Paolo Guidotti: An Inspiring Entrepreneur & An Impactful Mentor

Paolo Guidotti: An Inspiring Entrepreneur & An Impactful Mentor

Paolo Guidotti , Managing Director

Paolo Guidotti

Managing Director

Just as a skilled captain can guide a ship through turbulent waters, a competent leader who understands the intricacies of the business and market can navigate toward success - even in the most challenging of times. Numerous traits describe such leaders: strong communication skills, talent acquisition and retention, customer relationship management, realistic optimism, out-of-the-box thinking, fast decision-making, and more. But in today's world, a successful leader needs to showcase mastery in various aspects of the business while also being a proactive learner and an empathetic problem-solver.

Today, we have the pleasure of introducing one such leader, who represents it all: Paolo Guidotti, Managing Director of Guidotti. In the diverse and vibrant culture of Thailand, Paolo is a leader, who can drive hospitality and textile businesses in the right trajectory as an impartial ‘constructive’ critic to those businesses that consult him through Guidotti.

A successful entrepreneur who runs restaurants and a C-suite/directorship leader in the textile space, Paolo has emerged as a true visionary and mentor. As we look to the future, we need more leaders like Paolo - individuals who embody the spirit of diversity, creativity, and excellence that makes Thailand so special. We hope his story, which is presented by CEO Insights Asia, will inspire you.

Take us through your professional journey.

My journey started in 1984 when I took up an internship with Pan Pacific Hotel and covered  five kitchens. After this, I was poached by an American textile company with operations in Bangladesh. Despite being a high school graduate with no prior experience, I was hired due to my perfect English, and my boss, who recognized my potential. In a short span, I grew exponentially and eventually established my own business in Hong Kong in 1988.

In over thirty-eight years, I have had the privilege of working for major brands such as Calvin Klein Jeans, Timberland, North Face, Wrangler, Armani Jeans, Replay, and Dolce & Gabbana, among others. However, for the last twenty-two years, I have primarily focused on consultancy. My role is to help organizations identify their weaknesses and develop a plan to fix them, thereby ensuring their success. Apart from my professional background in the textile industry, I also have a passion for Italian cuisine. I started cooking as a child and learned at any opportunity. In 1992, I opened a restaurant in Hong Kong called Midnight Express, which did quite well for many years.

Remember to listen to the advice of those who have come before you, as their experience can be invaluable in navigating the challenges of the industry

In 1997, I went back full-time to the apparel business. I moved to Thailand for the first time in 2003, which was when SARS had broken out, and I worked in production in the clothing industry. I then returned to Hong Kong in 2007. Within one year, I decided to take a break from the garment industry, where I had achieved major professional success internationally and moved again to Thailand, where I founded a travel company that offered customized tourism services to clients. I re-entered the textile industry, and was instrumental in adding a lot of value to VF Corporation - first in operations based in our headquarters in Hong Kong; then in Thailand as the Regional Country Manager (Southeast Asia); then to India for the integration of Timberland into the company. In 2014, I was transferred again to London as the Sourcing Director.

In 2018, I decided to leave Hong Kong to start a new venture in Thailand by opening an Italian restaurant, which was soon very successful. Unfortunately, COVID-19 happened, and I had to adapt and adjust my business accordingly. I converted my restaurant into a deli concept which worked incredibly well. Despite the pandemic's challenges, I continued to expand and establish a new restaurant, Paolo's Deli, with over eighty-five seats just outside of Bangkok, which is now a thriving establishment.

What drives your daily routine and keeps you going?

I have a ten-year-old adopted son, who is my primary motivation, and my passion for business is another driving factor, of course. For me, it's all about problem-solving for organizations. I thrive on ensuring that our organization runs smoothly, our staff is well-cared for, and that everything is taken care of. Even in the face of challenges, such as the pandemic, I reopened our fourth location to provide employment for my staff. Investing in my team has been very rewarding, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to keep moving forward.

What is your success mantra?

In the first twenty years, my path to success was about continuous learning. Even after starting my own company, I took up different positions in various organizations to learn new skills. For instance, when I became the Quality Assurance Manager for the Asian Pacific region at Calvin Klein Jeans, I had never worked as a quality controller before. However, since I was in a senior position, I understood what quality was all about. My success mantra is simple: never give up and always find a solution. I'm an optimist, and I believe that every problem has a solution.

Could you share your leadership approach with us?

As a leader, I focus on empowering my teams to execute high-growth opportunities and solve challenges through innovative methodologies, while keeping the big picture in mind. My leadership philosophy is based on trust and fostering an ownership culture that inspires team members to take ownership of their work and drive success.

I follow an inclusive methodology, where I give my team specific tasks and instructions, but also give them space to work independently. I am very hands-on and coach my team members if they have any questions or need guidance. With my thirty-eight years of experience, I use my knowledge to train and develop my team members in every position that I have held.

Paolo Guidotti, Managing Director, Guidotti

An Italian, born in Nigeria, and lived in numerous countries, including Eritrea, South Africa, Italy, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Germany and now settled in Thailand; Paolo is truly a global citizen!

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