panlistsThis morning I participated in a panel discussion at the 2013 CPA Congress in Sydney on ‘The Rise of Asia’.  Facilitated by Ticky Fullerton, our discussions explored what Asia capability is, and how we achieve it.

photo (2)There has never been a more timely discussion. As Australian businesses, we need to get Asia capable, and we need to do so now.  Just one of the ways we can expedite our Asia capability is through leveraging the talents of our diverse population.  However, the Diversity Council of Australia  ‘Capitalising on Culture’ report released today reveals just 2% of Senior Executives and 4% of Directors in ASX 200 listed companies have an Asian background.  This contrasts to our population data which tells us 10% of Australians have an Asian heritage.

To engage with Asia we need to ensure the leaders of our organisations have, as Alex O’Malley, the CEO of CPA a fellow panellist so succinctly put it “strategic intent”.  To be successful in the region takes time and commitment, and as the CPA demonstrates so clearly, their sixty years in the market is paying off.

What’s needed?

Awareness – of the region and the opportunities and realities there

Perspective – an understanding of how our ‘Australianness’ is not universal, and differs to the business practices of many cultures of the region

Knowledge – of the distinct cultures, political, institutional, economic and social environments in Asia

Capability – to adapt, adjust, innovate and perform in this new business environment

Asia capability is not ‘nice to have’, it’s a critical strategic imperative for business success in this Century.