This coming year looks to be a tough one for many markets around the globe. Although GDP growth should be respectable this year for the US market, the IMF has revised its figures downward for Japan and EU countries. Emerging market economies like China and Russia tell a similar story, albeit based on different local conditions: market overreach now has China posting its lowest growth rates in a quarter-century and economic sanctions have crippled the Russian economy. At the other end of the globe, Argentina battles with inflation rates at 40%. Business managers in markets that were meant to drive global demand and economic expansion must come to terms with the reality of „follower economy“ status. They must work with their teams to find smart ways to generate new demand in developed markets and succeed in a global economy this is still partially overheated and still needs to deleverage.
Guidance during times of instability
A positive contribution that business leaders in emerging markets can make to their business is to keep calm and avoid causing economic panic. In recent months the concerns of financial institutions in developed markets about their exposure in emerging markets has led to noticeable weakening of many global currencies. We see this in parts of Eastern Europe, in South America and elsewhere. Moreover, the Institute of International Finance reported this month that capital inflows into emerging markets will fall again this year for the second time in a row. This is apparently fuelled by investors‘ worries over when the US Fed will raise interest rates along with political conflicts in parts of the world and fluctuating oil prices. All this uncertainty puts a new set of pressures on GMs in emerging countries, who increasingly have to do business while working with a broader set of unknowns.
Essentially, the key skill set that GMs in emerging markets have to continue to develop and refine, more than any time in the past, is contingency planning. For
many of them 2015 will likely be the year of strategic hedging against exchange rate/currency losses, smart HR planning that includes doing more with smaller
teams and new technologies and planning stable operations in politically volatile business environments. Watch out for shifts in tax structures, change in interest
rate policies and further slowdown in BRIC country markets.
The digital factor
Technology is one factor that can help GMs smooth out some of the bumps in the ride for this year’s global business cycle. Increasingly, mobile devices and broader internet connectivity have helped businesses meet the challenges of doing business in less-developed markets. Similarly, access to cloud-based computing solutions also provides more flexibility than classic office environments and cost less than investment in classic HW infrastructure. Focusing on digital/mobile schemes can benefit businesses in emerging markets in areas ranging from cost reduction (office space rental, SW licensing, paper supplies, etc.) to new market access (mobile sales apps, text message marketing and e-shop/online business models).
Focus on supply chain management Commentary from business leaders working out of Africa suggests that supply chain planning will be even more critical to success in emerging markets during 2015. The global economy, emerging markets included, increasingly faces cycles of positive disruption. We see the technologies mentioned above rapidly changing models for how businesses engage with consumers, how GMs manage their employees and how management teams plan for growth and avoiding risk. Seasoned GMs also point out that companies can benefit greatly from year-end reviews. As many of us start to roll out our business projects for 2015, it is important to look back and map key events that can help the business plan for possible contingencies. In standard business activity this may include anything from fuel price cost mapping (to plan shipping models) to monitoring sales trends and spikes (so as to plan for better staffing and marketing campaigns). Also, in line with supply chain planning, it is also wise for businesses and their leaders to think forward and anticipate potential market shocks: both economic and/or regulatory in nature. For example, if you know the market in which you operate will see elections in the coming year, why not plan for all possible business regulatory scenarios your business might face. The best way to survive revamped tax structures, interest rate hikes, etc. is being prepared that they might become reality.
Succession planning in environments captive to global politics
As mentioned above, one thing this year will likely teach a lot of us, particularly business leaders in developing markets, is to plan for all possibilities. Most of us running businesses in these markets are well versed in planning for shifting regulatory environments for business, for inflationary shocks and shortages of goods.
However, the increasingly tense atmosphere in global geopolitics has made a great number of business leaders concerned about what to expect in 2015. Take the findings of PwC’s CEO survey for this year, recently presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos: Russian CEOs, for example, went from being the most
confident in their economic outlook for 2014 to being least positive this year. This demonstrates how the specifics of regional economic struggles and political conflicts can impact business. It also underscores why business leaders need to have clearly-defined succession strategies for cases when management teams might need to change quickly, i.e. for reasons of conflict, decisions to return to home offices, unexpected family problems, etc. If 2015 appears to be a year of the unknown, then businesses need to know: who steps up to lead in case a GM has to leave, what does the centraloffice/advisory board do in such situations, which managers move to fill vacancies for colleagues that have been promoted. These are just a few aspects of succession planning that companies need to look at in constantly evolving regional economies.
2015 looks to be a challenging year for businesses around the globe. However, if you plan well and accept the new reality of having to work with sluggish growth and market volatility, good strategic planning should get you through relatively unscathed.
The Governance Revolution: What Every Board Member Needs to Know, Now! SpenglerFox CEO, Jens Friedrich, invites Deborah Hicks Midanek to discuss her recently published book 'The Governance Revolution: What Every Board Member Needs to Know, Now!' Deborah is a veteran independent director, a pioneer in the corporate restructuring industry, and a serial entrepreneur. Widely respected for her turnaround skills, she has diagnosed and remedied problems for over 60 corporations and facilitated the growth of nearly 30 other ventures, including her own. Described by the late Fletcher Byrom, CEO of a Fortune 25 company, as a “pure thinker” – quickly gaining a deep understanding of complex problems and demonstrating an extraordinary ability to assimilate information and craft resilient solutions. More_on_Deborah_Hcks_Midnek.pdf Size: 161 KB Deborah_Hicks_Midanek_Slide Deck.pdf Size: 920 KB
A White Paper/Conversation with Industry Leaders What GlobalBusiness Leaders Have to Say about Successful Product Roll-outs and Meeting KPIs. The following paper includes insights from executives representing a handful of global companies. These individuals serve in roles such as general manager, business unit head, regional marketing leader and supply chain manager. They have experience working all over the world and represent markets such as Asia, the Middle East and Africa, North America and Western Europe. When speaking with them, the team at SpenglerFox sought to map the current environment for acquiring new leadership and managerial talent. Our discussions also focused on how this talent helps their organizations ensure the success of launching new products on the markets where these businesses operate and how these manager-leaders set KPIs to evaluate and measure the success of said launches. WhitePaper_TheEssentialsOfTalent.pdf Size: 1.07 MB
Rex was hired as a Project Director for a multinational factory in China. He held a similar role with another multinational before accepting this new position. The recruitment process was rigorous and exhaustive with many rounds of interviews with various department heads at regional and global levels. Rex was offered the position and accepted, reporting to his new boss (The Global Head of Supply Chain) who was based half way around the world. In his new role, Rex did not directly manage a team, however, he was responsible for managing several department heads that did not report to him. Rex was also responsible for updating all key stakeholders at headquarters on a project’s status. Sadly, Rex only lasted one year in this role, since he was not able to match the performance expectations of multiple stakeholders. This is a situation where Rex would have benefited from executive coaching. Amidst the daily demands of his job and the expectations of his stakeholders, Rex needed to better manage his focus while making strategic decisions at every moment to achieve goals and make progress. Like Rex, every level of management can benefit from coaching. But the individuals who benefit the most from executive coaching are those who are motivated to pursue growth in their personal and professional lives. In most cases, new hires at every level do not receive enough support for grasping an organization’s culture. Michael D. Watkins, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at IMD and author of “The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels,” explains that all new hires at every level must gain insights into the values, norms, and guiding assumptions of an organization. At the same time, they must navigate the very fine line between working within the existing culture framework and seeking to change it. Executive coaching is a natural next step in working with companies transform their businesses and aligns perfectly with my own life purpose and passion. I have been working as a retained executive search consultant for over 10 years, helping companies succeed by finding the right leaders as a search consultant, and then coaching these senior executives to reach their fullest potential. Transitions are always difficult for any organization. Whether through an internal promotion or an external hire, most senior executives receive only a basic orientation and onboarding. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Onboarding Isn’t Enough,” co-author Michael D. Watkins finds most companies are doing little to support the onboarding process. “Nearly all large companies are competent at the administrative basics of signing leaders up, but that level of onboarding does little to prevent the problems that can arise when working with new colleagues and grappling with unfamiliar cultural norms and expectations,” Watkins says. In my discussions with HR decision makers and business leaders about their biggest challenges, I have learned that many companies are trying to transform their organizations in a marketplace where disruption is constant. In this VUCA environment, some of their strongest business leaders were not performing as successfully as they once had and were having difficulty adapting to change, new market landscapes and new processes. These are very common themes and challenges that I consistently hear from companies in my travels. I realized that as an executive search consultant, my value in impacting a company positively stopped at the recruitment and hiring process. I knew that I wanted to continue helping clients and executives succeed beyond the appointment of a senior leader, and this is why I began executive coaching. Technology advances in the last several years have created a much faster and more complex world. According to the renowned mindfulness expert Rasmus Hougaard, our attention in the workplace is under siege. We are constantly under pressure, always on, overloaded with information and trying to work in distracting environments. Executives today face many more challenges in adapting to change and successfully keeping pace with these complex work environments, compared to ten years ago. Authors Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck in their book, “The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business”, advocate that understanding and managing attention is now the single most important determinant of business success. Coaching positively impacts a company’s bottom line by helping executives remain present, be focused and make optimal moment-by-moment decisions that deliver optimal results. As I look back at my work as a search consultant, my most fulfilling moments were helping executives achieve their goals. Many senior executives in Asia, Europe and the US have reached out to me to explore job opportunities, but also seek career guidance. With every inquiry, I always tried to take the time to share my thoughts and advice. In doing so, I felt I was giving back to those who mentored me throughout my own corporate career. Many search firms like SpenglerFox offer executive coaching and HR consultancy services in addition to traditional retained executive search. To receive further information about the executive coaching services, please contact Mary Kramer at firstname.lastname@example.org. About the Author: Victor Filamor Victor Filamor was SpenglerFox’s Country Manager Hong Kong and Asia Consumer Practice Leader in 2007/8. He is currently a Partner and Certified Executive Coach with a retained executive search & leadership advisory firm in Hong Kong and Singapore specializing in the Consumer & Retail and Industrial sectors. Prior to his executive search career of over a decade, he had 25 years of P&L management, as well as marketing, sales and operations management experience with Consumer and Industrial Fortune 500 companies and Asian multinationals. He has lived in four countries across Asia Pacific.