The Asia opportunity: time to build a global network of professional managers

19 November 2015 -


Having just returned from Asia, I’m convinced there’s an opportunity to build a global, connected professional management community

Ann Francke CMgr CCMI FIC

Earlier this month, I visited three out of our four branches in Asia – Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Upfront, let me also acknowledge our members in Sri Lanka; I’m sorry I could not meet them on this trip. Next time!

It’s important to get out and see and learn what is happening in these dynamic economies. And it was so valuable to meet many of the 1,000-plus loyal CMI members there. The best takeaway: that there are many ways in which we can learn from each other and jointly build a global professional management community. The international opportunities for CMI are truly exciting.

I learned much about their aspirations – and just how much we were on the same page. It was abundantly clear that there is a desire to collaborate. Our Asian members are keen to spread the brand name of CMI and build its reputation. They want to build management as a profession and encourage employers to skill up their management populations through the Chartered Manager. They want to reach out to the next generation by partnering with local universities.

In Singapore, I was invited to CMI’s annual International Management in Action Award (IMAA), where I was the guest of George Huang CCMI, our President and IMAA host. It was a real delight. The event was attended by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, among many other high-ranking officials and business leaders. It’s quite an inspiration to see CMI bearing such influence and reputation in what is one of the world’s most productive and well-managed nations. Just to give one example: I stayed in the gorgeous South Beach Hotel, which has just been opened by CMI member and CEO of Millennium Copthorne, Aloysius Lee FCMI.

In Malaysia, a nation that is highly attuned to cultural diversity, I enjoyed a really spirited debate about inclusive management hosted by the Malaysian Institute of Management. There was a great deal of interest in CMI’s work on the gender pay gap – and I met one very highly placed government figure who has founded a 30 Per Cent Club in Malaysia.

I also received a wonderful welcome in Hong Kong, where there has been a CMI chapter for 14 years. There, too, we have many connections with bodies such as the Hong Kong Development Council and the British Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong.

So, what have we agreed to take forward?

We will start by building the global community of Companions. We will be encouraging our Companions to reach out to our CMI members in Asia, rather than just passing through on their own business.

It was pointed out that the Gold Medal can only be conferred on those members who reside in the UK. But should we not be taking a more global view? Our Asian members were very challenging on this – and rightly so.

We can start building more partnerships with leading universities to educate the managers of the future. I saw how CMI in Singapore collaborates with Singapore Management University. I was impressed by the well-established relationships with Taylors and UniRazak, two leading private universities in Malaysia.

CMI has been present in Asia for more than a decade but it has a long way to travel on this particular journey. Other professional institutes and associations are much further down the path of globalisation. All of them have had to harness the energies and efforts of each local community with their wider global aims and endeavours, while also reflecting and respecting local sensitivities. We can learn from their experiences. After all, the capacity and willingness to learn from others is a key attribute of good management.

It’s our responsibility to kickstart these initiatives and to set in place a considered strategic approach that will help to develop our CMI member communities. The opportunity is to connect up a globally diverse group of professional managers. It will take time. But it is a truly exciting prospect.

Ann Francke is chief executive of CMI. She would also like to make special thanks to Liau Beng Chye FCMI, Cecelia Tsui CMgr FCMI and David Anthony Jones CMgr FCMI