From our community: Adobe’s SEA MD on creative leadership, the warung race in Indonesia and more…

Contributor posts

I have spent nearly half my career in SEA and have always been vocal about its economic potential. And the multitude of unicorn and decacorns in the region only second my view.

As do, our contributors this week, who are discussing the potential of warungs in Indonesia and why Asia is a lucrative ground for fresh investment ever more so now.

Plus, wrapping up the women’s day theme this month is a Vertex VC and her tips on how we can bridge the gender inequality. Check out the top contributor posts from last week and stay up-to-date with the tech startup world trends.

We are open to sharing your views and perspectives with our readers. All you need to do is take a deep breath, think of what you want to share with the world badly, click on submit a post and write away!

Why 2021 is the year to embrace creative leadership by Simon Dale, managing director, Adobe Southeast Asia

“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses that had embraced change and had the agility to launch new business models were better able to thrive in the new operating environment.

Those were the businesses whose leaders were competent in change management and were able to effectively guide their teams through a period of intense transformation.

As businesses increasingly embrace hybrid work environments, they need to find new ways to support a culture that develops employee creativity. Aim to recreate or simulate the aspects of the company culture that require in-person engagement, such as water cooler conversations and informal spaces for bonding, as these are familiar environments for collaboration that spark creativity.”

How this SEA VC is rising to the challenge of gender inequality by Carmen Yuen, VC at Vertex Ventures

“There is no question that gender disparity is a real issue: the trailing numbers in wage amounts and leadership representation compared to men are clear for all to see. We recognise now that women are just as capable as men, especially in the workforce, and broadly agree that maintaining gender diversity is not just a sensible thing to do but it also makes a lot of business sense.

Very often, businesses see securing the best talent as one of their key priorities and may even relate it to their profitability. On paper, men are the more reliable hires because they don’t need months of maternity leave.”

Land of opportunities

War of warungs: Decoding the race to win the warung game in Indonesia by Shauraya Bhutani, tech investment banker SEA/ANZ

“Indonesia is home to a US$380 billion retail market which accounted for about 35 per cent of total GDP in 2019.

Close to 80 per cent of the US$380 billion retail industry is dominated by the unorganised sector characterised by local “mom-and-pop” stores which come in various shapes and sizes (for simplicity, we will use a catch-all phrase “warung”).

There are a number of tech startups including unicorns (e.g. gojek), soonicorns (e.g. Warung Pintar) or upstarts (e.g. Ula) which are vying for a piece of this US$300 billion+ industry.”

What do I need to know as a first-time impact investor? by Greg Blackwood, impact investor

“As the demand for sustainable investing peaks, funds are now taking a more holistic view of investments by taking environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into consideration. ESG funds are guided by these factors but not necessarily driven by impact.

Impact investing, on the other hand, involves specifically investing in solutions- solving global challenges while keeping in mind the risks and returns. If you are a first- time impact investor, you may want to understand the difference between the two and make your investment decision.”

The lure of the orient: How retail investors are being drawn to Asian investment markets by Oleg Spilka, seasoned investor and founder

“2021 may become a significant year for the Asian investment market as foreign hedge funds and individual investors alike appear to be tapping into the early pandemic recovery across the east whilst stepping away from overvalued US assets.

Although this trend appears to be largely driven by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are indications that the shift towards Asia has been occurring at a somewhat slower pace long before the arrival of the virus.

This significant investment shift could help to foster growth in Asia’s relatively small hedge fund industry that’s centred heavily in Hong Kong and Singapore. Investors worldwide are looking for ways to profit from the region’s economic growth, and Asia hedge funds have outperformed their global counterparts.”

3 trends that will reshape the retail and logistics industries in Singapore this 2021 by Lee Chee Meng, COO, Pickupp

“The retail industry is affected the most by the effects of the pandemic. Businesses that have identified key industry and economic trends early benefited greatly, enabling them to adapt their services and operations to meet the changing demands.

There will be opportunities for growth in 2021 as we learn to adjust to the post-COVID-19 world and form business decisions around the new trends and parameters.

New trends have emerged at the back of these customer behaviour shifts and it is vital for SMEs to be on a constant lookout to capture opportunities as they weather the COVID-19 crisis. For starters, here are some that we’ve identified across the retail and logistics industries and expect to continue as the economy recovers.”

Nurturing talent

How this B-school aims to reinvent its learning experience in a year of disruption by Raphael Degrave, Head of Digital Programme & Architecture, INSEAD

“As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD strives to deliver exemplary experiences for its students, staff and faculty alike. In the face of the pandemic, which closed off most of our global campuses like Singapore, we faced a new challenge: a seamless transition to digital learning experiences.

What’s more, the pandemic motivated many to future-proof their skills and secure their position amidst a period of uncertainty. Interest in MBAs grew significantly at the peak of the pandemic, INSEAD saw applications for its MBA programme increase by 58 per cent compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.

In the face of this new challenge we found an opportunity to continue delivering the standard of experience our students and staff expect, underpinned by strategic digitalisation initiatives we’ve implemented to modernise our systems around student scheduling and enrolments.”

Human capital is the biggest enabler of digital transformation. Here’s how to enhance it by Joanne Guo, Assistant CEO at the Singapore Business Federation (SBF)

“Many businesses recognise the importance of digitalisation to remain competitive and future-ready, particularly with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced many businesses to accelerate their adoption of digital solutions and technologies. Nevertheless, the successful implementation of I4.0 is not easy.

Companies that have transformed successfully under I4.0 attest to the importance of placing people at the heart of their transformation efforts. Change management to get employee buy-in and involvement is crucial to keep the workforce motivated and engaged in embracing new ways of working.”

How early-stage deep-tech startups can attract and retain the right talent by Juliana Lim, SG Innovate

“The search for great talent is even more challenging for deep tech startups, competing with the tech giants of the world to fill highly sought-after technical roles such as robotics engineers, data scientists, and quantum researchers.

Yet deep tech startups still enjoy a certain draw, especially amongst Millennials and Gen Zs. A dipstick survey we conducted recently found that they enjoy contributing to a good cause, having more autonomy and flexibility built within the job, and being part of a team with strong potential growth.

The next generation of talent has also shared their aspirations to be part of a collective where they can make a difference and create a real-world impact on issues they care about.

This is where deep tech startups, with their promise of developing solutions that address pressing global problems, are well-positioned to appeal to this purpose-driven generation and compete to attract the ‘cream of the crop’.”

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