Exclusive Q&A with Patrick Rooney, MD of AESC Asia-Pacific and The Middle East

Asian Executives are expecting the executive job market to growth in 2015. As reported by The Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) in their just-released BlueSteps 2015 Executive Job Outlook Report, Asian executive job trends show encouraging figures.

Asian executives

The report for the Asia-Pacific region highlights the following:

  • Over 66 percent of Asian executives believe that the job market outlook in 2015 is positive compared to 2014.
  • 62 percent expects strong growth in the healthcare/life science sector.
  • 56 percent sees employment growth in technology sector.

In order to dig deeper into the Asian executive job trends, we are privileged to have a Q&A session with Patrick Rooney, the Manging Director of AESC for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East regions.

Ivan Widjaya (Q): The 2015 BlueSteps Job Outlook Report has just released. Can you tell us a bit about the report and why it matters to Asian companies and job market, as well?

Patrick Rooney (A): This survey of 80 management professionals from the APAC region, director-level through C-suite, was conducted from January 2015 to February 2015 and included responses from management-level professionals in the industrial, technology, healthcare, professional services and other sectors worldwide. This report matters because there is very little information available on the executive employment market across Asia. Executive views on their own employment situation, and that of their peers, can provide indicate broader employment trends in the economy and impending changes to the regional economy.

Q: Talking about the supply-and-demand of the job market, how’s the competition for management-level positions?

A: Based on my own conversations with search consultants and executives, I would say that competition for management-level positions differs significantly from market to market and sector to sector.

Indonesia certainly faces some challenges getting the right people at the right level. Overseas investment, particularly from Japan, creates greater need for executives, but this is occurring at exactly the same time that Indonesian conglomerates are expanding domestically and internationally and also have a severe need for talent. In addition, Indonesia can be a difficult place to successfully recruit foreign executives to. In China there is a definite need for executives who are able to manage risk and compliance issues and this reflects global trends. Across Asia there is increasing demand for executives with experience managing digital aspects of business.

In terms of sectors, healthcare and technology sectors show strong growth. In the Expert Q&A (page 35) not all of the search consultants/career experts were in agreement. Some said competition is increasing, some said it’s situational and others said it’s increasing, but there are also more companies with vacant roles. This reflects variation between markets.

Q: To compare China to the rest of Asia, are there any significant differences in term of job market outlook?

A: A number of indicators suggest that the Chinese economy is undergoing a period of intense change. China is attempting to avoid the ‘middle income trap’ by transitioning economic growth from manufacturing and infrastructure to technology innovation and service industries. At the same time, many Chinese firms are going global and this affects the talent needs of these companies. Japan and Korean companies also seem to be going through a period of increased globalisation. In South East Asia, manufacturing and FMCG sectors remain strong. Many markets in Asia are seeing a growth in healthcare due to increasing wealth and aging populations.

Antonio Cheung from UHUNT said in the expert Q&A section of the report: “In China, the number of management-level jobs is likely to increase depending on different sectors. Some sectors are diminishing such as manufacturing, electronics, OEMs. Others are expanding such as environmental, health care and medical.”

Two Asian doctors having a discussion

Q: The report shows that the healthcare/life sciences and technology sectors are two of the most rapid developing sectors in Asia. Is the growth reflected in the increase of remuneration and/or in salary packages?

A: We didn’t release any regional salary data from this year’s Compensation report, so I don’t have data that can confirm this. Though, worldwide, that report did find that salaries were increasing for most execs.

“Almost half (44%) of executives at the CEO/President level experienced a rise in total compensation.”

Q: What’s the future hold for management-level professionals and opportunities in Asia?

A:The economy across Asia will continue to regionalise, globalise and digitise. Those that cannot work in global digital world may be left behind.

I hope this helps.

Many thanks, Mr. Rooney, for the time!


The executive job outlook in Asia will remain positive in years to come. Asian regions are undergoing the disruptive period that can lead to phenomenal growth, which include the growing pains that come with it.

In response to such growth, Asian businesses need the right executives to lead the growth, which mean that the demand for executives in Asia, especially those who are well-versed in digital tech advances, will remain healthy for years to come

Some great news for great business leaders out there!