APAC women lead­ers eye on busi­ness ex­pan­sions

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WU YIYAO in Shang­hai

wuyiyao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

As­pir­ing fe­male en­trepreneurs in China are aim­ing to grow their busi­nesses through di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and over­seas ex­pan­sion by lever­ag­ing re­sources from ex­ter­nal fund­ings and ad­vi­sory net­works, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by ser­vices firm Ernst & Young (EY).

An over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of 90 per­cent of the 143 re­spon­dents said that they plan to scale their busi­ness, with 60 per­cent plan­ning to grow in­ter­na­tion­ally and 16 per­cent work­ing to­ward an IPO. Chi­nese re­spon­dents also in­di­cated that they are open to ex­ter­nal fi­nanc­ing op­tions and are will­ing to build a key ad­vi­sory net­work.

Ex­perts said these strong, growth-driven am­bi­tions mean that fe­male lead­ers will help grow many op­por­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sional ser­vices providers, such as con­sul­tancy, tax, bank­ing and le­gal.

The re­sults of the sur­vey, which polled 143 fe­male en­trepreneurs in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, in­clud­ing 53 from China, demon­strate that fe­male en­trepreneurs have bro­ken many stereo­types as they be­come in­creas­ingly rep­re­sented in a wide range of sec­tors where lead­er­ship roles were con­ven­tion­ally dom­i­nated by men.

Ac­cord­ing to EY’s re­search find­ings, al­most 58 per­cent of those sur­veyed have ex­plored ex­ter­nal fi­nanc­ing op­tions. How­ever, 73 per­cent ad­mit­ted they found the process “in­tim­i­dat­ing.” About 53 per­cent of re­spon­dents lack a clear exit strat­egy, some­thing most in­vestors want to un­der­stand be­fore pro­vid­ing fi­nanc­ing, while more than a quar­ter have yet to re­place them­selves in op­er­a­tional roles, spend­ing 40 per­cent of their time work­ing in, rather than on, the busi­ness.

“While many fe­male lead­ers as­pire to grow, I also no­tice that some of them are in­tim­i­dated by ex­ter­nal fi­nanc­ing op­tions which they be­lieve will make them lose con­trol over their en­ti­ties. How­ever, once a trust­wor­thy fi­nanc­ing source or part­ner is found, it may give an en­ter­prise leader a brand new per­spec­tive on en­ter­prise gov­er­nance and help the en­ter­prise to grow more sus­tainedly and suc­cess­fully,” said Jerry Zhang, ex­ec­u­tive vice chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Stan­dard Char­tered Bank (China) Lim­ited.

Uschi Schreiber, global vice chair for mar­kets and chair of global ac­counts com­mit­ted at EY, said that ex­ter­nal aids, in­clud­ing new tech­nolo­gies such as au­to­ma­tion, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, internet con­nec­tiv­ity and vir­tual re­al­ity, will bring uncer­tain­ties and am­bi­gu­i­ties to all busi­ness sec­tors and fe­male lead­ers will hence need to break through bar­ri­ers to learn dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives through the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of their ad­vi­sory net­works.

“It is ad­vis­able that fe­male lead­ers al­lo­cate more time re­sources to work ‘on’ the busi­ness in­stead of ‘in’ the busi­ness — that is to say, they need to think and work more strate­gi­cally and not spend too many re­sources on de­tails,” said Schreiber.

Build­ing a key ad­vi­sory net­work has also been shown to yield new op­por­tu­ni­ties and ways of think­ing. About 35 per­cent of re­spon­dents have a net­work of trusted ad­vi­sors, while the ma­jor­ity (67 per­cent) said that es­tab­lish­ing one is a pri­or­ity. For those seek­ing to ex­pand glob­ally, build­ing a pub­lic pro­file has been shown to ac­cel­er­ate growth.

Jan Becker, CEO of Becker He­li­copters Pi­lot Academy, said hav­ing a multi-per­spec­tive ad­vi­sory helped grow her en­ter­prise from a small en­tity in an old shed on the Sun­shine Coast to the largest he­li­copter flight academy in the south­ern hemi­sphere.

“In a flight academy, it takes more than one in­struc­tor to teach stu­dents how to fly a he­li­copter. In busi­ness, it takes more than one per­spec­tive to grow the com­pany. Now we have an ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee with mem­bers com­ing from all around the world and they of­fer opin­ions that truly help the man­age­ment in mar­ket­ing, fi­nanc­ing and le­gal af­fairs,” said Becker.

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