International leadership

Hardeep Kang recently returned from 6 months as Managing Director of DFE Pharma India. She joins us for a guest blog this week, reflecting on her experiences and the wider impact of working with diversity.


Leading a business in India on a 6 month assignment, as a woman, a 4th generation New Zealander coming from a rural upbringing and minority culture within NZ, to leading a change in the biggest democracy in the world, residing in fast paced Bangalore and reporting through to a European based corporate office, providing product solutions both domestically and to the rest of the world, travelling over continents on a regular basis, surrounded by millions of people and interacting over multiple cultures, socio economic groups…this is a perfect opportunity to share a discussion around diversity for New Zealanders working in an International context.

It’s important to take the time to understand the norms and traditions of the workforce, people and environment you are leading no matter where you are in the world. . When our lens on business thinking and leadership expands we can be more globally relevant and encompassing of all people, because we start to see life through others eyes. I believe it is possible to mix the different lens of thinking and styles to get solutions that cross over different cultures As our NZ population continues to change over the coming decades we have great opportunity to embrace diversity to help us leverage and be relevant in the wider world.

I felt the world became a smaller place as I grappled with the best ways to lead the business in an environment unfamiliar to my own context. I couldn’t isolate myself from those differences because I was right in the middle of them and I was the conductor gluing everyone together over different states and continents.

A New Zealander can be well placed leading in an International context. With our exports and geographic positioning we have to understand the wider world to successfully grow beyond our shores. But how well do we embrace that diversity and understanding within our own shores? My personal view in leadership is differences matter. These differences can be used to leverage more effective solutions for challenges we may have, including everything from how to lead within NZ business to how to engage with an international market.

My challenge back to NZ is have we tailored our leadership programs to adjust to the changing world we lead in, even in NZ? Do our leader’s reflect and mirror the communities and markets we are operating in?

We may be a small country but we can have a big voice and we can make a difference in the world for business and communities through our leadership and embracing diversity as a component of business that helps make a difference.