• Workers browse books in the library and bookstore at Alibaba.com Ltd.'s headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

Workers browse books in the library and bookstore at Alibaba.com Ltd.'s headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. (Photo : Getty Images)

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has found a new strategy for its ambition to expand overseas: train young foreign employees in leadership.

China Daily reported that the company is now providing one-year training to a class of 32 young employees from 14 countries, at the Alibaba Global Leadership Academy at its headquarters in Hangzhou.

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The students will undergo hands-on training in leadership as well as cultural immersion and industry tours. They will also be assigned in rotation to different business units.

The first class started in October last year, the report said.

After completion of the training, the students will be sent to company offices in the U.S. United Kingdom, India, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Brian Wong, Alibaba vice-president who oversees the program, said that the academy intends to train students who have both a global vision and a deeper understanding of the country.

He added that the training "will help the company build a strong foundation for our future international footprint. It also shows what Chinese companies are doing to engage with the rest of the world."

Jack Ma said that the training would pave the way in "building trust and mutual understanding for a meaningful global impact."

Alibaba is targeting to serve 2 billion customers globally, with 40 percent of its sales from overseas in the coming decade, the report said.

Most of the students taking the training are graduates of premier universities such as Yale, Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge, the report said. They were selected based on strict criteria which include learning ability, strategic and innovative thinking and cultural suitability to the company.

Gary Topp, a MBA graduate from the University of Chicago, said that he was attracted by the experience of being able to study and to work in one of China's most exciting companies.

"I just came back from a company tour to the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. It's amazing to see how advanced e-commerce and internet finance are in the development of China's rural areas," Topp said.

Before joining Alibaba, he worked previously for rating agency Moody's in London and New York.

"The program, which includes teaching Chinese history, economics and politics, makes me better understand Chinese culture and the market, and I get to feel the social impact of Alibaba," said French associate Isabelle Kam, who expects to be assigned to Paris after finishing the program.

According to Xu Jian, founder of Decide Consulting, a human resources firm, the academy shows that Chinese firms are now a major attraction for top international talent.