Scarce—and in some cases, unprepared—management talent hampers some multinational companies’ growth ambitions in Asia. Therefore, it is vital for companies to develop a pipeline of prospective leaders. Failing to plan in advance could leave critical positions temporarily unfilled, something that causes uncertainty and could damage the company as a whole. As a result, simply turning to the pre-existing talent pool to plug leadership gaps is not a sound strategy. Worryingly, there are signs that the talent pipelines of some multinational companies in Asia are inadequate for the challenges ahead.
“Having a sufficiently deep bench is my biggest concern,” says Aidan O’Meara, president of the Asia Pacific region of VF Corporation. VF Corporation is one of the world’s biggest consumer brands—a $12 billion conglomerate that owns household names such as Vans, Nautica, The North Face, Lee, and Wrangler.
Atul Khosla, vice president of human resources for the Asia Pacific region at Mondelēz, a global snack food conglomerate, agrees with O’Meara. Khosla argues that a critical talent shortage is imminent. “If organizations do not invest in developing their teams now, there is a big risk of a leadership crisis within two years,” he says.