Leading sustainable growth in Asia Pacific

By Ricky Foo

The understanding about Asia Pacific (APAC) is often seen from the European historical, cultural, economical and geographical perspective. Ricky Foo, Group Director from Mercuri Urval Singapore, provides us an updated perspective of how APAC is developing and the business opportunities that are available for European companies. He also shared insights on leadership and talent topics, and how companies can achieve sustainable growth in the region.

Highlights from the seminars

A total of four seminars were carried out in Düsseldorf, Zurich, Vienna and London from September 26th to October 2nd. The seminars were well received by the audience as Ricky provided fresh perspective regarding the APAC region. A few key highlights include:

  • Among the largest 5,000 firms in the world, Chinese companies have gained a lion share (738 vs. 57 firms) over a 20 years span (from 1995-97 to 2015-17). In contrast, Japanese firms have declined from 1,215 to 644 firms in the same period. The Southeast Asian firms have also gained a larger share, building their own home-grown giants (e.g. CP All is a Thai food retail company with a revenue of US$15.7 billion)
  • Doing businesses APAC is about thinking in cities rather than countries. Businesses need to create strategies for specific major cities as their size (population and GDP) are larger than many European countries. E.g. Shanghai's population is 26 million (that is equivalent to Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark combined) and GDP nominal is US$494 billion.
  • There are 2.2 billion digital users in APAC and 1/3 of the world unicorns (119 tech start-ups with a value of >US$1 billion) are in the region. Tech firms like Didi Chuxing (China), Grab (Singapore), Gojek (Indonesia) and Ola (India) who started as a 'taxi / transport-hailing' company are developing into tech giants who are leading the growth in digital payments, food delivery, entertainment and self-driving car.
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Implications to businesses

Given the fast pace development, companies will need to adjust their realities and approaches in the region. Some of the topics that Ricky shared insights about include:

  • Adjust salaries to match the region's development and expectations from talents. Do not be surprised if a Country Manager in China or Thailand demands a higher salary than many European countries.
  • Be ambitious in setting goals. If the market is growing at 30% and the European HQ is only setting a 10% growth, it is seen as a lack of ambition as the company is losing market share everyday!
  • Make a long-term strategic plan, execute for the short-term and be agile. Plans can be obsolete after 6 months as the region can be volatile and changes can happen very quickly. E.g., no one could predict the situation in Hong Kong.

There will be more articles published on the APAC region in the subsequent months. Stay connected with Mercuri Urval to get the updates.


If you are interested to learn more about how Mercuri Urval supports international companies to grow in the Asia Pacific region, you are welcome to contact our regional lead consultants in the region: