Meet Silla Giusti, our general manager of Architectural Coatings (AC) Italy & Traffic Solutions (TS) Europe South. He shares his experience about how to make acquisitions work, the beginnings of TS and why he feels lucky to work at PPG. For him, it’s all about acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, as this helps remind you exactly what you love about the job you are doing.
Silla Loves Being on Top of Multiple Tasks
Silla is based at our Cavallirio plant in Italy and oversees all aspects of the AC business in Italy. Since the Ennis-Flint acquisition, he has also become general manager for TS Europe South.
“I’m a generalist – I like being on top of multiple tasks. This makes my job a little bit more challenging but definitely more interesting.”
He spends more time on the AC side, which has the biggest scope, and tries to dedicate one day a week to two distinct customers. However, he says his most important task is supporting his team and trying to lead by example.
“These general management roles mean interacting with the team every day and making small improvements. This really gives me satisfaction.”
“I'm Not a Chemicals Guy”
Silla gained his Master of Science in economics before being employed as junior sales manager in the food industry. Three years later, he became business development manager, where he spent five years before completing a year as export manager.
Now 18 years into his career at our company, Silla considers himself lucky to have worked for other companies before us. “I concluded that I have fitted so well in here for so many years because our company spirit perfectly matches my character and values.”
He spent six years as business director, Packaging Coatings, for Greece and Egypt, eight years as market director, Automotive Refinish Coatings, for South Africa and Malta and the last four in his current role.
“Changing jobs requires a steep learning curve but will only benefit you afterward.”
“Acquisitions Are About Aligning Cultures”
Silla’s first acquisition experience came from a previous company when they bought another business. Then when he joined us, he was in charge of our residual BASF and then the Ennis-Flint acquisition.
Managing an acquisition is like driving a car where not all parts are working – you have to run the new business, fix surfacing issues, and ensure a smooth integration, all simultaneously.
For him, it's about aligning cultures. The more different the cultures, the more complex the acquisition. Merging with another big corporation is about finding where your similarities overlap. But acquiring a medium-sized company needs more finesse as the cultures can be quite different.
“It requires a sort of blending. You want minimal disturbance to both companies and ensure that as many of your new colleagues as possible choose to stay.”
Tackling the Challenge of Traffic Solutions
We launched our Traffic Solutions business unit as a result of the Ennis-Flint acquisition. This new business unit manufactures pavement-marking products, including paint, thermoplastics and other advanced technologies. It also works with our mobility team to identify opportunities related to autonomous driving infrastructure and enhancing autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicle solutions.
“It is a niche business and quite specialist. We focus on traffic and bike lanes and airport and commercial buildings. It has completed our coatings range, which is a typical mission for our company.”
Right now, TS has a strong presence in North and Latin America, with a smaller presence in the Asia Pacific and EMEA (UK and Italy). One challenge has been the scattering of sites. Another has been learning about this new market and the products and ensuring they meet our high standards.
Something Silla is super #PPGProud of is our uncompromising approach to ethics and safety.
If we acquire a company with lower safety standards, then we need to invest. And whenever I need to make a decision from an ethical or safety standpoint, I am always completely backed by the company.
Balancing on Three Feet While Taking Gambles
Silla is Italian/British, which probably explains his international mindset
. Although he was born in London, Silla now lives in Como, Italy, with his wife and two sons (aged 17 and 20).
He tells us that though he’d not call himself a workaholic, he really enjoys working long hours but always tries to keep a good perspective on things. He is also careful to make sure he balances out his hard work.
“As a leader, the pressure can become quite tight because you always need to deliver the best, possible results. So I organize my life to balance on three feet – work, family and sport. Even if it means waking up very early in the morning, I do sport three to four times a week.”
He says it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses when you progress in your career and understand what you enjoy.
At the end of the day, if you’re going to be successful, it's got to be fun. When you realize you’re working in your comfort zone, then it's time to change. Take a gamble.