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Formula for success

China Daily | Updated: 2014-04-29 08:10

After chatting for over two hours, Piva felt comfortable enough to ask a simple but, for him, important question: "As a foreigner, how can I succeed in China?"

"As an answer, I was expecting some special management principle or something from Confucius, but he replied to me with a smile: 'Kai Xin (open your heart and be happy). Every time you can do that, in China everything will be much easier,'" he says.

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"Very often, especially when I am upset and disappointed, I follow his suggestion and it works."

That has given him the right formula to get along with Chinese people and succeed in China for two decades.

During the trip, Piva met Xu Yong'an, now the president of Hengdian Group, which Xu's father Xu Wenrong established.

Like many Chinese producers, Xu was eager to find international buyers for his chemical products. "He took me to a karaoke bar to relax. It was an interesting experience to see the mindset of a young Chinese businessman," says Piva, who became close friends with Xu after that.

Growing up in a Catholic family in Milan, Piva got his degree in economics and international business at the Catholic University of Milan. After spending a period in the Italian police and studying management courses at San Diego State University in the United States, he joined the Italian branch of Sumitomo Corporation as a director's assistant.

In 1999, he was appointed European leader for the company's business development with China. In 2006, he finally accepted a job offer from Xu. Piva now is general manager of the Chinese company's branch based in Milan.

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