Asian brands buying in to "hands on" approach to change management, says Ketchum Change

New agency report finds that companies need to take more risks and be aware of change management as a constant to succeed

Gretchen Huestis

More and more Asian companies are asking for help to become more agile and accepting of change management, as it is now a very important aspect of brand success, said leading specialists at Ketchum Change.

Gretchen Huestis, Ketchum Change’s senior vice president and APAC regional director, said the firm’s experience in Asia has seen many brands recognise their shortcomings over changing internally.

"We find that in the discussions we have had to date with clients and prospect organisations in Asia they are asking for impactful and enduring change solutions," she told PRWeek Asia.

"To this degree they do see the need for a ‘hands on’ and high partnered approach to the work."

Speaking at a seminar to launch the firm’s Liquid Change study into modern change management, Huestis spoke of the agency’s handling of the entire restructuring at Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which recently re-launched as Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB).

"That required leading around 10,000 people through change, and handling all communications after the restructuring," she said.

"That was hard because it hit the press before employees knew, but we completed the change and [the airline] is now listed as a new company and rebranded."

In working with MAB, Huestis said that co-creating the change strategy with the client was key to its success, and that this is something Asian companies are keen for.

Huestis said there are two main reasons for Asian brands looking to improve their change management. First, many of them are now part of multinational corporations.

"They are often held to the same standards as their counterparts in the Americas or Europe with regards to innovation and strategic agility," she said.

Second, many Asian brands look to mature Western markets for what is best practice and try to emulate it, Huestis said.

"The leaders of these organisations have often studied abroad; they read about the latest management theory and are keen to show that their organisations are keeping pace," she said. 

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