Asians Good Engineers but Poor Leaders?

They Need to Pick up the Ability to Market Themselves, Too!

Are Asians good engineers but poor leaders? It does appear that the likes of Satya Nadella, Vinod Dham and Sundar Pitchai are exceptions. I will not fully blame it on prejudice or a cultural divide, as a report from Ascend, a group that researches Asian business issues, indicates.

cisco-padmasree-warrior-bitport-huSure we do have Yajoo’s Jerry Yang, Jack Ma of Alibaba, Softbank’s Masayoshi Son and many others like them but they are entrepreneurs who did not have to depend on technology companies to chart their career path.

Ascend based its report on a review of data filed with regulators by five technology companies (Google, Yahoo, Intel, HP and even LinkedIn.

Having served technology multinationals for the last more than 15 years, my impression is that Asians struggle to climb the corporate ladder because of a lack of leadership / communication skills and an inability to market themselves well within the establishment.

I would not rule out prejudice completely, though!

Cisco, an Exception: According to Denise Peck, a co-author of the Ascend study and former vice-president at Cisco Systems, “If you step into the cafeteria of any of these five companies, you will see plenty of Asian talent around. It’s only when you walk into the executive suites at these companies that you might see a problem.”

Satya Nadella 2012

Satya Nadella 2012

Cisco perhaps cannot be accused of nurturing any bias against Asians or women.

For, its key executive / senior leaders include Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, Pankaj Patel, Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer, Kelly Ahuja, Senior Vice President, Service Provider Business, Products, and Solutions, and many others.

I’ve had many opportunities to interact with the last two, for roadmap-related discussions and approvals, during my stay at Cisco as part of my work.

The next generation of leaders may see more from Asia as they equip themselves with the skills needed to reach the top, drawing strength and inspiration from those who are already there!

G Joslin Vethakumar


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Filed under Leadership, Self-Marketing Skills

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