Millennium Post

‘English skills’ make Indian executives preferred choice of western companies

DTCA, a firm specialising in placing executives in top roles and on company boards, analysed the composition of the boards of the 20 largest companies in four leading economies in the world — United States, Germany, France and UK.

The number of Asian executives holding non-executive director positions in these companies has risen to 23 this year, from just nine in 2009.

Indian executives are leading this pack, with 8 of them holding such positions with top multinational companies currently, said DTCA. ‘With an increasing number of Western companies looking to expand in Asia, especially in India, there is a growing belief that you need to have local talent at the very senior level to be able to fully exploit the region's growth potential,’ said Fabrice Desmarescaux, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of DTCA, who has nearly 20 years' experience working with top Asian executives.

The trend has gathered pace over the past five years as Western companies have focused their attention on expanding their business in Asian economies such as India. As these companies boost their presence in the region further, they have been looking to appoint Asian executives to their boards to help them achieve their goals, not least because they want to understand the markets and the culture in order to fully exploit the opportunities, he said. ‘Gathering the board once a year in Asia, beyond the entertainment value for the directors and the cosmetic announcement effect at the AGM, will not help.

The best way for boards to make informed decisions about Asia is to appoint Asian directors,’ said Desmarescaux. He said Indian executives are being appointed by Western companies for reasons like felicity with English language, market size, regional expertise and prior familiarity with western firms. Indian executives, especially those in senior roles, tend to speak fluent English which makes it easier for companies to deal with them and vice versa. It is a key market for many western companies.

Having an Indian executive in a senior role can help companies make more informed decisions about their plans for the country. Many Indian executives are also well versed with other regional economies and can help the Western companies formulate expansion strategies in those countries as well. They have often worked with Western multinationals and are well versed with their business model and practices. That coupled with their local knowledge makes them a key  asset to have on the board.
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