“Disruption is real – and it is happening now,” warns Professor Julie Cogin, the Director AGSM @ UNSW Business School.

Speaking at a BusinessThink event in Hong Kong, on ‘Leadership in the age of disruption’, she said; “Recent research shows that in the past, most corporations could expect to be around for nearly 70 years. Now, most have a life cycle of 15 years. And the landscape is littered with businesses that failed to anticipate and exploit disruption.”

The panel event discussed the implications of the challenge facing companies at a time of rapidly accelerating technology and changes in global employment trends.

On the panel were Julie Cogin, Jaclyn Tsui, Partner of Altitude Labs, and Ray Slayford, Management Consulting Partner, KPMG. The panel event was moderated by the UNSW Business School’s Julian Lorkin.

The panel discussed the global hunt for talent and what that means for the new C-suite, and discussed the implications for businesses, from start-ups to multinationals.

“It is important to have savvy board members who understand the pace of change, and who can boost the bottom line,” said Ray Slayford. “It is a challenge across the region, because the change in the business models and customer requirements is so rapid. That is something Hong Kong has got to brace itself for.”

He said disruption comes in different forms. “In Hong Kong Fintec is very strong, however the adoption in large corporations, particularly in financial services, sees labour either moving offshore, or to digital platforms, where firms are using technology to drive costs down. However, some of the larger corporates have been slow to embrace change, and they are being left behind,” he added.

“Hong Kong has always been an entrepreneurial city, however large companies need to be open to adopt new technology,” said Jaclyn Tsui. “I don’t see a lot of board members that are between the age of 25 to 35, and these people are the type of people who can build products for consumers. I want to see the age of people on boards reduced, and include younger people who have built their own digital company.”

“We push out a lot of digital solutions, and our whole team is technical,” she said. “No one is just a business analyst. Everyone, including myself, are developers. Now, running a company requires people who respect that talent. I know how things are built, and having that knowledge is hugely beneficial for companies.”

Ray Slayford agreed, and commented “you need to adopt different approaches to business. The old approaches have gone – we just don’t have the time. The new methodologies are what start-ups do from scratch.”

Julie Cogin warned that what can cause an organisation to fail is when they start units just for innovation, separate from the main firm. “Big corporates need to foster innovation in everyone, and create a culture where everyone has a line of sight to the organisation being more agile.”

“It doesn’t matter how unique your strategy is, if you don’t have the right people, you will fail,” she summed up. “Younger people have a different approach to work. They want to do a whole host of different things in their life. And for those who master the technology, will want to take time off, and then come back to the company. The way to succeed is to recruit and retain them.”

Listen to a podcast of the event below:

Media contact: Julian Lorkin: 02 9385 9887