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This Mobile Gaming CEO Heads Up A Top International MBA Program

Heard of Plants vs Zombies? Leo Liu became a leading figure in the Chinese mobile gaming industry after his MBA. Now, he’s returned to shake up the HKU-Fudan IMBA as its new director


Thu Sep 24 2020


When Chinese games websites started hosting hacked versions of Plants vs. Zombies—the popular tower-defense style video game—Leo Liu saw an opportunity.

Then CEO of American video games developer PopCap Games in China, Leo knew that Chinese gamers don’t pay to play video games like people do in the US. 

He could have called on the lawyers and shut the piracy websites down. Instead, Leo offered them official copies of the game for free to replace the lower-quality pirate versions and agreed to share advertising revenue. Plants vs. Zombies moved to the top of the download list for video games in China.

Leo’s experience adapting management strategies to different global markets is one of many learnings he’s taking from his exciting career in gaming to his new role as executive director of the HKU-Fudan International MBA, a collaboration between the University of Hong Kong and Fudan University School of Management.


Why choose the HKU-Fudan IMBA?

Like many young kids in China, Leo was a gamer from the start. He played Doom, Quake, Need for Speed, and FIFA, online from his home in Shanghai.

Rather than joining a traditional manufacturing or finance company after graduating from university, he took up a job at The9, a small internet and online games company which landed the exclusive license to distribute World of Warcraft in China.

Leo was the 22nd person to join the firm. Within six years, he advanced to a director role, the company was listed in NASDAQ and grew to 2,000 people worldwide.

“I faced a management challenge,” Leo recalls. “I was managing a team of over 50 people in Shanghai and over 400 across China. The business was also expanding across Southeast Asia. But my approach during that time was not very systematic.

“That’s why I decided to take an MBA course; to gain a management framework and learn how to speak the global language of business.”