David Thomas, keynote speaker, thought leader and entrepreneur, equips business leaders with the knowledge and tools to navigate the cross-cultural challenges involved in doing business in Asia Pacific and helps them develop their own strategy for success in the region.

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My China Journey

My China Journey

Diversifying Australia

Diversifying Australia

Testimonials

Such a dynamic, engaging speaker. His keynote was very well received by our audience.…

Property Profile Group

Rated as one of the standout sessions of the program.

BT Group Licensees

The energy and clear insight that you brought to the Masterclass was a real strength.

Westpac Banking Corp

Cutting edge, insightful, highly researched and thought-provoking. A speaker with ideas…

Business Blueprint

Extremely refreshing and addressed in very straightforward and easy to understand and…

Mark Hay Realty

Loads of practical tips on how to embrace the opportunities in China. His talk was highly…

Real Estate Results

David Thomas is well known in the Asia Pacific region for his experience, credibility and passion for identifying, building and facilitating business and investment relationships between developed and emerging countries. Over the past 20 years, David has inspired, motivated and educated global business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors to pay attention to the massive growth potential offered by modern China as the financial engine of Asia and taken them on a journey to identify and build long-term business and investment relationships.

David lived in Hong Kong in the 1980s and 90s with his Father, Michael Thomas QC, who was the Attorney General for Hong Kong (1983-88) and intimately involved in the negotiations between Britain and China to design and implement the new Basic Law of Hong Kong to take effect from 1997. In addition, his step- mother, Baroness Lydia Dunn, was a senior political leader in Hong Kong and worked with Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher to negotiate the future of Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty post 1997. These unique insights and high level family connections provided David with a fascinating perspective on China’s ambitions for the future which prompted his first visit to Beijing in 1989 and a life-long interest in China’s role on the global stage.

Based in Sydney, David is a Keynote Speaker and Thought Leader on Australia’s role in the Asian Century, and the author of two books and over 500 blogs on the topic of doing business in China.

Speaking Topics

Diversity

We live in the Asian Century and western organisations face unique challenges, threats and opportunities. With the flow of people, capital and resources from China, India and South East Asia into every corner of our society, now is the time for dynamic, progressive and ambitious organisations to embrace the benefits of diversification, which include:

  • Boosting creativity, diversity and innovation – fresh perspectives lead to fresh ideas which leads to new revenue streams
  • Doing business with Asia – presenting a multicultural 'face' to marketing, sales and client relationships
  • Increasing productivity and profitability – organisations with cultures that promote diversity, inclusion and collaboration get better results

Past speaking engagements include:

  • Our place in the Asian Century – past, present and future – opportunities, challenges, risks
  • How multi-national organisations have achieved success in Asia via diversification – case studies, anecdotes and stories
  • The challenges of implementing diversification in the workplace – on the organisation, team and leadership levels

Leadership

Whilst IQ, and more recently EQ, were once regarded as the highest and most sought after qualities of leaders in western organisations, future leaders will be selected and judged by their levels of "CQ" i.e "Cultural Intelligence", including their ability and aptitude for managing teams from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, overseeing cross-cultural communications, and handling cross-border negotiations and transactions. Very few of these skills are taught in western educational institutions and much of this has to be learnt from experience, trial and error, and listening to those who have done it all before.

Examples of keynote topics:

  • Three Cups of Tea – a 3 step process to building trusted relationships in Asia
  • From IQ to EQ to CQ – why all leaders need to develop 'Cultural Intelligence' (CQ)
  • The Cultural Mirror – practical steps to cross-cultural communications, negotiation and transactions

Past speaking engagements include:

  • Property Profile Group Asia Day – Developing an Asian mindset
  • William Grants & Sons, UK – Bringing China to You
  • Real Estate Results Network – Three Cups of Tea
  • First National Annual Conference – Doing business with Asians
  • Louis Vuitton – How to sell luxury products to high net worth Asians

Innovation

Once known for its fake handbags, copy watches and pirate software, China is now leading the world in science, technology and innovation. Chinese brands like Huawei, Alibaba, Lenovo, Haier and Tencent are disrupting traditional industries (notably retail, e-commerce and IT) by leveraging their access to over 400m middle-class consumers, spending billions in R&D and launching new products and services on a scale previously unheard of. China's 'Made in China 2025' plan is intended to completely transform their manufacturing industry with a focus on clean energy, healthcare and communications, and China's ambition is to lead the world in new industries such as renewable energy, driverless and battery operated vehicles and advanced medical products.

Examples of keynote topics:

  • Innovation in the Asian Century – how China is transforming an industry near you
  • From Shanzhai to Shanghai – how China leapt from imitation to innovation
  • Bringing China to You – how to do business with China without leaving home

Past speaking engagements include:

  • Thiess Directors Conference – The Future of the Mining Industry
  • Magnitude Principals Forum – The Future of the Financial Services Industry
  • Australia China Young Professionals – Booms Bust and Baozi, the future of finance in China
  • MSI Regional Conference – The Future of the Legal Industry
  • CPA Australia – The Future of the Accounting Industry

Future Trends

We live in the Asian Century, with China as the growth engine, and the next 50 years will see many industries disrupted by Chinese consumerism, innovation and ambition. Many services industries, including healthcare, retail, luxury, travel, education and food have already been impacted by the rise of China's middle class, together with the Government's massive investment in innovation, e-commerce, 5G and AI. In the past decade, China has been transformed from an export-led economy to one which is now almost totally driven by domestic consumption, and this has created opportunities for business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors to profit from the rise of the world's fastest growing economy.

However, following the global economic disruption caused by Covid-19, and the increasing political tensions between China and the West, the environment has fundamentally changed. There are new dynamic and disruptive forces at play which are directly impacting whole industries and cross-border commerce and forcing multi-national organisations to adjust their China engagement strategy to stay one step ahead of the competition. The successful business leaders of the future will need to be flexible in navigating this challenging environment by adapting to constant change, developing a new cross-cultural mindset and paying close attention to the new emerging trends and opportunities of the future.

Examples of keynote topics:

  • China in the Asian Century– what this means for you, your industry and your business?
  • Bringing China to You – The Inbound Opportunity
  • The 8 Critical Steps to Developing your China Strategy

Past speaking engagements include:

  • Telstra Young Leaders – The future is China
  • ING Top Brokers – Bringing China to You
  • Westpac – Doing business in China and India
  • CEO Institute – The 8 critical steps to developing your China Strategy
  • The Executive Connection – China in the Asian Century

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Michael Smith was the China correspondent for The Australian Financial Review. He is currently based in Sydney.

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