100 Next-Era CEOs in Asia 2014 -The region's best brightest, most promising-

Ilinoi

CEO & President Shi Xiaoyan

 
Birthplace
China
Message to young people
 

My parents worked for the military and I have an older brother and two older sisters. When I was born, my father wanted another son, so I was adopted by a military couple who didn’t have a child. But I was returned to my parents as I kept crying for a couple of days after being adopted. My brother and sisters were brought up with strict discipline, but I was raised in an easy environment, so I could do what I wanted to do. After graduating from high school, I went to the School of Nursing of the Peking Union Medical College.

After graduation, I got a job in the orthopedics department of the Peking Union Medical College Hospital. But during my four years at the hospital from the age of 18 to 22, all I did was carry bedpans, so I thought this was not what I really wanted to do. Around that time, I started to study English. While my ability was poor, I joined a foreign-affiliated computer company. Then I met my husband (now ex-husband) who asked me to work at his company. He was the Chinese representative of a Canadian company and I became his assistant. After marrying, we had a child and later my husband was transferred to Singapore. Between 1989 and 1993, the Gulf War broke out, which triggered sky-high real-estate prices, and after dealing in real estate for two years, I realized that I liked interior design. While I was in Singapore, I applied to a university in the United States and entered an interior design school in Chicago. During summer vacation, I went back to China and bought property in Beijing with money I had earned in Singapore and I continued with real-estate dealings.

At that time, there were no furniture stores for middle- or upper-class homes in China. One day, a real-estate developer came and asked me to import furniture from the United States. To provide that service for them, I opened a small store in China. That was the first Ilinoi store.

Having had a business for 16 years, I have experienced many things I cannot forget. For example, three days after opening a store, it was a Chinese New Year day and I was threatened by people holding hand grenades. I also found the government was not supportive. I had quarrels with customers and got in trouble with a competitor and so forth.

I would like to upgrade the company to be a middle- or higher-level manufacturer. I would accept anything that enhances the company’s management standards.

Company Profile

Name
Ilinoi
Headquarters
China
1995
employees
600
business
Production and distribution of furniture and furniture design
url
http://www.ilinoi.com/