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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Does Asia have the talent to lead innovation in the 21st century??? 07-22

Does Asia Have the Talent to Lead Innovation in the 21st Century????

Scott Anthony, Managing Director, Innosight Asia-Pacific

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Economist, Founding President, Center for Talent Innovation
Diane Gherson, Vice President, Talent, IBM

Kari Reston, Head, Talent and Learning, Americas, Standard Chartered

Angelia Herrin (Moderator), Editor for Research and Special Projects, Harvard Business Review


The war for talent in Asia is intense. As companies open
business units in Asia to address growth in local consumer
demand, employees skilled in areas such as strategy and
innovation are in short supply. To address this gap,
companies must identify new sources of talent and develop
creative programs to attract employees.

Women in countries like China and India represent an
educated and motivated pool of talent, yet this talent pool is
underleveraged. There are multiple factors that employers
should consider to improve their ability to hire and retain
women including elder care, addressing gender bias, and
dealing with safety issues. Companies are also appealing to
potential employees by offering short-term international
assignments and by recruiting through social media.


The panelists discussed ways to strengthen the management
of talent and improve competitive advantage in emerging
markets such as Asia.


As companies locate strategic business units in Asia, they
face significant talent-related challenges.

Historically multinational corporations have viewed Asian
facilities as production powerhouses, manufacturing products
for developed markets. However, companies increasingly see
Asian consumers and markets as a source of business growth.
To take advantage of these opportunities, companies are
locating entire business units in Asian countries to serve
these markets.

This shift creates major stresses, as firms strive to attract and
retain talent. For generations, Asian workers built competencies
focused on efficient operations. However, business
success in Asia today is about more than just production.
Strategies are now being developed and executed in local
Asian markets. As a result, companies and employees there
need skills related to strategy and innovation. To stimulate
great ideas, companies must give local offices the budget,
autonomy, and authority to experiment and innovate.

“In years past, teams in Asia needed expat
senior executives to help execute strategies
developed back at company headquarters.
Today, as strategies are developed locally, that
no longer makes sense."
—Scott Anthony

Six years ago, IBM made the transition from a multinational
corporation to a globally integrated enterprise. Operations
are located wherever skills exist for innovation. This shift has
caused IBM to think differently about its entire talent supply
chain to support this new business model and to rethink its
hiring, career tracks, and leadership development. IBM
abandoned its traditional country-based talent management
system in favor of global recruiting, staffing, development,
and career management.

One particular challenge for the company is transferring
knowledge to international offices. New networks have been
created by transferring employees to Asian markets, pairing
senior leaders with country general managers, and creating
global social networks for employees.

In emerging markets, women are a large but unleveraged
talent pool.

In the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China),
women represent the talent pool of the future. The number of
university-educated women exceeds 26 million and over half
of college graduates (55%) are women. Women in these
countries strive for top jobs and outperform their peers in
developed economies. Since the turnover rate among women
in BRIC countries is half that of men, becoming a women’s
employer of choice is beneficial.

“Women in the BRIC countries are ahead of the
curve and are looking to be developed."
—Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Dr. Hewlett described five factors that employers should
consider as they bring women into their talent pipelines:

1. In BRIC countries, child care isn’t an obstacle for
working women. In these cultures, inexpensive domestic
help and supportive family members are the norm. As a
result, professional women don’t face the same child care
challenges as women in Western nations.

2. Elder care is a serious concern, especially in China.
Although children don’t force women out of the workforce
in BRIC countries, elder care issues loom large.

This is especially true in China where many professionals
are only children who assume responsibility for their
parents. Companies must offer new benefits to address
elder care.

3. Gender bias is commonplace in India and China. Indian
and Chinese women experience gender bias in the
workplace and few positive role models exist. Leadership
training is one way to combat this issue. IBM’s “Taking
the Stage” program, for example, helps promising leaders
develop a stronger presence.

4. Time differences must be respected. Women in BRIC
countries routinely work 72 hours per week and performance
pressures are high. Surveys show that late-night
international conference calls are the major workplace
issue women would like changed.

5. Companies should address women’s safety issues. For
women in India, China, and Brazil, safety while commuting
or taking business trips is a major concern.

Companies must take steps to ensure employee security.
Short-term international assignments are the wave of the

Many companies are replacing traditional two- to five-year
expat programs with short-term international assignments.
These shorter programs offer several benefits to both employees
and employers.

IBM has found that employees at all levels want international
experience and global assignments. To respond to employees,
the company developed the Global IBMer Program. This
enables employees to work in another country. While they
receive some allowances for working overseas, IBM doesn’t
provide tax equalization or support for maintaining a home in
their native country. This makes the program more affordable
for IBM. The initiative has been highly successful, with 20
employees per week departing for different countries.

“There is a thirst at all levels for international
experience and global assignments. The classic
international assignment doesn't meet these
needs and is on its way out."
—Diane Gherson

At the same time, many companies have established
leadership-development programs, where Asian employees
work for three to six months in mature markets.

Experience shows that these short-term programs are very
effective at disseminating ideas throughout an organization.
Sharing ideas among global employees is essential. In
addition, women benefit from short-term international
assignments, since multi-year expat programs are often
incompatible with two-career families.

Companies are using creative ways to attract international

Talent exists in many different demographic groups, even
ones that organizations may not focus on. As a result, multinational
corporations must develop creative approaches for
identifying and attracting new employees.

The panelists discussed initiatives that have been used to
address the talent crisis in Asia:

— Use customer preferences to drive employee diversity.
In 2006, Standard Chartered’s research revealed that
many of the bank’s Indian clients were women. A new
type of branch was piloted with only female staff
members. Customers were more comfortable in this
environment and the concept has now been adopted in
India and Sri Lanka.

“In India, we learned that our business model
could drive greater diversity among our
—Kari Reston

— Leverage social media to identify talent. Standard
Chartered recently launched a social media contest
targeted at Gen Y called the World’s Coolest Intern. The
winner spent six months in the Singapore office tweeting
and blogging about the company’s new iPhone app. This
individual is now a Standard Chartered employee.
Social referrals have also been very effective for IBM.
Employees share hard-to-fill job openings with Twitter,
Facebook, and LinkedIn contacts. One employee
generated 263 referrals and one-third were hired.

— Focus on quality of work life and family. To retain
talented employees, compensation levels must be
competitive. However, quality of work life is just as
important. Research shows that Chinese employees
highly value the community, physical comforts, and
intellectual challenges of the office.

Also in Asian cultures, the extended family is very
important, as is the recognition by one’s family of
working for a prestigious employer. Tapping into this, a
senior manager at a Standard Chartered office in China
calls outstanding young employees’ families to praise
their work. And in India, IBM has developed a brochure
targeted at parents.

— Focus on underleveraged talent. In some countries,
businesses place higher value on certain types of
education. For example, in India and Latin America,
engineering degrees are preferred. Recognizing the local
“pecking order” and targeting graduates of less popular
degrees may uncover untapped talent pools.

— Promote the benefits of global resource and leadership
development networks. When employees and interns
join IBM, they are connected to a powerful global
resource network. In addition, they have the opportunity
to participate in the company’s Corporate Service Corps.
This program sends employees to countries around the
world to develop leadership skills, while working on
community-driven economic development projects.
Access to these international opportunities attracts
talent to the company.

— Look for candidates with raw talent. Many organizations
prefer candidates with direct experience in their industry
segment. However, individuals with “raw talent” are
often excellent hires. Standard Chartered, for example,
has found that people with good hospitality skills have
the customer service orientation needed to succeed in the
company. The firm then provides training on financial

— Incent executives to retain high-potential employees. To
keep employees, it is sometimes necessary to raise the
stakes for company leaders. The CEO of an Indian firm
wanted to prevent attrition among talented female
employees. He implemented a program where executive
bonuses were decreased for every high-potential woman
who left the company.

View the webinar video


  1. Jobs in UAE - UAE Jobs
    If you are hard worker so you can get everything, now china is one of growing country in Asia, I think after few year china become one of the leading exporting country in the world.

  2. i thinks in asia there are more Career options then any where in the world.