May 20, 2020

Asia indicates the future of business post-COVID-19

William Girling
3 min
Asia indicates the future of business post-COVID-19
McKinsey has released a new report speculating that the Asian continent may be indicating the direction of business’ future...

McKinsey has released a new report speculating that the Asian continent may be indicating the direction of business’ future. 

The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is widespread - global GDP may decrease by up to 6.2% (the worst since the Great Depression) - and Asia, where 60% of people on Earth live, is faced with the very real prospect of increased poverty for millions.

However, despite this challenge, McKinsey notes, the continent has maintained some of the world’s most consistently good economic activity; according to McKinsey’s long-term study, seven of its economies achieved or exceed 3.5% GDP growth over a 50-year period. 

The countries listed are China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

Structured for success

Hosting 43% of the largest companies by revenue, Asia’s development over the last century has been a near-unprecedented success story. 

McKinsey attributes this, amongst other things, to a regional attitude which emphasises corporate agility, fast response to opportunities and a dynamic mode of operation. 

The report notes that, although the COVID-19 virus began to take hold there, Asia has, generally, managed to effect faster containment of its spread, particularly in Singapore, South Korea and China. This is seemingly confirmed by the latest reported figures.

Given that continued Occidental prosperity is dependent on a similar level of economic ‘bounce-back, McKinsey opines that an examination of Asian attitudes could be beneficial.


Framework for the future

A new social contract: As the digital world becomes ever more entwined with physical reality, concerns regarding privacy and the degree to which collected personal data can be utilised by companies and governments continues to be debated.

McKinsey notes that Hong Kong, China, Australia and Singapore have introduced unconventional measures, yet the report notes, “In times of crisis, the state plays an essential role in protecting people and prioritising a nation’s resources for the response.”

Redefining work and consumerism: The usurpation of brick and mortar (B&M) stores by e-commerce may be fully consummated in a new era defined by social-distancing and digital technology.

The report highlights that “In South Korea, the online retailer Coupang shipped a record-high 3.3mn items on 28 January, and’s food-delivery sales rose by 98%.” With China’s e-commerce titan Alibaba reporting similar growth, jobs and consumerism may finally shift to online platforms.

Emphasis on speed and scalability: In order to cope with the rapid escalation of COVID-19’s threat, China invested approximately US$142bn in developing its public infrastructure, a figure representing 1% of national GDP.

Other countries in the West have also pledged huge sums on national resources to support businesses and communities during the pandemic, but few have done so on the same scale (both in terms of finance and speed) as Asian states.

Shift from globalisation to regionalisation: McKinsey notes that China represented 50 to 70% of global demand for essential mineral resources, such as copper, iron and coal. When the pandemic made trade problematic, Asian markets had to diversify to meet their demands.

Many countries opted for more local supply-chains than ever before, both to contain the virus and ensure business continuity in the short-term. 

Although McKinsey acknowledges that some industries were already in the process of doing this (for instance textiles), the report postulates that nascent plans could subsequently be accelerated. This new focus could be pivotal for global economies seeking to recover in a similar manner.

For more information on business topics in APAC, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief APAC

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Jun 13, 2021

Seo JungJin: Who is EY’s World Entrepreneur of 2021?

Kate Birch
3 min
From just US$45,000 capital in 2003 to a world-leading biopharma giant with revenues of US$1.69bn today, Seo JungJin is crowned EY World Entrepreneur 2021

Seo JungJin, founder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which most recently developed an antibody treatment for COVID-19, has been named the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, becoming the first South Korean in the award’s 21-year history.

Regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates visionary and innovative leaders from across 60 countries who are transforming the world and fostering growth.

JungJin, who is now honoroary chairman of Celltrion Group, was up against a worthy cast of entrepreneurial competitors, taking the crown from among 45 award winners across 38 countries and territories.

Speaking during the virtual event, JungJin described his own interpretation of entrepreneurship as something that brings together “a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good”.

Why was JungJin crowned King Entrepreneur?

A South Korean native and now 63 years of age, JungJin founded biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion in 2003. In the nearly two decades since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its goal of advancing health and welfare for all by developing ground-breaking drugs to treat autoimmune disease, various forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19.

The company, which JungJin started with just US$45,000 and five of his colleagues, has since growth to more than 2,1000 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69bn.

According to the panel, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world with the pandel moved by both his incredible story and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.

Described by the chair of the EY judging panel Rosaleen Blair as “representing everything an unstoppable should be” from taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance that the judging panel felt most represented the entrepreneurial spirit.

“He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies,” says Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader. “His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment.”

How did JungJin get there?

JungJin's entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. before losing his job amid the carmaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

Following this, JungJin started collaborating with colleagues to explore business opportunities in different industries, though none delivered lasting success. The turning point came after he attended a talk hosted by renowned scholars, which inspired him to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.

And so he founded Celltrion with just US$45,000 of his savings. The launch of Remsima, credited with being the world's first antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country's fairly underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that today are being used worldwide.

With ambitions to be the world’s first in different areas, Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to great success over the past two decades, most recently responding to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and working to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.

“When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives,” explains JungJin. “The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive.”


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