This time we shine the light on the story of a woman technopreneur, Michelle Zhang (CEO and Founder of MUSE), a China-born Australian entrepreneur. Michelle is a true technophile who has used cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, virtual reality (VR), and blockchain to transform online shopping into a social experience that has taken the industry by storm. What sets Michelle apart is her unwavering passion for technology and her dedication to using it to solve the world’s pain points.
“If you wanna change the world, what you need is passion and technology,” asserts Michelle. She firmly believes that to change the world, you need to have fire in your belly and the right tools at your disposal. She is a force to be reckoned with, a corporate individual who is results-driven and possesses the expertise to deliver tech solutions that are perfectly aligned with organizational needs.
Our tete-a-tete with Michelle revealed a fearless woman leader who is agile and has a rare ability to conceptualize and deliver innovative solutions. Her track record demonstrates her ability to drive innovation and progress. She is also credited with establishing significant diversity and inclusivity, which have transformed organizational practices and created new opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups to pursue careers in technology.
From Investment Banking to Global Entrepreneurship
Michelle’s story is one of determination, innovation, and boundless ambition. Born into a family of businesspeople in China, she inherited her family’s entrepreneurial spirit and went on to achieve remarkable success in the world of business. After obtaining her Master’s degree in Australia in her twenties, she began her career in investment banking. Over the next 16 years, she gained extensive experience assisting companies with mergers and acquisitions, as well as capital structure management, across a variety of industries, including technology, energy, fashion, and manufacturing.
Michelle’s expertise and leadership skills led her to play key roles in several commercial cooperation projects, including a significant project worth over 1.5 billion RMB for an SPM park in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. Her investment in the energy industry in Spain in 2013 was also a major milestone in her career, as the client firm was awarded one of the world’s most innovative clean-tech companies.
Michelle joined DONGTIAN Holding in 2017, which was the first beauty business to be listed on China’s stock market, and served it globally. She led the company’s transformation from a traditional business to a global brand, catering to Generation Z by operating in cosmetic products and clinics with high margins. Her entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas propelled her to the forefront of the global business world.
MUSE: A Revolutionary Platform for High-Value Collectibles
Michelle recognized the need for innovation and progress in the world of high-value collectibles. She set out to create a revolutionary platform that would bring security, trust, and sustainability to this market. Thus, MUSE Technology Pty Limited and MUSE & Partners Pty Ltd were born in 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. With Michelle at the helm, MUSE Technology is set to revolutionize the collectibles market and provide collectors with a platform that truly reflects their passion and expertise.
MUSE Technology is a game-changing, AI-powered data analytics decentralized app that specializes in collectibles. This unique platform leverages the latest advancements in AI, data, and blockchain technology to provide collectors with a streamlined and secure way to buy and sell high-value items.
The unique feature of MUSE Technology is its accurate and up-to-date valuation of collectibles. This powerful tool provides users with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about buying and selling. By incorporating blockchain technology into the app, MUSE ensures that all transactions are safe, secure, and genuine. This means buyers and sellers can transact with confidence, knowing that their information is protected and their collectibles are authentic. It also adds transparency to the market and can help prevent fraud or price manipulation.
In addition, MUSE is more than just a marketplace. It is a community that connects like-minded individuals who share a love for high-value items and collectibles. It fosters a community of collectors, enthusiasts, experts, and influencers. It is a platform for anyone who is passionate about these items and the stories behind them. MUSE provides a one-of-a-kind method of minting NFTs, allowing users to preserve the legacy of their valuable items and collectibles.
Fostering Luxury Ecosystem
“We are giving luxury a new life” is not just a slogan at MUSE; it is a mission. Its community is dedicated to making a difference in the world of luxury by promoting sustainable practices. MUSE’s team not only promotes the resale and reuse of high-value slow fashion items but also the circular economy. The team’s commitment to promoting a circular economy and ethical consumption is both financially and socially responsible. Through its platform, it enables individuals to repurpose luxury items that would otherwise go to waste.
MUSE is also leading the way in sustainable practices by implementing eco-friendly operations and reducing its carbon footprint. Its community of collectors and enthusiasts who care about sustainability and ethical consumption share its values, helping to make a difference in the fashion world.
Commitment to Sustainability and Innovation
MUSE has a culture that is steeped in values that are as elegant and sophisticated as the platform itself. Their core values of reliability, integrity, innovation, collaboration, transparency, accountability, and sustainability are the driving force behind everything they do. They claim that there is no greater luxury than sustainability.
Technology is another core value at MUSE. According to them, success depends on knowing where you have been and where you are going. They don’t settle for the ordinary because they think that being extraordinary is the only way to stand out. MUSE also realizes that there is no finish line and is dedicated to constantly pushing forward and improving.
MUSE’s culture and personality reflect their commitment to people’s values. They prioritize exceeding client expectations by delivering high-quality work tailored to their unique needs. They value building long-term relationships with clients and work closely with them to understand their preferences and develop customized solutions that meet their specific requirements.
Rising Above Adversity
Michelle, a mother and successful leader has been through the wringer on her journey to success. She knows that the road to the top is a rocky one, especially for women in a man’s world. However, she has soldiered on, overcoming every obstacle that has come her way.
Michelle got married right after her graduation ceremony, and her first child was born in the same year. Her husband left her when their second child was only four years old, leaving Michelle to raise her children on her own. Those were difficult times, filled with pain and suffering. However, she knew who she was and chose to be herself, and this decision helped her become the strong and resilient leader she is today.
“I appreciate the difficulties I had in my life and how I get stronger. Now I am enjoying solving problems. Problems are no longer problems to me, they are experiences,” Michelle adds.
Leading with Vision and Inspiring a Team at MUSE
As the founder and CEO of MUSE, Michelle has a wide range of roles and responsibilities that contribute to the success of the start-up. Her primary duties involve developing MUSE’s vision, culture, and strategy, setting goals and objectives, and outlining the direction of the company. She also uses her life experiences to inspire and motivate her team, contractors, clients, and collaborators.
In addition to her visionary role, Michelle takes care of the day-to-day operations, financial management, stakeholder management, and business development. Michelle realizes the value of reputation for any brand, regardless of industry. As a result, she puts great emphasis on maintaining MUSE’s positive reputation, believing that it is crucial to the company’s success.
Combating Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
In the tech industry, promoting diversity and inclusivity is crucial, and Michelle is taking steps to make a positive impact. She believes that the issue of gender disparity in the tech industry is a complex one that requires attention and effort to address. As a woman leader, she also understands the struggle of balancing professional responsibilities with personal and family obligations, which can lead to burnout and setbacks. She overcame these obstacles, nevertheless, by developing confidence, relationships, and networking. She encourages and supports women to pursue careers in tech to ensure diverse perspectives are included in the development of technology.
With Michelle’s leadership, MUSE is creating an environment where women feel valued and included in decision-making processes. She is committed to promoting equality and providing support and opportunities. She is fostering a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion, offers equal opportunities and support, and encourages respect and open communication. Michelle opines that by doing so, she can help prevent gender discrimination in the workplace. Furthermore, she understands the significance of providing flexible work arrangements, particularly in a post-COVID world.
Tech Trends to Watch
According to Michelle, three major trends are shaping the future of technology. These trends are set to have a significant impact on the industry, its customers, and the world as a whole. To begin, artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant progress in recent years and is expected to become even more prominent in the future.
Second, as the world faces serious environmental challenges, sustainability-focused technology is becoming increasingly important. There is a growing demand for technology that can help address issues such as climate change and resource depletion, such as sustainable energy production and consumption, efficient transportation, and environmentally friendly manufacturing and agriculture.
Finally, the internet of things (IoT) is the interconnectivity of various devices and objects through the internet. IoT is increasingly being integrated into various industries, ranging from healthcare and retail to agriculture and manufacturing, as smart devices become more prevalent.
“MUSE focuses on creating innovative products and services that align with these trends to meet the evolving needs of their customers,” Michelle states.
Balancing Work and Motherhood
Being a mother of two, Michelle is known for her unique approach to work. She believes in single-tasking and devoting her full attention to a single task at a time. This approach has enabled her to achieve excellence in her work while also maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
As a busy professional, Michelle finds it essential to create specific times for work and personal life and stick to them. Despite her frequent travels, she never misses any of her children’s school events. She sets aside January for a family ski holiday and switches off her phone while enjoying the snow in Zermatt with her children.
Aside from work and family, Michelle enjoys skiing and boxing. She finds skiing to be a great way to leave behind everything and enjoy the beauty of nature. “At the end of the day, life is a journey,” Michelle notes.