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NSYSU awards Honorary Doctorate to Eric Lee, 4th generation successor of Jiu Zhen Nan Foods

National Sun Yat-sen University held an Honorary Doctorate award ceremony during its 40th anniversary celebrations. NSYSU President Ying-Yao Cheng conferred the Honorary Doctorate in Management to Chairman of Jiu Zhen Nan Foods and outstanding alumnus of NSYSU Eric Lee, honoring his efforts in promoting the aesthetics and culture of Han pastry, building a Taiwanese brand of the local traditional industry, marketing it overseas, and fulfilling the company’s social responsibility by making an outstanding contribution to education, environment, and culture.

Eric Lee is the 4th generation successor of Jiu Zhen Nan Foods, who took over the management of the company in 1996. He injected cultural and creative spirit into the traditional food industry and succeeded in passing on the aesthetics and culture of Han pastry. Deeply aware of the importance of brand for the Taiwanese industry development, he dedicated himself to the mission of elevating the prestige of the “made in Taiwan” label. Not only did he succeed in making Jiu Zhen Nan Foods a household name in Taiwan but also marketed it abroad as a premium product, improving the international visibility of Taiwan. He has also willingly been sharing his experience in brand management with the world and established the National Sun Yat-sen University JZN Brand Research Center. Lee also became appointed as the Director-General of the Taiwan Excellent Brand Association in 2020 and took on a different role, providing advice on brand-building and overseas promotion of Taiwanese companies. Eric Lee spared no effort in engaging in CSR, having obtained the carbon footprint certification of products, Gold LEED Certification by the Green Building Certification Institute, and in collaboration with Experimental Forest of National Taiwan University planted 15,000 trees of native species, such as Taiwan incense cedar – these are all his achievements in the field of environmental sustainability. Every year he donated part of the company’s profit to support charity events and help the disadvantaged.

“Behind every successful company there is a great university”, said Eric Lee emotionally in his speech. Lee established a link with the University in 2003 when he started the EMBA program. “During two years of studies, I didn’t only gain knowledge in management. The most important thing I learned was gratefulness and passing on the inheritance – and this changed my life”, he said. He also mentioned that NSYSU, since its establishment in 1980, educated numerous professionals and the elite of the society: there are about 50,000 alumni in the world. Many alumni maintain strong sentimental ties with their alma mater and are committed to supporting the younger generation. Eric Lee emphasized that heritage is passed on through learning. By giving back to the University, the alumni contribute to building a positive cycle and togetherness between the people of NSYSU and maintaining the culture of gratefulness and inheritance.

“Having graduated from the EMBA program, I learned two important things: clear brand positioning and good business management.” Lee shared his experience and reflections on managing a business. He said that when he took over the management of Jiu Zhen Nan Foods, he decided on the most important development directions of the company. “Back then, I concentrated on Chinese-style pastry to turn Jiu Zhen Nan Foods into the best brand of Han pastry for Chinese-ethnicity people.” “‘Do the business right’ is a principle representing the corporate culture of Jiu Zhen Nan, as well as ‘do the right things’“. Eric Lee said that the University is the driving force for the development of enterprises, not only providing education, but also collaboration opportunities to access academic research results and join the forces of USR and CSR.

Eric Lee was elected as President of the NSYSU Alumni Association for two terms of office and had been the counselor for the development of academic affairs for 10 years, as well as the President of NSYSU College of Management Alumni Association and the member of the University Fundraising Committee. Besides organizing many events to bring NSYSU alumni together, he also put efforts into the promotion of academic affairs, including the crowdfunding for the scholarships as part of the Soaring Far and Wide Project that supports students from disadvantaged families studying abroad. He also donated funds for the construction of NSYSU International Building, Alumni Service Center, NSYSU EMBA Center, and the first Harvard case study classroom at the College of Management. This year was seriously struck by the COVID-19 pandemic; Eric Lee also donated money to the University’s emergency aid fund to help the students whose finances were affected by the epidemic continue to study.

In a previous interview, Eric Lee said that “the market changes too abruptly, and thus one cannot just think about making money and forget about contributing to the wellbeing of the society”. Under Lee’s leadership, Jiu Zhen Nan was awarded the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Award twice: in 2019 and 2020 New Star Awards by Commonwealth Magazine, and a Special Award in the category of small and medium-sized companies in the traditional industry in the Annual CSR Survey by Global Views Monthly, as well as the CSR Influence Award by PwC. He modestly said that being awarded the title of outstanding alumnus in 2006 by NSYSU was an encouragement for him: he didn’t dare to rest on his laurels, and felt motivated to continue progressing to contribute to the University and the society.
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