A driving force behind China’s dramatic internet growth, SY Lau is senior executive vice president and chair of group marketing and global branding at Tencent Holdings Ltd., as well as chair of Tencent Advertising. Lau has played a pivotal role in developing Tencent into China’s most valuable corporation and the world’s fourth-largest internet company. In the process, Tencent has opened internet access to hundreds of millions of people throughout Asia and beyond.

Following graduation from the National University of Malaysia, Lau pursued a career in marketing and advertising and earned his executive MBA degree from Rutgers in 2004. At that time, just seven percent of China’s population had internet access. Today, thanks to paradigm-shifting leaders like Lau, 53 percent of the country’s citizens—some 731 million people—are internet users.

Under his leadership, Tencent’s Online Media Group evolved into a highly integrated corporate matrix, spearheading the shift from traditional to mobile formats and shaping China’s new model of media consumption. The wide public acceptance of both Tencent News and Tencent Video, whose monthly active users number in the hundreds of millions, underscores the group’s influence and industry-leading position.

In a 2011 profile, Advertising Age identified Lau as a crucial figure on the social media landscape. Among many other accolades garnered throughout his career, Lau was named honorary ambassador to the city of Brisbane, Australia, at the 2015 Asia-Pacific Cities Summit. Also that year, he was appointed to Harvard Business School’s Asia-Pacific Advisory Board and was honored by the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity as Media Person of the Year.

Lau’s perspective on the digital economy and digital marketing trends has led to many other high-profile roles and appearances. His activities include serving on the boards of directors of several Chinese companies; accepting speaking engagements with the executive programs of major institutions such as Harvard Business School, Stanford University, and Oxford University; and taking the stage at prestigious events such as the Boao Forum for Asia, Viva Tech Paris, and the Brisbane Global Café aligned with the 2014 G20 Summit.

As a senior executive in a thriving Chinese industry, Lau is a key participant in cultural exchange activities and the promotion of bilateral relations between China and the United States. He has received an invitation to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner for the last several years and attended the event in 2013 and 2015.