In November, ChapmanCG’s Tim Spriggs, Siew Chin Foo and Katherine Qu, along with Bloomberg’s Ruchika Sharma, APAC Talent & Development Director co-hosted 24 Talent Management leaders on the theme of local leadership pipelining in Asia Pacific. Among the discussions of talent management, additional points around diversity and inclusion and technology emerged during the meeting.

Local leadership in the Asia Pacific region seem to be overshadowed by expatriates and external talent, especially within organisations that are not headquartered in Asia. An interesting consequence of this is that local talent now accounts for a smaller proportion of the workforce in such organisations. This leads to the conflict of the buy vs build strategy, whether an organisation should build and develop local leadership or if talent should be brought in. The aim of an organisation should always be to reduce costs while improving performance, and building a sustainable local leadership pipeline can be a major solution.

Tailoring a local leadership pipeline structure to suit your organisation

Discussions on how to achieve a solid local leadership pipeline brought a range of points and areas that highlighted some of the struggles that organisations face today. A challenge most struggle with is that Asia currently lacks local leaders within their organisations. We often see international talent take on the senior domestic and global roles, possibly due to many organisations initially originating outside of Asia.

One possible view for dealing with the shortage of local talent was to create a rigid leadership pipeline for university students. This could be an answer in the long-term, as young talent needs to be developed over time. Recruiting young, local talent and shaping them to commit to organisations could be a feasible solution. Yet there is an issue in retaining young talent if the right platforms and programmes aren’t in place to help them develop and progress their careers.

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Diversity and Inclusion, an area that many organisations overlook

Another interesting take on local leadership development can sometimes come from within the organisation, especially if a country or region lacks local talent at senior levels. Diversity and inclusion methods can help organisations to break bias barriers and integrate different people to embrace change. In the scope of local leadership pipelining, the issue may be that organisations headquartered outside Asia struggle to adapt their diversity and inclusion policies to enable local development and career progression. The issue might also be reversed, where an organisation fails to find the balance between local leadership and external influence.

On the topic of gender stereotypes and how Asian women were sometimes subconsciously overlooked for development opportunities when compared to their male counterparts, an interesting conversation took place. The key takeaways were that an organisation must establish values—and put those values into action—that are contrary to the gender stereotypes that potentially curtail career advancements.

The use of education became apparent as a major drive for cultural change and acceptance. Tools like the social identity theory or involving employees in more meaningful communication about their personal lives (without encroaching) could help drive purposeful and effective change that counteract gender and nationalist (local vs international talent) views. Leaders within organisations must also take responsibility and action to break bias barriers, while also becoming models for talent potential.

Using technology to enable organisations to adapt to change

Technology is an enabler that allows individuals to develop in terms of knowledge, approach to work and view of international business. Exposing workers to new technologies—whether it is different learning apps, learning portals or online information—will help them develop attributes and skills that will advance their capabilities in their current role or could direct them towards new areas. Technology, when used to enable change, gives individuals insight, which often can have a positive impact on motivation. And this is key not only to develop people, but also to develop organisations.

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Here’s what the participants had to say

The session was invaluable in terms of identifying common trends emerging in Leadership challenges and sharing the varied and creative approaches to these challenges

Mark Hamilton, Head of Risk Learning, Standard Charted Bank

A good session of sharing and learning, I have particularly appreciated the diversity and the valuable business experience of the participants and their contributions to the theme of the session.

Philippe Bonnet, Vice President, Global Head of Learning & Development, HR, Essilor

A valuable platform for Talent Leaders across different industries to discuss leading practices of growing the next generation of local and diverse leaders, while capitalizing on challenges and opportunities brought forth by technological advancements and digital disruption.

Ingo Laubender, ASEAN Talent Strategist, Senior Manager, Accenture