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Tomorrow’s leaders must be nimble and quick to adapt

THE PANELLISTS: (From left) Davy Lau, global partner at Egon Zehnder international, Mr Rath of Talent Plus, MadamYen of Tan Tao Group, Mr Gupta of DBS, and Mr Manwani of Unilever at the GES forum yesterday.

Shift to East, fast connectivity and the environment seen as the key issues

MANAGING the shift in gravity from West to East, the fast-paced interconnectedness of the IT age and environmental issues.

Those are the three key issues the business chief of the next generation will face said Harish Manwani, president of Unilever’s Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe operations, at the Global Entrepolis @ Singapore forum yesterday.

Joining him on the closing panel discussion were DBS Group EEO Piyush Gupta; the chairman of talent as well as the chairwoman and CEO of Vietnamese investment firm Tan Tao Group, Dang Thi Hoang Yen.

The new economic reality of to day and tomorrow has been the shift in focus of doing business in the West to the East. This throws up opportunities on the one hand, but “paradoxes” on the oder, said Mr Manwani.

“Life is not going to be liner, it will be about the rich and the poor, about the ups and the downs. It will be up to the ability of the leaders of tomorrow to make critical decisions to manage this”

Mr Gupta also said that as the pace of change quickens much more rapidly with the fast connectivity of the Internet age, “the most crucial thing for leader tomorrow therefore is the capacity to adapt”.

“We would need adaptive leadership to figure out and prepare contingencies in the corporation and respond and more importantly, adapt all the time,” he said.

Models. This talent, says Mr Rath can be groomed and cultivated to a certain extent, but it is usually something that is just found. “ Training refines talent, but it cannot create”, he said.

To attract talent, companies need to have an inspiring vision. “Talent is attracted to talent .” said Mr Rath, “But to become the employer of choice, you need to have a vision, have someone to articulate what that is, and live it out.”

Indeed, a vision and values are lynchpins of what a good and successful business is. Quoting Unilevers business mantra – “Doing well by doing good” – Mr Manwani highlighted that conducting responsible business is just as important as delivering profits and attracting the right people.

Madam Yen, when asked how she made her company a responsible yet profitable one, said that its due to her company’s values – respecting environment as they developed to convince her employees to stay.

“I started out with zero capital. But I’ve always developed, did business, in line with my own value. In the first three months of business, I had no money to give my employees, But, I think people saw and agreed with how I did things because they choice to stay with us.”

By Lynn Kan