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Interculturality as a strength: interview with Giada Zhang

G.Iada Zhang, of Chinese origin, was born and raised in Italy. Among the youngest female CEOs in our country, she has made interculturality a strong point: she tells Wife

The Brand Mulanwhich offers a wide range of ready meals from Chinese cuisine, was born from the union of two souls: the excellence of Italian ingredients and irresistible Chinese recipes.

Interculturalityin a broader perspective, it’s just that: being able to bring the best out of different worlds to create something new.

However, the path to getting the most out of different cultures is not always easy and straightforward. Giada Zhang says she spent most of her childhood trying to figure out her identity: of Chinese origin, she grew up in Italy and with an international education. In fact, even as a child, she spoke four languages ​​but did not identify with any: “From feeling different and always out of place, I recognized my diversity as a strength. I thought about this aspect for a long time even during my international professional experiences and, in the end, I realized that combining Chinese and Italian culture could give meaning to my days. At Mulan we do just that, we are a cultural bridge between Asia and Italy through the most powerful tool: food“.

Chiku and beauty: the best of each culture

Giada Zhang tells how the secret lies in take the aspects of excellence of each culture and make them their ownto value them in their own way.

Of Chinese culture, he explains that he is very attached to a value linked to the world of work, which guides his days: chiku. This is part of the work ethic of Confucianism, and it is the ability to continue to face and overcome difficulties without ever stopping and breaking.

chiku literally it means to eat bitter. Nobody likes to eat bitter, but it happens. You have to swallow to leave then enjoy the dessert

From Italy, however, he appreciates the sunny soul of the population and the artistic, cultural and natural heritage with which he is surrounded: nature, cultural heritage, climate, good food, knowing how to enjoy life and the taste for beauty are the two aspects that close the loop by relating, for her, to the concept of chiku. “The days are long and demanding, but then the free time is lived in a country surrounded by beauty”.

The experience of a young CEO

As a young female CEO of foreign origin, Zhang has an unparalleled perspective on the Italian business world.

According to the contractor, a more inclusive world is an added value for companies and for Italy in general.

In fact, in his experience, he noticed that being young often leads to the prejudice of little experience and little credibility. On the contrary, he notes that the new generations bring new ideas and new lines of thought: unfortunately these aspects are too often underestimated.

Regarding the situation of women in the world of work, she says:

I have the role of women at heart: the gap between female and male employment is very wide and I believe that the new generations have the task of overcoming this disparity. I often find myself the only woman in the room. And if you are a young woman, the situation becomes more difficult. Credibility is only gained by dressing in more formal attire and appearing older

His desire for empowerment also derives from vision of the role of women in Asian families, which has always been secondary. Growing up in this environment, she always dreamed of being an independent woman with her own economic freedom.

Giada Zhang, CEO of Mulan Group

Currently, in Italy, only 3% of companies have one female CEO. According to the entrepreneur, in her experience, this can be due to several factors.

Women have always been seen as the weaker sex with a fundamental bias that if you’re a woman, you can’t. I believe in the strong influence of the education received and the desire, from an early age, to take more risks or to do things considered more masculine.

All this has, according to Zhang, a strong consequence in the work situation: if the man throws himself into more risky and complex situations, the woman often backs down for fear of failure.

Mulan and the importance of positive role models

The band name Mulan is a tribute to Disney heroine Mulan, which inspired Giada Zhang from an early age, who grew up listening to his legend. His grandfather, in particular, loved the stories of chinese tradition and he transmitted to her the values ​​of their culture: courage, loyalty, sincerity and devotion to the family. These are the values ​​of the ancient Chinese warriors and these are also the values ​​that guide his daily life. As he says:

It is essential that girls identify with positive role models from an early age, starting with the nurturing, empathy and trust they receive from their parents.

We asked Zhang about his current role model:

“It is Herd of Whitney Wolfe, the founder of Bumble, the first dating app where women make the first move and where the rules of the game are turned upside down. I find the story related to his company but also his personal journey very inspiring. Ever since she was a child, she has loved building small businesses and she has always believed that the secret to success is doing what you are most passionate about.”

Zhang is now in turn an inspiration to many young girls. She reminds them to maintain a high spirit, endurance, courage and courage.

I would tell young girls not to be intimidated by adverse circumstances that might prevent them from pursuing their goals.

In the kitchen with Mulan, the new cookbook in bookstores from September 27

The September 27 Giada Zhang’s first book is out In the kitchen with Mulan (Mondadori), which contains traditional Chinese recipes passed down from generation to generation by the Zhang family. Food was and is a way for many to love Chinese culture. In fact, it is often the starting point to discover different cultures.
In addition, the painting represents the identities and origins of a population. Knowing the food habits of a country helps to know more about the culture and customs. Hence the decision to write a book devoted to traditional recipes.

“When we talk about food, we easily make the link with historical facts, customs passed down from generation to generation, people’s adaptation to the surrounding environment. Basically, it’s all about food,” says Zhang.

On the cover there are also his mother Cinzia and grandmother Lin. The choice is a tribute to the family, which Giada Zhang explains as follows: “Tradition is important, it identifies our roots; it talks about us and where we come from”.

In the Kitchen with Mulan (Mondadori) is Giada Zhang's book available from September 27.
In the kitchen with Mulan (Mondadori) is Giada Zhang’s book available from September 27.

And when tradition is combined with innovation, the most special situations are created:

At Mulan we prepare grandmothers’ recipes with grandchildren’s technology: the combination was a winner

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