Courage to ‘keep going’

Facing hardship, Jackson Ling persevered throughout his early life. Today, he leads a multinational with compassion and a desire to help change lives for the better.

Jackson Ling and his wife, Ming, celebrated the naming of the Lin-Kuei Jackson Ling Classroom in Bauer Hall with their children: Ozzie (left), Kathy (second from right) and Carlie (right).
Jackson Ling and his wife, Ming, celebrated the naming of the Lin-Kuei Jackson Ling Classroom in Bauer Hall with their children: Ozzie (left), Kathy (second from right) and Carlie (right). (Courtesy photo)

Guo Jing, the protagonist of the Chinese novel The Legend of the Condor Heroes, rises out of ­poverty, overcomes many obstacles and emerges a powerful fighter whom few can equal.

“The character inspires me,” says Lin-Kuei Jackson Ling, EMBA-Shanghai ’04, the CEO of Enhance Holdings Company, a multinational conglomerate based in Taiwan. “Guo Jing never gives up. With integrity and faith in his principles, he overcomes hardship and earns the respect of everyone, even his enemies.”

Ling was born in 1953 and raised in a single-parent family in southern Taiwan. “My mother was abandoned by an irresponsible man,” he says. “Words cannot describe the poverty and hardship we faced every day.”

While Ling’s mother struggled to maintain steady work, she taught her son about responsibility, courage and trust.

“Whenever I had a setback, I could hear my mother’s voice: ‘Son, be strong, keep going.’ She never left my side.”

— Jackson Ling

Determined to do well, and with few options for a better life, Ling enlisted in the Taiwanese army. During his eight years of service, he completed his high school and college educations. “Whenever I had a setback,” he says, “I could hear my mother’s voice: ‘Son, be strong, keep ­going.’ She never left my side.”

Ling persevered and set his sights high. At 25, he left the army to work as a sales representative at Singer Sewing Machine Company. He excelled at the job and a few years later entered the international trading market. He also managed a small company in Taipei that manufactured lighting. In 1993, he founded Enhance Neon Shanghai, the largest neon sign manufacturer in the world.

As Enhance Holdings grew, Ling looked to expand his own capabilities. A friend introduced him to the Washington University-Shanghai ­Executive MBA program. “At Olin Business School, I met many people who worked in ­different fields,” Ling says. “This broadened my social circle and provided me with new and ­valuable information.”

The education Ling received helped him ­restructure his company and develop businesses in sectors that include real estate, the golf and hotel industries, and biomedicine.

To add value and spur growth, he invited two of his children, both Olin alumni, to join the company. Kai-Chun Kathy Ling, BSBA ’08, is in charge of Enhance Biomedical operations, and Kuang-Yeh Ozzie Ling, EMBA ’14, oversees the ­Enhance Golf Club business. Ozzie also is the owner representative of Crowne Plaza Shanghai Anting Hotel.

“Through their Olin education and interaction with its alumni circle, Kathy and Ozzie present innovative ideas that have helped improve our enterprises,” Ling says.

The company’s fastest-growing arm is ­Enhance Biomedical, Ling says. “We recently obtained a license from the Chinese central government to build a Stem Cell Medical Center in Boao, Hainan Province,” he explains. “The ­hospital, to be built within the next three years, will allow us to ­introduce the most advanced stem cell banks, treatments and medicine to ­researchers and ­doctors worldwide.”

A leader’s perspective

Ling made his first gift to Washington University in 2005, and over the years he has had a profound impact at Olin Business School. Recently, he made a commitment to fund the annual Lin-Kuei ­Jackson Ling Scholarship at the business school and to name an 80-seat classroom in Bauer Hall.

“Jackson’s story is one of great courage and compassion for ­others. Washington University is proud and deeply honored to have Jackson, Ming and their family in our community.”

— Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton

He has supported his alma mater in other ways, through service as a member of the Olin National Council and the International Advisory Council for Asia. In recognition of his many contributions, the Olin School honored Ling in 2006 with a ­Distinguished Alumni Award. Ling and his wife, Ming Chu Kuo Ling, are life benefactors of the ­William Greenleaf Eliot Society.

“Through his dedicated service, wisdom and remarkable generosity, Jackson Ling has helped  ensure a strong future for Olin Business School,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton says. “Jackson’s story is one of great courage and compassion for ­others. Washington University is proud and deeply ­honored to have Jackson, Ming and their family in our ­community.”

Ling says, “Chancellor Wrighton and the ­administration give us a strong sense of belonging to the Washington University family. I ­admire their dedication to quality education and to long-term success.”

Changing lives for the better has become a way of life for Ling. Working with the local government in Jiading, a suburban district in ­Shanghai, Enhance Holdings sponsors a scholarship program that has helped more than 500 poor ­students obtain an ­education. A point of pride for Ling: Of those students, 80 percent have been ­admitted to colleges.

On the home front, Ling is the adoring and ­celebrated grandfather of 2-year-old twins, Victoria and Edward, and their baby sister, Elizabeth.

If a society needs compelling stories to survive, flourish and reach new heights, Jackson Ling offers his for the record books.

“To become successful, you must put yourself in the boss’ shoes every day and think from a leader’s perspective,” Ling says. He also promotes honesty, fulfilling commitments and upholding the ideals of heroes like Guo Jing.

“Hardship,” he says, “can stand among our ­richest sources of strength.”

 — Cynthia Georges retired in May 2016 as a senior associate director of development communications.

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.