Executive experiences success thanks to hard work, bright ideas and business acumen Marc Guten, international director of Vacheron Constantin, has broken new ground in the luxury products industry. As a business student at a Paris university, he set up a design company with some friends to experience enterprise management - designing, producing, supplying and developing a distribution centre in France. The business concept, which was new at the time, prospered. Four years later, Mr Guten became the commercial director of Comptoir Sud Pacifique where he created a commercial department based on that same concept which is still used today. In the early 1990s, he joined Cartier which had just acquired Piaget, Baume & Mercier and Aldebert, a French luxury products distribution corporation. He set up a direct mail sales department for Aldebert, the first in France's luxury goods industry. At the age of 28, he was appointed director of Piaget. He restructured all the distribution resources and opened boutiques in Paris and Monaco. In just three years, he quadrupled the company's turnover. In 1994, he was promoted to co-director of export for Cartier's Asia-Pacific region. His luxury market distribution experience developed further as he was required to distribute Cartier, Yves Saint Laurent Accessories and Duty Free Shopper's products to boutiques in Asia-Pacific and the west coast of the United States. He faced the challenge of dealing with countries, cultures, codes of practice and products which were new to him. In 1996, the Richemont Group bought Vacheron Constantin and appointed him as director for Asia-Pacific before he was promoted to his present position in 2002. 'It's the passion and enormous amount of time spent that accounted for [my] achievements,' Mr Guten said. 'I enjoy my work and find pleasure doing it, despite having much to do. But success never comes alone. You need a strong team of quality colleagues to work together. As a team leader, you must let your staff express themselves. I like working with young people who can give me inspiration.' Mr Guten said that to convince the rich to buy luxury products, one must ensure that they were of fine quality and able to keep their market value. The product sold must also be in line with the brand's philosophy. 'You must know and understand the DNA of your brand and heritage, as this will drive the way you work.' Mr Guten opened Vacheron Constantin's regional office in Hong Kong and also began marketing the brand on the mainland. He said Hong Kong's return to the mainland in 1997 and China's open-door policy provided the confidence and long-term vision the company needed to set up boutiques in both places. Mr Guten said the brand had a long-standing business relationship with China since 1820 when the Constantin family, founder of the watch brand, first travelled to the mainland. His mission now is to reestablish the brand in China after it reopened its doors to the outside world. He said more communication, however, was needed in dealing with the mainland market. Spending seven years of his career in Asia, Mr Guten has fallen in love with Chinese art, and he particularly loves the beautiful colours of contemporary Chinese paintings. Some of his favourite painters include Wang Guangyi and Yue Minjun.