INSEAD Participant Interview

A Senior Executive Programme for Asia

Mick Sharp

Regional Security Director, Asia Pacific
International SOS/Control Risks
August 2013

"Anyone with an Asian regional remit would find this programme of great benefit."

Can you please introduce yourself?

Born and raised in Australia, I have a PhD in Politics from the Australian Defense Force Academy at the University of New South Wales and a Masters of Asian Studies (with Distinction) from the University of Western Sydney.  I have lived and worked extensively internationally including, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Vietnam, India and the UK.

I am currently the Regional Security Director, Asia Pacific for Travel Security Services, a joint venture between International SOS and Control Risks, based in Singapore. International SOS is the world’s leading medical and travel security service company with 700 locations and over 76,000 medical and security providers worldwide. 

My role is largely focused in operations specifically the areas of risk mitigation, crisis management and evacuations. Prior to my current role I was Head of Information and Analysis with Travel Security Services based in London, UK; before that I was the Director of Global Intelligence for International SOS based in New Delhi, India and formerly in a counter terrorism role with the Australian Government.

What are some of the key challenges in your current role?

My challenges relate to managing a very diverse and senior team throughout the Asia Pacific region. These challenges extend from the recruitment process, to training and integration within the company. Due to the nature of our business, individuals we hire have a very complex background with many coming from the military or the intelligence industry. Most have spent the bulk of their careers working in various countries outside of their birth country.

An important focus for me is to ensure that best practices are being employed by our team, taking into consideration individual’s background, their cultural diversity and geographical remit.

What made you decide to come on the Asian International Executive Programme?

The Asian regional aspect of the programme was the major draw and for me, personally, the general management and core business learning was also an important feature. I was interested to see how the participant diversity could contribute to the learning, especially those from the more traditional, mainstream industries.

What kind of expectations did you have and were those expectations met?

INSEAD, and this particular programme, came very highly recommended by a colleague and my expectations were definitely met.

What were some of the key takeaways from the programme?

A key takeaway for me, possibly more so than other participants, was the updated business management learning and specifically how this could be applied in an Asian setting.  I also found the mix of geographic context and the universal application of growth and innovation strategies very instructive. 

Overall I found two principal aspects provided significant value to the programme. These were the focus on refreshed core business principles plus the cultural diversity, and perspective, of the participants.

Has what you learned on the programme helped you in your role and with your current challenges?

I have been able to apply programme learning directly into my daily responsibilities and have also cascaded information through to my team. In particular I have adapted some of our approaches to the market and on leveraging our competitive advantage. A specific example is that I have included an innovation workshop in our upcoming bi-annual regional management meeting.

What did you think of the teaching?

I thought the teaching was excellent. Faculty was very knowledgeable with fresh ideas and, importantly, the ability to harness and facilitate engagement from participants. The actual format of teaching was a really good mix of workshops and lectures and the delivery of information was impressive. Even the traditional ‘information delivery lectures’ were highly engaging.

Did you benefit from the diversity of participants on the programme with you?

The range of participants was undeniably a benefit and varied greatly both in cultural background, job function and industry. From a total of 36 programme participants there were 16 nationalities represented! I really appreciated the frank exchange between participants. The level of openness and sharing was a pleasant surprise considering the range of cultural diversity.  The faculty did a fantastic job facilitating participants to engage, share and speak up.

What would you say to someone considering doing the Asian International Executive Programme?

Don’t hesitate!  It’s a lively, fresh programme that forces you to step out of your day-to-day mindset and think at a broader level. Participant diversity provided a unique perspective that was very beneficial to the overall programme learning.

Note: To address the evolving needs of senior executives operating in the region, the Asian International Executive Programme has been succeeded by Leading Business Transformation in Asia.

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