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Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific disrupted: Winning capabilities for uncertain times

6/27/2017 Linda Ye Zhang
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Business disruption and change are ratcheting up the competitive pressure on companies throughout the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. A Heidrick & Struggles survey of 558 senior executives from across the region highlights the factors that senior executives believe are most responsible for the uncertain business landscape and provides a snapshot of how companies are responding.

Among the findings:

  • Fully 80% of respondents in APAC believe their company faces more disruptive pressure today than they did 18 months ago—and 83% expect this pressure to increase in the coming year and a half.
  • Yet only 44% of respondents said that their company is well prepared to face marketplace disruptions, suggesting heightened concern in the region about the nature and availability of the talent and organizational capabilities necessary to adapt and respond.

Our survey explored respondents’ assessments on key areas of competitive differentiation—specifically, the ability of companies to mobilize, execute, and transform with agility. Our previous research has shown these factors to be important, as they encourage (or inhibit) a company’s ability to accelerate performance—that is, to reduce time to value by building and changing momentum faster than rivals. In this survey, we found that:

  • Mobilizing (the ability to inspire aligned action based on a compelling ambition and purpose and a simple set of strategic priorities) appears to be a strength throughout the region.
  • Execution, by contrast, appears to be a relative weakness, as companies struggle with overcomplicated organizational structures and the ability to attract talent, among other factors.
  • Transformational thinking is viewed broadly as a strength, but organizational barriers and silo behavior may be holding companies back.
  • Agility (the ability to spot opportunities and threats, and recover quickly from setbacks) presents a mixed picture. Companies view themselves as largely flexible and responsive, yet less likely to spend enough time preparing for the future and escaping “firefighting” mode.

A closer look at the findings sheds light on the changing nature of competition and talent in the Asia Pacific region, as well as on the capabilities that companies there have—and need—in order to thrive in the years ahead.

To read the full report, flip through the interactive version above or click the download button for the PDF.

About the authors

George Huang ( is partner-in-charge of Heidrick & Struggles in China; he is based in the Beijing office.

Steve Mullinjer ( is the regional leader of Heidrick & Struggles in Asia Pacific and the Middle East; he is based in the Hong Kong office.

Stephen Wyatt ( is a partner in the Singapore office and a member of the Leadership Consulting Practice.

Linda Zhang ( is partner-in-charge of the Shanghai office and leads the Human Resources Officers Practice in China.

The authors would like to thank Ruben Hillar, Becky Hogan, and Ryan Pastrovich for their help with the research and data analysis for this report.

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Linda Ye Zhang Partner-In-Charge - Shanghai +86 21 61361988