Born in 1960 on a collective farm in northeast China, Guo weathered inconsistent education during China’s Cultural Revolution, when Mao Zedong shut down schools. Afterward, Guo was among the 1 percent to 2 percent of students earning a college slot through a nationwide exam.
He chose computer-aided aircraft manufacturing as his major. Posters exhorting young Chinese to join the country’s budding aerospace industry inspired him. "I said, ‘Jeez, this has computers, this has aircraft, this has everything a young farm boy could dream of.’ "
He completed a degree in engineering but was drawn to management matters and opportunities abroad. Guo earned an MBA at the University of San Francisco and spent several years as a business consultant in the U.S.
China’s expansion ultimately lured Guo back home. He took his Mercer post in 2001 and has seen the mainland China practice grow from 20 people to 200. Revenue from the mainland is climbing about 50 percent annually, as both domestic and international companies seek Mercer’s help with grooming leaders and managing talent.
One lesson Guo has learned is that leadership in China merits a serious investment. Another is that senior managers don’t come ready-made out of college. A varied life path, like his own, is needed.
"It requires seasoning. It requires time," Guo says. "It requires going through life and work’s ups and downs."
Workforce Management, March 12, 2007, p. 20 --Subscribe Now!