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Asian markets

Stevens has concentrated on Asia because it is expected to be the largest air travel market by 2020. One in every two people that board an aircraft will do so in Asia according to Glidepath's industry association, Airports Council International (ACI). He also believes Asia is a smarter market for New Zealand to be in than the UK and Europe. The opportunities in developing Asian countries, particularly in Glidepath’s field of infrastructure, are far greater than those in developed countries.

Glidepath has completed projects in many Asian countries including Japan, China, India, Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The company understands the importance of considering language barriers, researching the cultural approaches of conducting business, cultural awareness and acceptance, professionalism and customs when doing business in different countries.

 

Glidepath - Baggage handling system Durban.

Each Asian country has different ways of doing business, as well as having different belief systems and traditions. When marketing to these countries, Glidepath ensures its marketing is multi-lingual, culturally sensitive and market specific.

Glidepath researches what languages its employees speak – both abroad and in the Glen Eden factory – and often calls on them to translate when necessary. At the time of writing this case study, sixteen different languages were spoken amongst Glidepath employees in New Zealand, nine of them being languages from Asia.

Asian business strategy - our people

Key to Glidepath’s Asian business strategy is the placement of sales employees who have a familiarity or connection with the country it’s marketing to or operating in.

The four sales staff located throughout Asia are not all necessarily trained in sales, but are utilised for their other skills. For example, Paul Ramalingam, who is the Sales Manager for Indonesia and Malaysia, was originally a Design Engineer. He has been seconded to this role because he can speak Malay and understands the culture of both countries.

Likewise, Rajesh Kalra, Sales Manager for India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal was in fact an Estimator for the company, but was employed in this role due to his knowledge of Indian culture and its ways of doing business.

Each Sales Manager researches the country they are in and advises Stevens, Housley and other Glidepath employees who travel to these countries to discuss business matters. Some of the main points that have been raised are important to all the countries within Asia and some are highlighted due to their uniqueness within specific countries.

 

Glidepath - Baggage handling system Durban.

According to Tim Kotlar, Sales Manager in China, the issue of Guanxi is extremely important to the Chinese. Guanxi is based around relationships and networks of influence - critical when conducting business in China, and just as important as product and price. The emphasis on presenting clients with gifts and taking them out for dinner is of huge significance to the client and is central to the negotiation process between the client and Glidepath and the building of trust and respect between the parties.

It’s also very difficult to organise meetings in advance in China, and Glidepath has different strategies it has developed to work with this. The Chinese culture needs to be learnt and respected.

Kotlar states:

'The ease and manner in which we conduct business at home is not transportable to Asia. Each country has its own rules and regulations which must be understood and followed, and which are often very bureaucratic, and with several layers of hierarchy. Consequently there often exists mechanisms which short cut or circumvent the legal norms or offer other benefits.'

He goes on to say that 'care must be taken when considering a way forward and there is a lot to learn and avoid in these alternative (yet interesting) business practices'.

Rajesh Kalra, Sales Manager for India, refers to the challenges Glidepath faces when dealing with India. The bureaucracy is top heavy and the amount of administrative procedures and red tape is problematic, particularly regarding taxes. This caught Glidepath out when it first started operating in India, creating a very large tax bill because the taxation structures vary from province to province and often city to city.

There are also very stringent rules around the transfer of funds. Glidepath has overcome this by opening separate local bank accounts and transferring funds to head office as necessary to pay bills and salaries.

Labour laws in India are also very complicated, and infrastructure is weak with lots of electrical power outages, etc. While dealing with these issues can be time consuming and costly, thanks to Rajesh’s research, Glidepath is able to minimise any risks or costs that might otherwise be incurred.

 

Glidepath - Baggage handling system Durban.

Another key strategy is to recruit most of its frontline workers from within the country it’s operating in, as opposed to bringing in outside contractors, particularly in India. To accomplish this, the company opened up a branch office in Mumbai, in June 2009, so it could employ the local people on a permanent basis to deal with the red tape and everyday issues. Glidepath does this for the same reason it employs its Sales Managers – the workers are chosen because of their awareness of the culture and protocols needed to conduct business in that particular country.

While they admit there have been some issues and challenges doing business in Asia, the Sales Managers are only too happy to share some of the more positive benefits of conducting business overseas.

Rob Harvey, who is based in Australia and covers South East Asia as part of his market, says that you are able to broaden both your professional and personal experience, which raises your horizons and teaches you new skills, for example, dealing with interpreters.

China’s Sales Manager, Tim Kotlar, says working in Asia gives one the opportunity to experience new challenges and diverse cultures. He states 'with nearly all Asian countries having populations that vastly exceed New Zealand’s, the breadth and depth and vibrancy of economies present a host of opportunities'. He also feels the more you learn about a country and its culture, the more likely you are to both enjoy it and be successful.

Read more about Glidepath's journey:

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