Major Australian companies lacking Asia skills – report

by Brett Henebery15 Aug 2017
A new report by Asialink Business and the Institute of Management and Leaders as well as PwC, has found that just 10% of Australia’s ASX 200 companies demonstrate a high level of Asia skills and knowledge.

These skills include knowledge of the region's markets as well as proficiency in Asian languages, the latter being the least common skill among ASX 200 companies, the survey of 376 directors and 546 top executives found.

The average Asia capability score of an ASX 200 company director is 6.42 out of a maximum 30. Senior executives scored an average of just 3.79 out of 30.

The report’s co-author, Andrew Parker, PwC’s Asia practice leader, said that if the last 25 years have been about shipping our commodities to Asia, the coming decades will be “a story of services and consumption fuelled by a rapidly expanding Asian middle class.”

“Future generations will not mark us kindly if we do not get this right,” he said.

The report urged companies to adopt more detailed reporting practices to recognise market-specific returns within Asia and to consider establishing an Asia-capable advisory board.

It also called for a better use of the large Asian diaspora in Australia, with only about 4% of the ASX 200 board members being of Asian descent, less than a third of the proportion of the total population.

Asialink Business’s chief executive, Mukund Narayanamurti, told The Australian that having a long-term growth strategy and the right capabilities are essential for succeeding in Asia.

“However, many business leaders feel constrained by a lack of information, pressure to show short-term results, and negative public perceptions about Asian investment,” he said.

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