Most people won"t dispute it"s the courage and aspirations of founder Li Shufu that have helped shape the group"s growth, while paying scant attention to the rigor and pragmatism of Gui Shengyue.
Gui was named chief executive officer of Hong Kong-listed Geely Automobile Holdings in 2006 after having been tapped by Li in the 1990s well before Geely ventured into the auto industry.
Li and Gui, who are of the same age and natives of Zhejiang province in eastern China, struck up a solid relationship despite their different backgrounds. Li had started from scratch, while Gui was recommended by Beijing to work in State-owned China Resources (Holdings) Company in Hong Kong.
Gui reckons it"s China Resources" standardized management and regulations that have shaped his business philosophy. "Discipline and legality are important in such a large corporation. This has influenced me a lot and made me more practical."
He was a key witness to Geely"s Automobile"s development over the years, purchasing spare parts for the group and feeding it with global market information from Hong Kong. After having worked in Hong Kong for years, Gui has grown accustomed to the local business environment.
"I came to Hong Kong just after graduating from university in 1986. It enabled me to get some understanding of business rivalry in a regulated market in my early years," says Gui.
Geely grew rapidly and became one of China"s top 500 enterprises in 2002. Its speedy expansion had put pressure on the company"s cash flow because of its huge sales target and high production investment. This accelerated Geely"s desire to seek opportunities by going public.
With Gui"s help in building the company"s structure, Geely was successfully listed on Hong Kong"s stock market through a back-door listing in 2005. The initial public offering eased Geely"s capital pressure and created the path for it to climb onto the world arena.
Having been appointed to the helm of the Hong Kong unit, Gui believes a successful leader has to be good at controlling the whole situation and capable of making critical decisions.
"Although critical decisions may involve risks, a leader has to conquer them, and adopting a conservative approach won"t bring the results," he says.
"Thus, I believe, to a certain extent, all the M&As are linked to the existence of our listed company here in Hong Kong. We may not play a critical role but we do have some impact for sure."
Geely"s shares had been on a roll since the unit"s flotation in Hong Kong and the company becoming a constituent of the Hang Seng Index early last year, ending 2017 with its share price tripled.