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Seeking Transformational Leaders Fit for the Age of Disruption

In the context of the current uncertain global economic climate, the Asia Pacific region continues to represent critical growth opportunities for both established and emerging technology firms. From major corporates to newly emerging, high growth players, there continues to be great demand for talent as technological innovation opens up, creating new markets, geographies and business models, and challenges traditional business norms.

Richard Goddard, Head of the Technology Practice APAC at Harvey Nash Executive Search, explores the steps companies can take to identify, harness and retain transformational tech leaders.

Innovation, Disruption, Transformation: The New Norms in Asia

Technological innovation is omnipresent and this has stimulated tremendous growth opportunities in the region. Innovation has flowed from West to East and across the entire Asia Pacific region; now we are seeing tremendous innovation incubating locally and in some cases scaling regionally and globally. Government bodies and sovereign wealth funds across Asia recognise both the business and social opportunities that technology represents and are actively stimulating ecosystems that enable innovation to thrive.

Venture capital and entrepreneurs are increasingly being drawn into the region, providing a catalyst for business confidence and growth. The net result is a wealth of opportunity for senior executives, both as leaders as well as individual contributors.

Skills Shortages

With growth across such a vast and diverse region as Asia, comes fierce demand for the best talent. There is an undeniable shortage of innovative, disruptive, transformative leadership across the world, let alone in Asia. This trend is evident within established markets as well as, more acutely, in emerging markets.

As a result, businesses in Asia are faced with a simple choice:

1)Invest time and resources in the employer brand and talent engagement strategies to attract the best leaders in the market


2)Invest time and resources in incubating 'home-grown' talent with the required skillsets


3)Opt for a combination of the above to shore up the talent pipeline.
There is no easy answer, but we work with many companies that are having great success by adopting a combination of the above, cultivating a culture of innovation that serves to attract and retain the best talent.

Seeking Transformational Leadership

With innovation, disruption and transformation as the new norms in Asia, we are increasingly asked to find transformational leaders whom can embrace the complexities of technology, evangelise to the target audience and translate this into executable go-to-market strategies across diverse cultural, social, economic and political landscapes.

From the global leadership team to regional leadership to local leadership, organisations have to align in transforming the way they operate internally and externally, embracing the constancy of change.

Finding the right talent in the current climate, requires relentless "thinking outside the box", engaging with pools of executives from both traditional competitors as well as those from less obvious, yet relevant parts of the ecosystem. The introduction of "wild card" candidates into our search processes has become the norm as traditional business models are challenged. These searches are complex and usually global in nature, engaging increasingly with a new generation of globally dispersed leaders, who are motivated and driven by shaping new business opportunities in this age of disruption.

Steps companies can take to identify, harness and retain transformational leaders

  • Focus on employee engagement
    Cultivate a culture of disruption and transformation to ensure you attract the right talent to the business and enable your leaders to thrive and innovate. Employee engagement programmes should be a key component of your talent retention strategy.
  • Map talent both internally and externally
    Identify high potentials both within the organisation currently, and those externally you want to engage in the future. Mapping the marketplace externally serves as an effective talent benchmarking process and can be used to engage with the right talent to transform the business.
  • Mentoring programmes
    Assign high potentials to capable senior mentors within the organisation. Don't leave their development to chance - shape it for them.
  • Career development plans and assessment
    The next generation of leaders need to be continually stretched by increasing their responsibilities over time. Ensure they are working towards an agreed goal and hold regular check in meetings to confirm they are continually heading in the right direction, both for the growth of the organisation and their own professional development.

Technology is transforming our lives; businesses and business leaders need to transform accordingly.

For more in-depth advice on how to identify, harness and retain transformational tech leaders, please contact Richard Goddard