Since 2004, when I returned Down-under after living in Asia and Europe, I have witnessed how our distance from leading nations of the world and our mono-lingual Anglo-Saxon heritage limit us from growing across Asia and tapping into the benefits that more diverse cultures enjoy.
Having lived in Singapore and the UK, which are both situated within an hour or two of many thriving trading partners and societies that impact on their culture daily, I recognised the isolation and independence of Australia's situation.
Purpose of this blog
This website, Stepping Up Australia, has been built to accompany the book Stepping Up. The aim of this blog is to support readers to explore the endless opportunities that Asia provides, to learn from guest bloggers and others who are operating in Asia and to make new connections. I believe we can use this virtual world to help close the gap in our understanding about doing business between Australia and Asian nations.
Everyone you talk to who has worked in Asia, or who currently lives and works in one of its fast-growing nations, is quick to tell you about the potential it offers, the generosity of the people who help you to get started and how stimulating the cultures are because they are so different from our own. They share engaging stories about their experiences and they freely dish out tips, contacts and ideas to get you started.
Australians who go to Asia to do business not only know how unfamiliar it can feel at the start of the journey - but they also know how immensely satisfying it can be when you identify your first business partner and get a trade relationship underway.
In this blog I will bring you some of these stories for both large multinational organisations and small privately owned businesses. We can learn from leaders and owners of large and small organisations about the nuances of doing business with Asian nations and how to prepare for and respond to the cross-cultural challenges that working across borders entails.
The other three blogs on Stepping Up Australia
There is no doubt in my mind, having lived in several other cultures, that we can improve our Asia-readiness by improving diversity in Australia's workplaces and communities.
Australia is extremely multicultural and Stepping Up highlights the numbers: about a quarter of Australians were born overseas and nearly another quarter have one parent who was born overseas. The fastest-growing immigrant group is Chinese and it will overtake arrivals from the UK and NZ very soon. The number of tourists arriving in Australia is expected to increase from 6 million to 25 million in the next 10 years and over half of these people are expected to come from China. Our country becomes more multicultural by the day and involvement with Asia is happening while we sleep. We need to prepare for this change by being more Asian-ready.
The other blogs are designed to support the cultural shifts we need in our society and to help build cultural diversity and gender equality. These developments will massively contribute to our Asia-readiness as we allow Asian and other immigrant populations to play a bigger role in Australian business and society.
Despite this huge immigrant population, the senior ranks of most Australian businesses, communities and government organisations are biased towards people from an Anglo-Saxon background and they are missing the diversity that we need if we are to operate successfully across Asia.
Check out the other blogs from time to time too. You might just discover that there are more things you can do in Australia to help you reach into new markets abroad.
Please share your ideas and issues with me at any time.
If you have a story to tell or would like to be a guest blogger please contact me directly.
Thanks for stopping by.
Author: Pamela Young