Jennifer Li, Baidu Chief Financial Officer

If you’re an internet regular then you must have heard of Baidu, otherwise known as China’s Google. And within its ranks come the 98th most powerful woman according to Forbes Jennifer Li.

Baidu CFO Jennifer Li

Baidu CFO Jennifer Li

Li, prior to joining Baidu as its Chief Financial Officer, came from General Motors’ financing arm GMAC where she actually spent her entire career from Canada to the U.S. to Singapore to China to North American operations.

Hmm… so. Having various overseas assignments does not necessarily make one powerful but it’s the depth of knowledge you got from those places as each of us has a unique kind of radar. As they say – “knowledge is power” – yet only if you use it. And so, Baidu used that knowledge with its distinctive understanding of the Chinese language – and onto your computer screens.

But wait. Li is into finance – she’s the company’s CFO. Thence, she should be known for things like acquisitions, investments or most anything involving money. Well, Baidu has not really been that aggressive with such moves save for late; so how did she become among the powerful?

If you notice, Li’s power actually came with Baidu’s growing user base (since the organization is basically about the internet) and which is not even half of the Chinese population. Also, among her responsibilities include marketing and communications as well as human resource management. Oh, talk about what a CFO really is, huh?!

Yet she’s doing just fine. She understands the trends of the youth as the average age of a Baidu employee is 15 years her junior, thereby, making it easier to communicate to this generation of users. Otherwise, you should be hearing of Li’s refining of duties, reassignment or ousting – right?

In all, we could see that Jennifer Li recognizes that for Baidu to maintain its lead, the company needs to maintain good relations with the Chinese government. For the firm to sustain, it has to work more on its features. And for the organization to really grow and fruitfully evolve, it has to learn to truly “diversify” – something that a traditional CFO (or specially a forward-thinking executive) should be aware of and which is always a challenge.

What’s your take?