“With the rapid economic growth in China, more people are willing to try new experiences with travel and American Airlines sees this expanding opportunity,” Peng said during a recent interview in Dallas, where she was attending a global sales meeting for the airline.
Peng, 35, was hired by American less than a year ago to manage its China operations from its office in Shanghai. The Fort Worth-based carrier currently has five flights to China, including its newest routes between Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and Shanghai and Hong Kong which launched earlier this month.
After spending eight years working for British Airways’ Chinese operations, Peng made the jump to American because she was interested in working for a U.S. company. She had traveled to the U.S. before and was impressed with the "spirit of advantage" she found in Americans.
"I found the U.S. a very interesting place," Peng said. "The people are warm and cheerful and bold and frank."
Unlike other Asian countries, it is not unusual to see women in executive positions at companies in China, said David Mack, an assistant business dean at the University of Texas at Arlington. In UTA’s executive MBA program in China, about 40 percent of the students in each class are women, Mack said.
"Although there is still a dominance of upper-level positions by males, there is not a prejudice, per se, regarding females such as there is in other Asian cultures," Mack said. "Part of [former Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s] cultural revolution was equality of opportunities for both genders, so this has made a difference."
To read the full story that appeared in Sunday's Star-Telegram, click here.