michael evansLooking to increase business from outside China, Alibaba Group has appointed Canadian finance executive — and former Olympic rowing gold medalilst — Michael Evans as president. Evans has a long history in international finance, with 20 years as a partner at Goldman Sachs where he was Vice Chairman, head of Global Growth Markets, and Chairman of Asia. He left Goldman last year and has been a management member of the Alibaba Group Board, serving as an independent director since the e-commerce giant’s September IPO.

Alibaba dominates the Middle Kingdom market with direct access to 350M Chinese consumers, but the landscape is becoming more competitive and the group says it is “committed to significantly increasing cross-border trade between China and key markets.” To that end, Evans will be responsible for leading and executing the international growth strategy, driving increased levels of cross-border commerce and forging close partnerships with key brands, retailers and product owners in Europe, the Americas and Asia to help them “swiftly and efficiently connect to the large China consumer market.”

Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang called globalization the company’s “most important strategy for the coming decades.” The goal, Zhang said in a statement, “is to help 10 million global businesses and serve 2 billion consumers around the world. We have been laying the foundation for many years and now we need a global team in place with best-in-class talent to bring our vision to fruition.”

In other sectors, the online retailer has been spreading its wings. Notably in the entertainment sphere where it recently invested in Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and yesterday, announced a wide-ranging deal with LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant.