As the 2020 recipient of the Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award, “Henry” Haipeng Zhang 00MBA (known to readers as Feng Tang and known to the Emory community as Henry Zhang) is a man of many talents, earning global accolades for health care reform in China and strategic business leadership. As a complement to his sharp acumen in the business world, Zhang is at once creative and intuitive, earning global renown as a best-selling novelist, fine artist, and inspirational speaker.
“I owe all my major achievements to what I learned at Goizueta. Without the business knowledge and skills, I could not have obtained an offer from McKinsey & Company, could not have the opportunity to work for a huge conglomerate as their head of strategy, could not got the chance to play a vital role in changing the almost unchangeable China healthcare landscape,” he says. “Without the MBA learning experience in Atlanta as a fresh medical school graduate, I could not have the drive to work on my first novel Everything Grows. The Sheth Award is a confirmation that I have learned the right things at Emory, and I have done the right things after I graduated from Emory.”
Throughout Zhang’s life, he has demonstrated an unyielding passion for learning and sharing his gifts with society. He has written, “In the past thirty years, I have gone from an era of extreme material scarcity to an era of extreme material proliferation.” Zhang has come to realize that “Having more, even much more, does not mean that you are happier,” he reflects. “The future business models have to address the deeper causes of human happiness. Having more is just not the direction to go.”
To achieve work/life balance, Zhang briefly took a hiatus from business and moved to California where a publisher challenged him to re-translate Tagore’s Stray Birds. Controversial and much criticized, the translation was eventually banned and removed from shelves in China. Zhang defends his work as a better reflection of contemporary Chinese language and history.
As an author and poet, he is a self-described audacious and free man who weaves autobiographical elements and business expertise into stories that incorporate social taboos. Zhang crafts thought-provoking novels, essays, poetry, and short stories. Perhaps best known to his global audience as the beloved novelist Feng Tang, Zhang earned several People’s Literature Awards in China, was named to the Top 20 Under 40 Literature Masters in China and lauded by Chinese GQ magazine as one of the world’s most influential writers in recent history. Many of his books have been adapted for television, streaming video, film, and have earned billions of loyal viewers. As a literary figure in China and beyond, Zhang is also recognized for his calligraphy and frequently demonstrates his art through museum exhibitions and collaborations with noted artists and photographers.
Read more about the Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award, established in 2002 by the generous gift of Madhu and Jagdish Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt professor of marketing, seeks to recognize Emory University’s international alumni who have distinguished themselves in service to universities, governments, private-sector firms, and/or nongovernmental organizations.