Engaging with Asia: New research is a game changer

Engaging with Asia: New research is a game changer article image

The perceived risks of doing business in Asia have long presented a barrier to corporate Australia’s willingness to deepen its engagement with the region.

Having access to the latest, evidenced-based analysis and insights about who is succeeding in Asia, why they are succeeding and importantly, what lessons we can learn from them, will help others to make the best-informed decisions about their own engagement with Asia.

A new major thought leadership project is set to shift corporate thinking on engaging with Asia.

Asialink Business and its project partners will soon release a major report that unpacks misconceptions and dispel myths about challenges of doing business in the region.

Asialink Business – in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) and The Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation – will next month launch  the findings and recommendations of a major thought leadership project – Winning in Asia: Creating Long-term Value.

Two years in the making, this significant body of work gives Australian businesses a major insight into trading with its Asian neighbours.

New growth opportunities

“Together with our partners, we believe that this project – will for the first time – provide deep evidence-based analysis as well as a clear narrative and purpose for our top Australian corporates to pursue new growth opportunities with Asian markets,” says Asialink Business CEO, Mukund Narayanamurti.

“This project significantly builds on our previous research which has consistently highlighted that by activating even greater levels of Asia engagement by our top corporates and Australian business more broadly, we can position the Australian economy to be even more competitive in diverse Asian markets,” Narayanamurti said.

The project partners have also convened a taskforce of pre-eminent Australian business leaders and experts to validate the direction, findings and recommendations.

The taskforce comprises:

  • Mr Sid Myer AM, Chair, Myer Family Investments
  • Mr Angus Armour, MD & CEO, Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Ms Ainslie van Onselen, CEO, Chartered Accountants ANZ
  • Mr Jonathan Yeung, Head of Asian Business Banking, Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • Ms Yasmin Allen, Non-Executive Director, Cochlear, Santos, ASX
  • Mr Ajay Bhatia, MD, Carsales
  • Ms Christine Holgate, MD & CEO, Australia Post
  • Ms Sue MacLeman, Chair, MTPConnect, Non-Executive Director, various ASX-listed healthcare companies
  • Ms Diane Smith-Gander AO, Non-Executive Director, Wesfarmers and Chair, CEDA
  • Mr Peter Varghese AO, Chancellor, University of Queensland
  • Mr Martin Commons, Head of Public Policy, BHP Billiton

One of the key focus areas for the project will be to assess the level of internationalisation of our top companies and evaluate its impact on corporate performance and market perceptions.

Chair, Myer Family Investments, Sid Myer AM, says: “A great deal can be learned from those companies that have been able to successfully engage with Asia and perform at a high level. The gathering of extensive quantitative evidence on the performance of several top companies – over a period of 10 years – makes this project unique, with these learnings helping us to better understand how markets respond to firm level strategies and industry dynamics.”

The project will also examine the level of Asia-capabilities among the senior leadership of ASX-200 companies and assess how these capabilities contribute to corporate performance in Asian markets.

MD and CEO, Australian Institute of Company Directors, Angus Armour, says: “Through this work we will build our knowledge of the levels of Asia-capabilities among the senior leadership of our top companies, including at board level. This will enable us to more clearly see the correlation between these critical capabilities and corporate performance in Asian markets.

The project is based on both quantitative and qualitative research and analysis. The final report will be co-authored with leading authorities on doing business in the region, including Boston Consulting Group, Ellerston Capital and Cooper Investors.

It will also feature a range of case studies on Australian companies that have significantly engaged with Asia, as well as interviews with senior corporate leaders and other authoritative voices.

Important new insights

CEO, Chartered Accountants ANZ, Ainslie van Onselen, says: “This project will provide important new insight into the realities of doing business in Asia as opposed to relying only on perceptions and anecdotes. By identifying those business models that have produced success, it will also perhaps for the first time, enable our C-suite executives to take a more nuanced approach to assessing risk adjusted returns through a long-term lens.”

At a practical level, the project is also focussed on realising the outcomes envisioned in the Australian Government’s bilateral strategies with key partners in the region, including China, India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and ASEAN.

The project also explores the impact of COVID-19 and how Australian corporates can pursue new business and investment opportunities in Asia to generate long-term growth.

Non-Executive Director, Wesfarmers, and National Chair, CEDA, Diane Smith-Gander AO, says: “In seeking to chart a course for COVID-19 recovery, the findings and recommendations of this work will come at a most crucial time for the Australian economy.

Engagement with Asia has never been more important. Maintaining our current business ties will not be easy and needs great care and attention.  This research will prove an invaluable resource for those companies planning to keep doing or start doing business in Asia.”

The project’s findings and recommendations will be officially launched August 11.

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