Asia Tech Podcast

Podcast by Graham Brown

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Tony Fernandes is the CEO of AirAsia and one of the most recognizable business leaders in the region. He is outspoken, a maverick and often treads (in his own words), “a fine line between brilliance and stupidity”. By his own admission, some of his business bets haven’t paid off – taking over a Formula One team and a football club. But others certainly have. His net worth is estimated at $745 million. Behind his success is a story of taking huge risks – he bought AirAsia for 1 Malaysian Ringgit when nobody else saw its potential value when only 6% of Malaysians were flying. To Tony, that meant 94% of the market was untapped. He soon turned it around, growing the airline from 2 to 200 planes and reporting a profit within a year. Many know of the AirAsia success story but what and who made it possible? In this podcast, Tony shares insights into his own backstory that continue to shape his business career today – from a Tupperware selling Mum “who could sell ice to eskimos” to a Dad who withheld praise on young Tony’s successes. Then there’s those maverick tendencies. When you get thrown in the deep end you either sink or learn to swim very fast. His scrappy nature goes way back to the day his father packed him off on a plane at Sebang airport. Unknown to Tony, he was heading to Heathrow airport to start a new life in boarding school in the UK – a teenager, alone in an unfamiliar world. Surviving these ordeals as a kid imbues any adult with a sense of confidence in business. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Tony also shares insights about his journey never before discussed in public media – from his first encounters in the UK – to how these experiences impacted his belief in the importance of talent and diversity within AirAsia.
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The Asian travel market will grow another 53% to $650 billion in the next 5 years. Take a 5 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and you can access 3.5 billion people, or half the world’s population. This episode is a follow up to my conversation with AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes here Asiatechpodcast. In these conditions of HYPERCOMPETITION, the future model of the travel industry will emerge. Grab, Gojek, Alibaba and AirAsia all are rapidly embracing Digital Transformation and organizing their teams around CUSTOMER not FUNCTIONAL competence. In this podcast, as a follow up to the Tony Fernandes Episode I share insights on Hypercompetition and the $650 billion Asian travel market.
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Graham Brown

In this special edition of Asia Tech Podcast I share an inside look on what’s happening in the fast moving world of Customer Experience in Asia. Case studies featured include Alibaba Hema, PingAn Financial, Grab, Uber, Emirates and Airasia. The challenge facing brands in Asia is their competition won’t come from the next guy in category, but from a completely different sector. This asynchronous competition – players like Alibaba or Amazon – will be well resourced and able to wipe out incumbents and with them generations of legacy. We look at how Asia is positioned to accommodate Digital Transformation and who is leading in this space.
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Graham Brown

AirAsia is an interesting case study. On the one hand, it’s an airline. On the other, it sits in the middle of a hypercompetitive cauldron of opportunity. A 5 hour flight from HQ in Malaysia gives you access to 3.5 billion people, half the world’s population. Add to this the rising tide of Asia’s $30 trillion Middle Class. With 40 million people visiting the website every month and 100 million passengers flying, it’s possible to argue their valuations, based on data potential alone, should be seen in the same context as Netflix (135x) and Gojek (200x) rather than General Electric (16x) or General Motors (6x). The residing challenge for any airline is the fact that 99.9% of the time, its customers aren’t in a plane, and that most people still see them as an airline. Digital transformation takes good leadership and a compelling story; a story that reframes their value. How do you build an ecosystem around a platform when 90% of the value is created off payroll? How do you foster lean startup thinking within the walls of a corporation? In this podcast I’ll unpack the challenges and also where I think they are heading.
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Graham Brown

Howard Yu is the LEGO Professor of Management and Innovation at IMD Business School, and author of LEAP. In this conversation, we share top level insights from Howard’s talk at the Singapore Management Festival. We look at how companies innovate for hypergrowth, not just in the short term, but over generations. Howard shares case studies on innovative companies that may surprise you such as John Deere (an agricultural machinery manufacturer). We also take a look at success and failure in Asia’s hypercompetitive markets, the role of diversity in innovation, and the 3 steps organizational leaders can take to nurture more innovative cultures. It’s a conversation that looks under the hood of business success and failure, companies that include Amazon, AWS, Tencent, DBS, Kodak and GoJek.
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Asia Tech Podcast was at LEVEL3 Singapore to talk to Adam Lyle (Executive Chairman Padang & Co., Head @LEVEL3 Singapore), David Ryan (Head of Commercial Excellence and Digital, Syngenta) and Sudipto Roy (Managing Director, Team Unilever AAR (Asia, Africa, Russia) @Mindshare). In this conversation, David Ryan and Sudipto Roy shared with us their experience, their work over the past few years and their reasons for coming to a busy hub like Singapore. They also talked about corporate innovation and how LEVEL3 is bringing the right people to the right place by creating an open space for innovation. We hear from our guests about innovation that takes place in spaces rather than departments.
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Graham Brown

In this week’s episode, host Graham Brown looks at the importance of telling your company’s story. Brands covered include: AirAsia, Meituan, Xero, GoJek, Uber, Grab, Huawei, Tencent, Apple and Alibaba. We look at the growing role of podcasting in telling those brand stories effectively, and its wider role in Asia’s digital transformation. This podcast covers the importance of humanizing your brand and the reason storytelling is such a powerful method of creating and moulding a brand. We also hear how podcast scan communicate with a business’ target audience. He then explores why companies need to change the way they tell their story, moving away from traditional methods, such as advertising and PR.
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Graham Brown

Spotify has spent $400m on acquiring a winning strategy in podcasting. Their acquisitions include Gimlet Media, Anchor and Parcast. While the industry has analysed this strategic direction in detail, nobody has broken this down for Asia. In Asia Tech Podcast 493, my colleague Prarthana Sibal joins me to look at the podcast opportunity in Asia. We unpack Asia’s $30 trillion middle class and frontrun the demographic trends that could make Asia a huge greenfield market. We discuss why young girls are avid consumers or true crime podcasts, why Asian brands have a substantial storytelling gap that won’t be filled by legacy or ad agencies, and how the podcast market in Asia could be potentially bigger than the rest of the world.
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Graham Brown

About Graham Brown

Since 2017, Asia Tech Podcast host Graham Brown has been talking to leading storytellers in Asia to share the challenges of digital transformation and marketing innovation. Into the 2020s, Asia will lead the world in Artificial Intelligence, Platforms and E-Commerce. Exponential Connection and Big Data will raise challenging questions on what it means to be human in the Era of the Machine. With over 500 episodes now published, Asia Tech Podcast documents the changing face of the Asian Tech Ecosystem and a unique documentation of The Asian Century.

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