INSEAD Participant Interview
Business Management Strategy in Asia-Pacific
A participant experience of ‘Building the Business: Strategies for Asia Pacific’* programme
"I now understand more about how and why business in Asia is relationship based versus transactional focused business in Western countries."
Can you please introduce yourself?
I was born in London, UK and moved to Australia as a teenager. I hold a Master of Leadership and Management, a Diploma in Business and a Bachelor of Engineering (first class Honours and the University Medal for the top graduate) from the Curtin University of Technology.
My experience covers a broad range of industries including mining, energy, agriculture, property and construction. I have even managed a base metals mine. Ten years ago I co-founded a consulting firm in Perth, Momentum Partners, and previously worked at the boutique advisory firm, Poynton & Partners. I have close to twenty years experience consulting to resource and industrial clients
Currently my expertise focuses on the organisational and leadership aspects of strategic and business improvement programs.
What made you decide to complete the 'Building the Business: Strategies for Asia Pacific'* programme?
Since starting our business ten years ago, we have grown to now have five locations throughout Australia and our next growth phase will be concentrated on Asia. We have many clients in Asia and aim to open an office in South East Asia in 2014/2015. I wanted an executive format programme at a leading brand school and INSEAD fit the bill. The Singapore location, in addition to positive feedback from friends and colleagues, helped cement my decision to attend.
Three main reasons determined why I chose this specific programme. Firstly I wanted to immerse myself in Asian markets and learn more about conducting business in Asia. Secondly, I wanted to build a network in the region and saw this programme as a perfect opportunity to meet and connect with like-minded executives. Lastly was personal development as it had been close to ten years since I took a major course and wanted to invest in my own skills and individual growth.
What kind of expectations did you have and were your expectations met?
My expectations for the programme were to improve my knowledge and perspective on building business in Asia and to better understand the cultural complexities.
These expectations were definitely met. I found it a very useful programme.
What were some of the key takeaways from the programme?
Learning that ‘not one size fits all’ in the Asian business landscape was a key takeaway. An eye opener too was the cultural and historical aspects of Asian countries and the impact this has on business. It was interesting to learn that some western companies believe they can take a business strategy that was designed, for example, for Germany and try to implement this in Indonesia. Clearly this doesn’t work.
Has what you learned on the programme helped with your business?
Absolutely – in many ways. With the downturn in the Australian economy (after the resource boom) we have many companies seeking advice on how to take their skills globally. The learning from this programme is enabling us to better assist these companies export their core competencies specifically into Asian markets.
Our ongoing plans for expansion into Asia are also now incorporating many key learning from this programme. In particular, utilising local staff in operational roles in this region plus the value and competitive advantage that joint ventures can create.
Experiencing first-hand the strength and success of this programme in May 2013, we are now working with INSEAD on developing a customized leadership programme for a local oil and gas company to take place in all three INSEAD campuses.
Did you benefit from the diversity of participants on the programme with you?
The diversity of participants in terms of nationality, job function and industry was a massive contribution to the success of the programme. It was definitely interesting being the only participant from an Australian company and from the resource/mining industry.
What did you think of the teaching?
I thought the programme was a very positive mix of traditional theory and practical case studies. The faculty themselves were great and presented a broad range of fresh ideas plus more traditional perspectives on topics. Hearing participant’s personal experiences and stories was very useful and definitely added value to the programme content.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of doing the 'Building the Business: Strategies for Asia Pacific'* programme?
There are endless business opportunities in Asia Pacific if you can learn and understand the cultural differences. This programme provides you with these key fundamentals along with a deeper strategic perspective.