Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Changing Cityscapes of Mumbai and Shanghai


I have been working in China and India this month. As I have sat in some never-ending traffic jams, in both Shanghai and Mumbai, I got to thinking about how similar and different these two nations are; and also how much they have changed since my first visits.  My first trip to China was in 1996, and to India, as a child visiting my grandparents.

On the surface, the first and most obvious similarities that strike me are their population size, the constant throng of humanity, the general business of life occurring on the streets in these big cities with people everywhere you cast the eye.  Both of these populations are driven to succeed, there is an obvious hunger and aspiration for a higher standard of living and material goods such as cars, houses, mobile phones, travel and educational opportunities for their children.  The impact of these changes has been greater urban populations that inadvertently place excessive pressure on the infrastructures to support them; hence traffic congestion, a consequence of greater car ownership.

There is a significant increase in the numbers of shopping centres, high-rise buildings and an overall affluence of these citizens; while simultaneously a growing disparity between the rich and poor.  Population growth and the rise of the middle class in these big cities has had a substantial impact on the urban environment from increased food choices, more leisure activity choices and a greater sense of self confidence.

I have been reflecting on what will these cities look like in the future? Will they look more like the Western cities or will they preserve their own identities? How much change will there be in the way people live their lives….and will it always be for the better?

Talent Management and Cultural Intelligence

An interesting article that I came across last week was in the Harvard Business Review Blog – Talent Management: Boards Give Their Companies an “F”, by Boris Groysberg and Deborah Bell.

The article discusses the findings of a recent global survey that was conducted with over 1,000 board members from a variety of industries to see what is top of mind for them. The outcome was that talent management is the biggest concern and is perceived as the greatest challenge for these board members.  These members recognized that for the longevity and survival of their companies’ talent was at the forefront.

It takes a courageous leader to invest in human capital in these troubled times and it commands a long-term view and investment that can appear at best risky. When times get tough it seems as though diversity and people initiatives fall off the agenda, I wonder if the current talent concerns are a consequence of just that.

This article threw up some thoughts for me surrounding the cultural aspects of talent management:

My concern is that organizations and their boards recognize that talent management tends to be culture specific. By this I mean, what is considered as positive talent development in one region may not be seen through the same lenses in another, for example rewarding individuals as opposed to rewarding the team. Further, how talent is developed and nurtured requires different approaches across cultures. Talent management requires leaders/managers who have the mindfulness, know how and skill set to develop individuals successfully across cultures.  Cultural intelligence is an integral part of this.

When leaders are not ‘on the ground’ and their teams are located in different parts of the globe, how do they ensure that potential talent is being flagged?

Are talent management strategies culturally inclusive?  For example, identifying potential talent in the U.S or the U.K. will require a different set of lenses as opposed to identifying talent in the Asian region where speaking up and challenging may not be their strong suit.

­­­On a positive note, it is encouraging that board members are recognizing the importance of managing talent and acknowledging that their organisations are not optimising their human capital and that they need to make changes to their current practices.

If you would like to read Talent Management: Boards Give Their Companies an ‘F” go to: