Groundbreaking organisation seeks to link New Zealand business with Asia

EY is proud to support New Zealand Asian Leaders

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  • New Zealand Asian Leaders launches on 4 November, founded by Mai Chen, of Chen Palmer, sponsored by EY
  • EY finds that only 17% of firms have Asians as Directors or senior executives, 13% have Asians in their executive teams, and only 5% have Asians on their boards.

Winning in Asian markets requires more effort to recruit talented Asians who straddle both cultures, EY says, following a review of Asians in top positions. At the same time, talented Asian business people need to step up to make themselves available to New Zealand businesses looking to succeed in offshore markets.

EY has done an online review of New Zealand’s top 100 companies, finding only five companies have directors of Asian descent.  Only 13 companies appear to have people of Asian descent in their management teams.  Results were better for the NZX 50, where 24% of board and executive positions appear to be held by Asian people.

EY China Business Group Leader Florence Wong says: “As the door opens wider for New Zealand via the TPP trade negotiations, what are our companies doing to prepare, to capitalise on new opportunities? 

Businesses must front up to our trading partners with a visible commitment to understanding cultures they are dealing with, in the place business gets done - the boardroom.” 

Many companies employ local staff in their Asian markets to run their operations but the next step is to recruit talent in New Zealand.  “We could do a lot better tapping into our knowledge of different cultures, for long-term planning and coordination of Asian operations” says Florence.

Mai Chen, of law firm Chen Palmer, says organisations wanting to succeed in Asia must commit to, and understand, Asia. New Zealand companies often under-estimate the culture and language hurdles.  New Zealand Asian Leaders' vision is to maximise New Zealand’s successful business interface with Asia.

In the year ended December 2012, China accounted for 15%, or NZD6.9 billion of our total exports, higher than the United States on 9.2% (Statistics New Zealand).  China presents many opportunities particularly in the areas of green technology and productivity enhancement.

The New Zealand Asia Leaders group launches at EY with a function on 4 November.

Note:The EY review  was conducted using on-line and publicly available information; no independent checks were carried out  on the backgrounds of individuals. Individuals not based in New Zealand were excluded from our review as the intention was to show how companies are using Asian resources within New Zealand. The top 100 companies are those reproduced in Management Magazine Top 200.