Business in developing economies: Enter the dragons' den

As the most confident Chinese and Indian firms expand beyond their national borders, ambitious western high-flyers are realising that the fast-track of tomorrow will belong to those bold souls who dive in and join an Asian firm.

by Alicia Clegg

Doing a turn in the emerging markets of the east has been a key part of any wannabe multinational CEO's career plan for years now, as western firms look enviously at the double-digit growth, energy and vigour demonstrated by the red-blooded economies of Asia. But, as a new generation of Chinese and Indian corporations starts to spread its wings and move west from Beijing, Shanghai and Mumbai, it's clear that the coming generations of business leaders will be increasingly dominated by a new breed. The successful careers of the future will belong not to those who cut their teeth in the old way, as corporate tourists working for the distant outpost of a western firm, but to those hardy souls who enter the belly of the beast and work for a home-grown firm, becoming a fully paid-up member of Team Asia.

Indeed, the most confident and ambitious of these emerging new titans already dream of making it big outside their domestic markets, and realise that to do so they will need to vastly improve their insight into western habits and consumers. Consequently, they are scrambling to scoop up top talent over here - brand builders, managers and technical experts - to spearhead their global ambitions. For enterprising westerners, that's a career gamechanger: the chance to live and breathe the adventure from the inside.

And just as eastern firms want to hire more westerners, so more westerners want to head east. James Mendes, Asia managing director at recruiter Futurestep, says that since the occidental economies took a nosedive in 2008, his firm has seen an upsurge in candidates seeking new opportunities and a new life in Asia.

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