Man About Asia Ep5 : The Talent Game

It is fair to say finding, and managing, the right kind of talent in Asia is almost without exception is the biggest challenge most marketers will face in the region.

In Episode 5 of the #manaboutasia series we explain why this historically has been such a problem and we share learnings as to how businesses are solving the problem today.

In my view the three key observations are: -

  • Finding and managing talent is likely to be your first, second and third priority!
  • The creative industries as a profession are relatively new to the region so there is no quick fix, it will take a generation.
  • Think people loyality, as well as company loyality.

The full episode can be viewed here.

In conjunction with this episode The Drum published the following article

Finding and keeping talent in Asia : The Challenge Explained

Marketing as a profession is relatively new in Asia, and the talent pool can be both limited and idiosyncratic. In the fifth episode of The Drum’s series Man About Asia, Wayne Arnold explains why it is remarkably difficult for western companies to find and keep talented staff in the region.

“Take China as case in point, until the opening up of controlled capitalism where you’ve got brands like Louis Vuitton or Prada coming down the high street, there was no need for mass consumer choice so no need for marketers. As a result the profession did not exist,” says Arnold, who also claims the profession is typically not seen as a desirable one for young Asians, who are likely to favour banking, accounting, law or medicine.

Arnold goes on to explain that most Asian education systems do not foster what he calls ‘diagonal thinkers’, “people who feel as comfortable looking at a spreadsheet as they are judging a creative idea”.

“The problem here, like many markets, is that the education system is almost quite victorian, based on principles of learn, recite and repeat, and that produces linear thinkers not diagonal thinkers,” adds Arnold, who then suggests tried and tested recruitment solutions.

The last section of the episode tackles the problem of retention, and the unique challenges that marketers face.

“It’s not uncommon for example in China, for companies to complain of an 80 per cent, churn-rate of their talent,” says Arnold, who then touches on the issue of what he terms ‘people loyalty’ over ‘brand loyalty’, a symptom of which being when whole creative teams leave an agency when the creative director moves on.


HOST : Wayne Arnold Global CEO MullenLowe Profero, Chairman of Marketing Society Southeast Asia.
In partnership with MullenLowe Profero
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