Galilei Circle of Friends - Interview with Diego Triboli

Galilei Circle of Friends – Interview with Diego Triboli

Today we bring to our “Circle of Friends” the story of Diego Triboli, passionate F&B expert and long time expat living in China. Diego lives in Kunming, the beautiful and warm capital of Yunnan Province, having a F&B product distribution company (mostly Italian) and an Italian restaurant as a branch. He serves “family-trattoria” style cuisine, with particular attention to classic Neapolitan style pizza. Enjoy his story!

INTRODUCTION – Personal relationship with China
I worked as a technical designer for several years for a company in the Lecco area that produces molds for car body parts. In 2002, after a trip to Central America, feeling the need for a “change of scenery,” I decided to leave my job and accept an offer from an Italian company in Guatemala. The company I worked for then proposed a business trip to China, specifically to Volkswagen in Changchun, in the northeast. Intrigued, I made the decision to accept and postponed the experience in Guatemala to an unspecified date. On May 21, 2002, I arrived in Changchun, and today I find myself here with my family and my own company, far from Guatemala.

I worked as an expat until 2009, traveling extensively within China (Chengdu, Shanghai, Suzhou, Jingdezhen). Therefore, I had the opportunity to experience extreme prosperity in the new cities and, conversely, a step back in time in the outskirts or less developed areas. This helped me develop a sense of adaptation without which it would be impossible to lead a peaceful life in China, where you must be prepared for surprises, where the easy becomes extremely difficult, and the impossible becomes achievable in a matter of minutes.

BUSINESS in China and with China
Twenty years ago, there were many more situations of “backwardness” from a Western perspective, which was very clear and in contrast to the first signs of unstoppable development. Even in business, foreigners were seen as “gods” from whom they had only to learn. Whereas now, it’s almost the opposite; they no longer need us. Therefore, the comfortable situation in which foreigners lived over the years has faded or changed drastically. I have always found people who treated me well, especially after the initial period of distrust and once they understood the business model I am pursuing – less focused on being a businessman and more centered on the human aspect.
That’s why I have found myself better in Yunnan, which is undoubtedly the area in China where people and business are most connected to cultural roots of sharing the land among many cultures, ethnicities, and different languages.

Knowing the local language is undoubtedly crucial for business. A significant part of the development of my company is due to the fact that I have always traveled alone, by car, to various remote areas of Yunnan – we are everywhere. Our business is mainly concentrated in this area, also due to commercial agreements with our suppliers. We are not heavily tied to technological development, but from ordinary restaurant refrigerators, we have moved on to remotely controlled freezer cells.
China is still a vast area for business, and in my opinion, there are still many possibilities. “Our” difficulty lies in not being able to keep up with the speed of change in this area. Only those with this “superpower” have managed it and are continuing to do so. This, in my opinion, is the core point of the future of business in China.

Interview by Marco Bonaglia

Please share: