The business community is facing a shortage of talented individuals to lead companies, the result of technological advancements and the rapid growth of emerging markets such as China, Russia and India, according to top business schools. Kathleen Slaughter, associate dean for Asia at the Richard Ivey School of Business in Hong Kong, said companies were hiring 'gifted amateurs' as managers because the retention of talented individuals had become increasingly difficult over the years. Managers in their thirties, Professor Slaughter said, belonged to the 'connected generation', who possessed skills in how to gain access to information and knowledge with the most advanced technology. However, they were also less likely to stay in one job for long. 'There has been a change in lifestyle and the boundary between work and leisure is blurred. First there was the mobile phone and e-mail, and now you have the BlackBerry. People just can't leave work alone,' she said. The change in lifestyle due to advanced technology and the rapid pace of globalisation which connected business executives to a global matrix of information, trade and job market flow, posed new challenges in management, such as work-life balance, coaching and staff engagement, Professor Slaughter said. 'We need people who have stayed long enough to see how projects have failed and why,' she said. 'These people have the skills to make good judgments and manage risks and conflicts.' Professor Slaughter said there was also a gap in the mainland between the rapid growth of the market and the development of business education, which was non-existent until 30 years ago. As companies were being privatised and globalised in the mainland there was demand for business executives who were able to work and communicate across cultures in which there were different business regulations and expectations. 'Business schools have responded in kind by addressing the management issues and they focus more on analytical and problem-solving skills training, and case-studies of corporations around the world,' Professor Slaughter said. Steven DeKrey, senior associate dean and director of master's programmes at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School, said the school had been more selective in student intake in response to globalisation and the emergence of new markets in recent years. Only 18 per cent of the student intake this year was from Hong Kong, Professor DeKrey said, and a stronger focus was on the mainland, which made up a third of the student intake, and India and Russia. All of the selected candidates had a proven record of global professional experience. The rapid expansion of new markets such as Russia and India, he said, translated to a shortage of talent. In the mainland that meant an underserved demand for branding and marketing executives, particularly in the retail service sector. According to Professor DeKrey, the recent issues caused by oil prices and inflation would make companies more willing to hire EMBA and MBA graduates because of their international exposure and sophisticated skills in handling cross-cultural issues. But Michael Ferguson, associate dean (graduate studies) and director of MBA programmes at the Faculty of Business Administration of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said there remained a problem of recruitment and the retention of top talent because of rapid globalisation and market growth, and a growing awareness of how business was contributing to the community and the globe. Professor Ferguson said business school graduates and professional executives would hesitate to join certain companies, despite their enthusiasm in recruitment. 'Business professionals are becoming more selective in joining firms,' he said. 'They pay a lot of attention to issues such as corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. They may choose not to enter a certain company because of its reputation, regardless of how attractive the remuneration package may be.' He said that the development of entrepreneurship would be under the spotlight in the next five years, especially in the mainland. With a set of rules, regulations and business expectations that clashed with those in the global arena, sped on by technological advances, there was a need for business professionals in the mainland who could grasp the opportunities amid the challenges. Professor Ferguson said to grapple with the changes, business schools needed to attend diligently to their role in providing a platform for business leaders to communicate and exchange views on issues. The MBA programme at Chinese University makes use of executives from leading corporations, such as the MTR and HSBC, who share with students the challenges they face in business and exchange views on other contemporary issues such as corporate social responsibility and environment issues. 'There is nothing really new about things that we do or face in business. Everything is accelerating and things are happening more rapidly with more intensity. But at the same time as a crisis comes up, there will also be opportunities,' Professor Ferguson said.