In 2010, Du Shuanghua made headlines all over the world when he sold Rizhao Steel, a steel company he had founded and built up over the course of 25 years, for $2.3 billion. This was an incredible accomplishment, and it made Du one of the richest men in China. In this article, we will take a closer look at Du Shuanghua’s life and career, and discuss why the sale of Rizhao Steel was such a monumental event.

Du Shuanghua was born in September of 1949, during the later years of China’s Civil War. Du grew up during this tumultuous time, and his family often struggled to survive. As a child, he went to school at night under street lights because his hometown lacked electricity. Later, things were no easier for Du; as a young adult, he served for ten years as a soldier in the People’s Liberation Army.

In 1978, Du Shuanghua left his job as a PLA office and began working as an accountant at Rizhao Steel, which had been founded four years earlier by a small group of workers from a local machine-tool plant. In those days, Rizhao Steel was something of a factory town unto itself. It employed over 10,000 workers who lived in company-provided housing and typically commuted to work by walking along well-worn paths through the surrounding farmland.

Rizhao Steel was in dire straits in 1978. The plant had difficulty competing with larger steel mills due to its higher costs, and it suffered from serious cash flow problems. Du Shuanghua was undaunted – he began working at the mill with a single-minded focus that quickly came to characterize his tenure as general manager of Rizhao Steel.

Du’s first step was to re-write Rizhao’s accounting system. He studied the system of the company’s main competitor (which still exists today) and copied it successfully. In so doing, he established a reliable internal financial reporting system for Rizhao Steel. Read more about Du Shuanghua