Alumni News - December 2014 - page 4

HKUST Alumni News 2014
Bright & Clear Ideas
Wesley joined Xinyi Glass right after graduating. It was a China-
based company specializing in automotive glass, plus smaller
volumes of architectural glass. As executive director, he oversaw
export sales and finance. Growth over the next few years was
steady. By 2003, the company was looking to invest HK$2 billion
in a new plant in Dongguan as part of its long-term development
plans, so it began to prepare an IPO. It listed in Hong Kong in
February 2005. Xinyi Solar was established as a subsidiary the
following year, with turnover climbing steadily to HK$1,968 million
by 2013. Under Wesley’s direction, the solar business was spun
off, and Xinyi Solar – now the largest PV glass manufacturer in the
world with a 20% market share – was listed in December 2013.
Xinyi Solar’s start was tough at the beginning because of
market uncertainties. “Although we could see a bright future for
solar energy, the global financial crisis affected the European
market in particular,” he says. “Solar energy needs big investment
in terms of production, but banks were not lending because of
the crisis. And then the solar market crashed in 2011 because
of oversupply.” He explains the
company’s response: “We looked
at the fundamentals of the industry.
We needed to cut costs, improve
production efficiency and change
our market strategy, but we were
confident that people’s focus on
the environment meant the future
looked bright.”
He puts the subsequent
success down to Xinyi’s solid
background in glass manufacturing technologies, and its strong
corporate culture of teamwork. A major development has been the
development of downstreamoperations, through the establishment
of its own solar farms. “As a buyer through our solar farms and a
supplier of solar glass we really are promoting the product,” says
Wesley. The company now has two production bases in Wuhu
and Tianjin, producing 2,900 tonnes of solar PV glass combined.
Wesley has followed a traditional
career path in the industrial sector,
but his vision and understanding
of markets has led to success at a
young age. It hasn’t been easy and
he has had to steer the company
through tricky waters.
Wesley Lee, CEO of Xinyi Solar Holdings Limited
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