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Meet Ping An’s Jessica Tan - How This S’porean Became The 2nd Most Powerful Woman Outside US

Two weeks ago, CEO of Temasek Holdings Ho Ching was ranked the 20th most powerful woman outside of the United States in 2020 by business magazine Fortune.

Contrary to media reports, she isn’t the only Singaporean to make it onto the list.

The other Singaporean who made the cut is Jessica Tan, co-CEO and Executive Director of Ping An Group, China’s largest insurance company.

She is ranked the second most powerful woman outside of US this year after making her debut on the list at fourth place last year.

But who exactly is Jessica Tan and how did she come to head one of the largest companies in China?

She Is An MIT Graduate

Just like many Singaporeans, Jessica attended a neighbourhood school — the now-defunct Kebun Baru Primary School — in Ang Mo Kio.

Her A-level scores were good enough to get her into the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but she didn’t take the scholarship route.

To finance her overseas education, her father — who was an employee with US technology firm Texas Instruments — even borrowed money.

Jessica Tan ping an group
Image Credit: McKinsey

However, his savings were wiped out when the Asian Financial Crisis struck in 1998.

Jessica then juggled three jobs to put herself through university and applied for financial aid from MIT.

She managed to graduate with two Bachelor of Sciences in Electrical Engineering and Economics, and attained a perfect GPA score for her Masters in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

From McKinsey To Ping An Group

After graduating from MIT in 2000, she stayed on in the US and landed a job at leading consulting firm McKinsey.

While she was there, she worked in 15 different countries over 13 years and rose to become partner.

One time, she was posted back to Singapore under McKinsey and worked with Ping An Group, which was then trying to build one of the largest shared services centres in China.

Jessica helped Ping An develop a major new campus in China — a job she was reluctant to take on.

Her Chinese proficiency wasn’t as good at first and she was worried that she would face difficulties working with the Chinese.

Peter Ma ping an group
Peter Ma / Image Credit: SCMP

However, she had the opportunity to meet Peter Ma, founder of Ping An Group, who built the company from scratch and strongly encouraged risk taking.

She made the career switch in 2013 to Ping An after 13 years as a consultant and moved to their Shenzhen office where she has been based at.

Nominally an insurance firm but in effect a data-driven tech company, Ping An Group ranks in the 29th place on the Fortune Global 500.

Rising Through The Ranks To Be Co-CEO And Executive Director

Ping An Life Insurance Of China
Image Credit: Reuters

The 43-year-old now serves as co-CEO since 2018 and Executive Director of the Group since 2019, after joining the firm as its Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO) in 2013.

As COO, Jessica has navigated Ping An’s deep dive into tech. Under her role as co-CEO, she continues to oversee the group’s technology ventures, which are the backbone of the company’s operations.

During her tenure at Ping An, the Group has earned record profits and doubled its share price.

Jessica Tan ping an group
Jessica Tan / Image Credit: Ping An Technology

The Group also grew into one of the world’s largest financial services companies with over 210 million retail customers and 560 million Internet users.

She also personally incubated and managed some of the following: an online wealth management and lending company Lufax, fintech SaaS company OneConnect, automotive Internet platform Autohome, as well as Ping An Smart City.

Spearheaded Ping An’s Healthcare During COVID-19

Jessica Tan ping an group
Screengrab from Bloomberg video

Their recent healthcare technology breakthroughs, helmed by Jessica, include Ping An Good Doctor, Ping An Smart Heathcare and Ping An HealthKonnect.

Ping An Good Doctor provides end-to-end service for patients, including 24/7 online consultations, prescriptions, referrals, appointments, second medical opinions and drug deliveries.

These services are supported by the in-house full-time medical team and proprietary artificial intelligence (AI)-based medical system.

In 2019, Ping An Good Doctor became China’s largest online health care services platform, with more than 315 million registered users, 729,000 daily consultations on average, and a professional network of more than 3,000 hospitals and 94,000 pharmacies.

Ping An Good Doctor
Image Credit: Ping An Good Doctor

Between 22 January and 6 February as the COVID-19 outbreak peaked in China, the number of new registered users increased tenfold compared to the period from 1 to 21 January.

The average number of daily online consultations also grew nine times over the same period.

For medical service providers, Ping An Smart Healthcare launched its COVID-19 smart image-reading system in early 2020 to assist doctors with fast and accurate diagnoses — in as fast as 15 seconds, with an accuracy rate above 90 per cent.

As of July 2020, Ping An Smart Healthcare supported a network of nearly 17,000 medical institutions across 90 cities in China.

For payers, such as social health insurers, Ping An HealthKonnect uses advanced algorithms and technologies to build anti-fraud and health care resource optimisation models to reduce over-treatment, fraud and abuse.

As of the end of 2019, Ping An HealthKonnect provided services for over 800 million people in more than 200 cities.

Spearheaded by Jessica, these achievements clearly highlight why she deserves her spot as the second most powerful woman outside of the US.

Featured Image Credit: PRNewsfoto/Ping An Technology / FinanceAsia

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