After starting out her career in Taiwan’s growing travel and tourism industry, Lily worked for a marketing consultancy before leaving to found her first company.
As CEO of Lily Wang Art Solution, the intrepid innovator worked to connect artists, private collectors, art galleries and auction houses and offer a one-stop art solution service.
Keen to dive into the world of fashion and luxury and further develop her entrepreneurial skills with an MBA, Lily sold up and moved to Milan where plans are afoot for her next big business venture.
What are your career plans?
My plan is to successfully develop my new business idea: to create an international network between start-up companies and investors in Asia and Europe.
With [a] focus on the fashion and luxury market, I see myself successfully bridging Europe and Asia [and] bringing the two regions closer together when it comes to growing businesses.
How do you explain your passion for entrepreneurship?
I love to be challenged and every challenge is a great opportunity to acquire new knowledge.
The excitement [you experience] when you believe in an idea which you’re going to develop is like when you see something that you want to have so badly that all the blood comes to your stomach and you feel butterflies.
What did you learn from your experience of setting up your first company?
Founding my own company was the most inspiring and influential experience I’ve had.
The business was a success; we started to make a profit within a year. I sold my shares to another shareholder and although they changed the name, the business is still growing stably and expanding into other fields.
One of our major challenges was the directing of merchandize and the planning of art decoration and collection, based on customer needs and desires. I learnt the importance of relationships and networking and the virtues of getting things done and not giving up when it matters most.
What advice do you have for MBA graduates looking to start their own company?
Being an entrepreneur is probably the most difficult job you’ll ever have! You need tremendous courage to sacrifice your career, time and money and fully engage in the business idea you believe in.
Networking is very important. Your MBA classmates, professors and alumni could all be very important assets and useful connectors. You can never be a one-man show. You need to meet excellent people or partners to help you grow your business.
When you make your first deal, you’ll feel extremely satisfied but at the same time, you’ll feel more nervous and stressed for the next challenge, as you try to achieve your ever-growing goals.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
With an MBA you get an overwhelmingly full picture of business.
While I was leading my own company, we were very dependent on outsourced professional service professionals, such as accountants and lawyers. I realized that in order to successfully manage a company — even if you cannot do all the work yourself — a general understanding of the processes within and around your business is a great asset.
Why did you choose to study at MIP?
The diverse, international culture of MIP is the ideal environment for me to open up my mind and challenge myself.
In addition, Milan is an epic city of art and luxury and my on-the-ground experience will allow me to gain important insight and expertise in the field.
What are the biggest cultural differences between living and working in Europe and in Asia?
People express themselves more directly in Europe. When I first moved to Italy, I felt offended! Then I realized it’s just the local culture and the common way people express their feelings is different to what I’m used to.
After the experience of an MBA, would you have done anything differently?
I would have made sure that I optimized my competitive advantage. I never realized that one of my greatest personal assets is my cultural knowledge and my ability to grow a business internationally, especially into the Chinese market.