Motivation works at Philips

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[Sao Paulo] Amalia Sina felt right at home when Royal Philips Electronics sent her on a world tour to become familiar with more than 150 key people and their leadership styles after she joined the company in November 2001. The 39-year-old Brazilian is half-Chinese and half-Polish, and is the first woman to run one of the Dutch electronics giant's international business units and sit on its international board.

"Managing a business unit in Latin America is a challenge for any company in any category," says Ms. Sina, Philips' senior VP-domestic appliances and personal-care products, Latin America. "Today companies seek executives who find solutions in spite of the crisis, which means being successful in very adverse conditions."

In Brazil, for example, Philips says overall sales of small domestic appliances dropped 2.2% last year, as Latin America's largest market was shaken by economic and political uncertainty in the run-up to the November election of a radical left-wing candidate, Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva. But sales of Ms. Sina's biggest brand, Walita, grew by 29% in 2002, and she predicts double-digit growth will continue this year at about 11% for Walita food processors despite Brazil's sluggish economy.

Before Philips, Ms. Sina was the top executive in Brazil at Wyeth-Whitehall Labs.

At Philips, one of her first projects was an internal campaign, "People Come First," to motivate employees. Ms. Sina likes to say she leads her own life by applying the "70% theory." Believing that to give 100% to every part of your life is impossible, she instead advocates that people try to consistently give 70% to work, family and so on. It seems to work for Ms. Sina, recently described by Brazil's leading news magazine, Veja, as "one of the most successful women of her generation."

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