Break mindsets, if not rules - Rajat Gupta

JAIPUR NOV. 13. Dwelling on the subject of propelling Asia to the Big League could not have fitted Rajat Gupta, Senior Partner, Worldwide, McKinsey and Company, U.S., more. For, his journey from small town Maniktala in Kolkata, to the top of a $1.3 billion powerhouse, is most certainly Big League stuff.

"At least break some mindsets, if not rules,'' urged Mr Gupta, also on the advisory boards of the Harvard Business School and the Kellogg School of Management.

Pointing out market forecasts that Asia is expected to drive a significant proportion of the world GDP — contributing over 30 per cent of the growth in world GDP over the next five years — Mr. Gupta observed that even though Asia had been growing, the growth had not been enough to make Asia a superpower.

"For Asia to earn the right to be a superpower, we not only need to make a significant contribution to the world economy, but also, and perhaps more importantly, we need to see the emergence of several successful global companies out of Asia,'' observed Mr. Gupta.

Drawing examples from Asian corporates, Mr. Gupta said, "If locally successful companies such as Tata Motors in India, Hang Seng Bank in Hong Kong or Legend in China do not go global, their arena will be captured by established global giants.''

The good news, Mr Gupta pointed out, is from a recent McKinsey report that identifies globally successful companies. These include several contenders from within the Asia Pacific region.

The report places names such as Petronas Gas in Malaysia, Hyundai Motor in Korea, San Miguel in the Philippines, Singapore Telecommunications in Singapore and Yanzhou Coal Mining in China, in the same league as Infosys, Ranbaxy, Reliance and Wipro in India.

The research, however, adds that Asia has produced only few global champions.

"Only three of the 59 global champions we have identified are Asian companies - HSBC, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics,'' Mr. Gupta said. Elaborating on the reasons for this, Mr. Gupta mentioned low global competitiveness, local workforce and management culture, lack of organisational sophistication and limited global ambition as the reasons for this.

Cautioning companies about the long haul they were in for, Mr. Gupta said, "The globalisation journey is long and risky. For about 80 per cent of the companies we analysed, the journey to championship took ten years or more. Globalisation is about long-term commitment, making a sustained effort and systematic investments — both in financial and human resources. It is not surprising then, that some companies start off the journey but are not able to sustain the effort; and many fall by the wayside.''