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IAG urges business to be bold in Asia

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Australian business must act bravely in engaging with Asia, IAG MD and CEO Mike Wilkins says.

He told the American Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne on Friday the business and investment community is not seizing the opportunity that exists, and “we can’t afford not to be in the region”.

Mr Wilkins says the business community is too risk-averse “and this is what I think is at the heart of our inertia and lack of presence in the region. We aren’t bold. The Australian spirit, the entrepreneurial drive on which our country was founded, has evaporated only steps from our own front door.”

Mr Wilkins says businesses need to weave Asia into their strategies.

“Find out how Asia can affect your business in the next five to 10 years in terms of customers, suppliers, value propositions and competitors.”

Asian-born households here can open up new markets, talent and ways of working.

IAG’s strategy of joint ventures is based on mutual benefit and creating real economic value, he says.

Its Singapore hub puts it closer to the action, and it has posted senior managers there as proof of its commitment to the region.

At home, the company has a strategy to break the “bamboo ceiling” and increase its number of Asian executives.

It is running “unconscious bias” training and has Asian talent development and retention programs.

Mr Wilkins says it is a misconception that Asian partners will suck out Australian intellectual property then ditch the partnership.

“That has not been our experience, but you have to invest in that experience.”

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