Chai, the emotion and pride of realizing the masks had successfully arrived in Europe, and were in the hands of people who could now face the virus safely, contributed to his best day so far at JD.

There have been other highs too, but one thing has remained constant: change. “Here at JD, everyone is used to changes, not only from the inside, but also from the outside world. The world is changing fast, so we have to embrace change.”

In his experience, some companies don’t encourage evolution, or their employees don’t have the confidence to adapt to evolving circumstances. But at JD, those changes are expected. JDers don’t fear change because they are aiming to be pioneers in the industry, Chai said.

This quality defines his colleagues, Chai said—along with intelligence, passion and professionalism. In his first year at JD, his small team did not have quantified KPIs, but every member of the group pushed above and beyond to achieve their goals. They didn’t want to settle for being “working machines” simply going through the motions, he said.

“They wanted to push themselves,” Chai said. “They hoped to do better, not just good. Those are JDers.”