Mercer is the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Headquartered in USA, they have 28,000 clients and 4.35 in annual revenue. We were lucky to have Elaine Ng, the partner of Mercer to speak to us on Asia business and job dynamics. CABA saw 40-odd attendees from the university absorbing a flavour of Asia’s business challenges from a consulting veteran, who shared trends and insights across 18 countries, including Australia and Japan.
In the field of HR consulting, Elaine’s breadth and depth of experience across Asia countries are unmatched by many. Elaine’s career with Mercer began in the 1990s when she was working as the capacity of the regional managing director of Executive Resources Consulting before leaving the company to start her own company, HRBS. The successful Rewards Consulting business expanded from Hong Kong to China and Singapore, with four offices and 40 employees. The company was eventually sold back to Mercer in 2015. Being an entrepreneur herself, she sees the profession from the lens of both a HR Consultant and a CEO.
Business Outlook in Asia and Evolution of Jobs
Elaine shared trends regarding 18 Asia countries, making comparison against the rest of the world in terms of economic outlook and growth trajectories. Asia is well-poised to increase its dominance, and a rebalancing of wealth between the developing and developed world is underway. While China’s growth has simmered as it shifts its growth equation, Asean’s impressive capacity for growth more than makes up for Asia’s sustained growth trajectory and dominance. She went on to talk about the evolution of jobs with specialised commercial roles gaining most traction, mainly driven by technological advancements already felt by markets, and shed light on speculative or futuristic advancements that are creating emergent roles, especially those in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Elaine also clarified some of the myths that we had about the shifting of manufacturing jobs back to the USA from China.
APAC compensation trends
In the second half of Elaine’s presentation, we observed that Asia companies are gaining global clout, and pay in Asia is rising much faster than that in the USA and EU. As we obtain trusted primary research data from the world’s premium HR consulting company, we could really feel how much real spending power in China and India are rising, and creating a powerful middle class population that is going to dictate demand for goods and services in the global market. We noticed that pay trends across Asia differs significantly across countries but trends changes quickly year-over-year. China’s pay levels at the executive level has by far overtaken many developed countries’, and this is increasingly creating sensitive compensation management issues among global MNCs. The Mercer talk ended on a high note when our audience got a pleasant surprise by Elaine when she talked about MBA salaries and how working dynamics might be different for MBAs who are interested to work across various locations in Asia.
This CABA event was very successfully organised in the spirit of building a network between the University of Cambridge and Asia, and dedicated to sharing knowledge about Asia, and making connections with Asian business leaders such as Elaine. We look forward to keeping in touch with her and expanding our network over time.