Business and Society

Manila Bulletin, June 23, 2008 | Go to article overview

Business and Society


Thanks to the executive search firm, My Global Executives, managed by Francis Sebastian and Ray Canilao, I recently gave an economic briefing in Ho Chi Minh City to a group of some 50 mostly Filipino executives running multinational enterprises in Vietnam. I had a feeling of dejavu that brought me twenty years back to Jakarta and Surabaya, Indonesia, when I used to give economic briefings to Filipino executives who were at the helm of numerous Indonesian companies. The majority of these executives were holders of MBA or Executive MBA degrees and were facing rather simple business problems of a consumer market that had only recently evolved from a predominantly agricultural economy. I was impressed with the number of Filipino executives that are now the expats in Vietnam in such multinational enterprises as Citicorp, Glaxo, Nestle, Johnson and Johnson and S.C. Johnson. There were also the Filipino managers running Filipino multinationals like United Laboratories, San Miguel Corporation, Jollibee, and Oishi. Like Indonesia twenty or more years ago, Vietnam has now an increasing demand for Filipino executives because the country will take time to produce their own indigenous managers. Even today, there are still a good number of Filipinos managers running Indonesian enterprises.

During my sabbatical at the IESE Business School, I have seen at close range the surging demand for an MBA education from young professionals from Asia. To cite the example of the Philippines, just four years ago Filipino students admitted to the full-time MBA program of IESE were very few and far between. Today, there are four or five Filipinos admitted every year to the program which admits yearly some 220 participants. As a whole Asia represented less than 5 percent of the MBA population at IESE just four years ago. In the school year that will start in September 2008, the ratio is close to 20 percent. In fact, if there is no quota for every nationality that is imposed to have a desirable diversity of countries represented in the student population, many more Indians would be admitted because of the propensity of university graduates from India to score very high in the GMAT test. The number of qualified applicants from the emerging market is rising much faster than those coming from Europe because of the demographic crisis that most European countries are facing today. It is only the Americans that have maintained the number of applicants because of the swelling immigrant population in the US.

In an article by Beth Gardiner that appeared in The Wall Street Journal (June 1, 2008), another reason is being given for the increasing number of MBA graduates going to Asia. …

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