The Importance of Attracting Senior Tech Talent to the GBA

Leadership StrategiesTransformation InnovationConsumerFinancial ServicesIndustrialTechnologyTechnology, Data, and DigitalExecutive SearchCulture Analytics
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May 10, 2022
3 min read
Leadership StrategiesTransformation InnovationConsumerFinancial ServicesIndustrialTechnologyTechnology, Data, and DigitalExecutive SearchCulture Analytics
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Training top-notch talent is critical for GBA companies. The availability of talent, and technological change are among the 5 biggest factors impacting companies.
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Globally, the pandemic has accelerated a shift towards technology, and demarcations between the technology sector and other industry verticals are breaking down faster than ever before. The pandemic has let tech and digitally-advanced companies rise above the rest. The focus on science and technology has also accelerated in China with the government fully implementing reforms and policies around these areas1. The Greater Bay Area (GBA) will play an important role in these plans: Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao region was picked as a national champion for innovation and technology development by the Central Government.

The vision is to transform the GBA region into a world-class hub for innovation, technology and talent. Signs of progress are noticeable, with an increase in investment in technology companies and a surge in the number of technology companies that have IPO’d in the last three years: from less than 10 in 2019 to over 40 last year2. The GBA is now home to 43 unicorns valued at a combined US$1.1 trillion3. It is also the home ground for 25 Global Fortune 500 companies, outgrowing New York Bay Area or the San Francisco Bay Area, representing industries like financial services, technology, and manufacturing.

Harry Lin

Training top-notch talent is critical for GBA companies to sustain its growth and its competitive position globally, and not surprisingly, a key goal as part of China’s reforms.  The availability of key talent and/or skills and the rapid technological change are among the five biggest factors impacting organizations across all sectors4. Our research shows that the technology sector is the most concerned around talent skills shortage, with 69% of technology executives stating this was in the top five risks, and only 46% of technology executives agreeing that leadership is prepared to address this talent issue.

That there is a war for this talent ongoing is evident by the rapid demand for technology, data, and information officers. “Whilst our client engagements across China have steadily grown with in the last 3 years, the demand for Tech Officers has tripled” Harry Lin, Managing Director for RRA’s Greater Bay Area offices Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Furthermore, companies are increasingly recruiting leaders externally, as shown by our analysis of senior Tech Officers hiring. “Our clients have realized the benefits of engaging with us for our services to ensure they are hiring the right leader”.

Analysis of senior Tech Officers of GBA companies

Olivia Liang

Attracting top tech talent in this hyper competitive landscape isn’t easy. “Companies in the GBA area need to think beyond just their company brand and an attractive compensation package”, Olivia Liang, Executive Director in RRA’s Shenzhen office.

While these are of course important factors for tech leaders, our experience and research finds that top candidates value other important factors such as mission, purpose, and impact; the ability to build, learn, and grow; the responsibility of owning a technology or service line; internal and market visibility; and developing leadership skills in proximity to the chief executive officer . Location has also been an important consideration for technology leaders – they have the tools to work remotely and will opt to be wherever is best suited to get the job done.

“It can be challenging to relocate tech leaders, as very few leaders are keen to commit to a new position that is across the country, or even in a different region, or different country, especially with the current uncertainties around the pandemic”, Olivia Liang. Companies in the GBA area will need to address these challenges . In order to help organizations with attracting and retaining the best talent, it is important that organizations think more holistically about the technology functions within the organization:

 

The importance of attracting senior Tech Talent to the Greater Bay Area

 

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to attracting and retaining technology talent. Organizations will need to continuously assess what the right talent is for them, what governance structure works for the organization as well as will attract and retain talent, and what vision and culture is needed to advance their business model. “We ensure our services are tailored to the specific needs of our clients, and we help our clients with not only finding and assessing the right leadership talent, but also ensuring a proper onboarding and transition of these senior leaders. We also advise our clients on what organizational culture will support the vision and goals they have, and how to increase the effectiveness of their entire team”. Harry Lin.

1 Science and tech reforms priority for new year - Chinadaily.com.cn
2 Pitchbook Analysis, 2022
3 SCMP “How does the Greater Bay Area raise unicorns?” 10 May 2021
4 Russell Reynolds Associates (2021) “Global Leadership Monitor” 
5 Russell Reynolds Associates (2021) “Building a Best-in-Class Data Function”