ASTD-STADA Asia Pacific Conference (Day 3 of 3)

Qualcomm's Tamer Elkeles and Nam Cho speaking on Designing Learning in the New Workplace

Today is the final day of the inaugural ASTD/STADA Asia Pacific Conference.  I will focus on the topic of Asian Leadership

Asia Leadership Research

The Human Capital Leadership Institute was set up by the Ministry of Manpower, the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Singapore Management University is focused on research on global leaders with a strong understanding of leading in Asia.  In this talk, Kwan Chee Wei shared the following:

  • From an Asia context, the average age of China CEO is 10 years younger than their US counterpart.  What are the implications on leadership?
  • Asian companies are operating globally but do they have a global mindset?  The bosses often have expectations of their staff to do as instructed.  How does this impact empowerment as they expand beyond the Asia borders?
  • For example, in HCLI’s research collaboration with a Chinese and Indonesia university on management, they found that the Chinese expect a more authoritarian style manager while the Indonesian employee expect a paternalistic approach to management.  This has implications on how companies expand and manage intra-Asia teams.
  • HCLI suggests that successful Asian leadership requires:
    • Shift from a performance to learning perspective
    • Create ecosystem that supports development and allow for failure
    • Build leaders who are able coach employees

Change Management at a Chinese Company

Christine Shih, Director of Learning & Development at Li-Ning Sports spoke on organization change and transition management at this Chinese company.  Li-Ning started initially as a family-owned company and later hired professional managers to run the company.  She shared on how Li-Ning restructured their Sales organization.

  • The sales leadership team was originally centralized at the HQ office.  They found that they were not as responsive to the market development situations and need to shift to a regional sales model.
  • The organization change and transition framework she utilized was same model those as found in Western MNCs.
    • The obvious question is whether there was a “Chinese” approach to change and transition management.
    • According to Shih, communication style and organization culture was the biggest determinant to implementing change.  Otherwise, in her experience, the typical change framework is applicable.
  • Developing expat leaders to grow the biz outside of China was another important area for Li-Ning.  They take a long-term approach to leadership development.
    • They initially sent a HiPo out on short-term assignments to the US for an project and later moved him to another country.  After successful completion of assignments, he was assigned as country head.
  • Li-Ning also hires foreigners into their organization in China.  The most successful ones are those who are open-minded and able to communicate, even if it is through body language.

In the opening day’s concurrent session, Stephen Krempl’s talked about Asian leaders working in Western MNCs need to adapt to the employers’ business culture.

All the concurrent session speakers agree that there are values differences between local and western managers.  They also agree that successful leaders (Asian or not) have the following two qualities:

  1. Communication with impact
  2. Leadership across geographic boundaries

Final Super Session

The last super session of the day, Qualcomm’s Chief Learning Officer, Tamar Elkeles and APAC Senior Manager, Nam Cho talked about Designing Learning in the New Workplace.

Elkeles stressed that in today’s environment employees are creating their own learning tools by going out to social media and internet search sites.  They are creating their own learning network through Facebook or LinkedIn.  Learning professionals can’t control where employees learn or who they ask.

Learning professionals can however, create the learning culture and a safe environment where employees learn and experiment where failure is part of the learning process.

Qualcomm uses a “braided” learning approach where a combination of classroom, online/social and in-person coaching with peers and managers are tightly woven together to reinforce learning outcome.


ASTD and STADA announced that the ASAP Conference will be
returning to Singapore in 2012 (Q4)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *