Ambitious businesses and leaders in the region are busy formulating strategic plans to be involved in the “Belt and Road Initiative”, worth thousands of trillions of dollars and involving the participation of more than 70 countries, even though some still believe the initiative to be no more than a slogan. “The challenges all leaders will face regardless of size, track record, whether state owned enterprise, Hong Kong-listed or family-owned business, will be the development of a unique and competitive ‘road map’ for each regional operation, which not only determines its role in the region but also clearly illustrates what differentiated products and services they will supply and deliver,” says Dr Brian To, senior practice professor and senior fellow of the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. To says the competitive forces will be vastly different from the usual Hong Kong model of business development and expansion. “The mindsets or mental models in relation to competition, talent management, investment in innovation and global business expansion all must be refreshed. “Long gone are the days when we could just depend upon guanxi for business development and revenue expansion.” A more evenly distributed network for administration, logistics and professional services is needed. The global strategist says: “Boards will only benefit by embracing diversity by engaging experienced global and innovation experts.” Some firms are expanding through joint ventures, alliances and partnerships as well as human resource and human capital development to foster an environment where initiatives in innovation and cultural diversity can thrive. Apart from strategies, quality of leadership with a new mindset, such as multicultural appreciation, are key to success, not only in Beijing’s global trade development strategy, but also in the dynamic, globalised business world. Long gone are the days when we could just depend upon guanxi for business development and revenue expansion Dr Brian To Leading EMBA and DBA programmes need to be responsive to market needs, and conditions have become more of a necessity than an option in management education. “Special programmes including conflict management, business and behaviour, global trends and social network theory will be emerging,” To says. To, who acts as a consultant to several Asian governments, militaries and Fortune 500 companies, says leadership is what “strikes the balance between chaos and functioning”. “The study of leadership should not be restricted to a discussion about the latest fads and models but must go deeper into the anatomy of leadership coupled with a profound understanding of behavioural science. “Management and business degree programmes must be relevant and practical,” he says. “Many EMBA programmes have come under heavy criticism as many participants have been enrolling for the purpose of networking and for future access. “This motive has not considered the many benefits participants may have enjoyed and may have eventually applied facilitating growth in businesses from Hong Kong to Shanghai and Singapore along with many other key cities in the region.” Based on the demands for knowledge and experience from the “Belt and Road Initiative”, graduate business education will receive many opportunities. “This can be evidenced via the emerging trend and phenomenon that has now anchored itself in world-class cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai for leaders and professionals to earn multiple graduate degrees and for academics to earn multiple doctorates,” To says.