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Guest column: Are you tapping the Asian market?

Jie “Jay” Zheng //July 1, 2009//

Guest column: Are you tapping the Asian market?

Jie “Jay” Zheng //July 1, 2009//

By 2010, India will surpass Japan in purchasing power, according to a recent Morgan Stanley research report. By 2020, China will surpass the U.S. in purchasing power. And, most startling, by 2041, China will become the world’s largest economy. As astute business people, it’s critical we recognize the importance of the emerging Asian market in the global economy.

How can we effectively tap the Asian market and also develop new U.S. markets? We need culturally sensitive professionals who understand Asian cultures and business operations if American businesses are to be successful in these growing markets.

A key to American success in the Asian market is connecting with Asian-American professionals, the youngest, fastest-growing and best-educated work force in the U.S. This is why “Leadership at New Heights: Cultivating Leaders for Today and Beyond” is the theme of the 2009 National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) Convention coming to Denver in August.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Asians currently comprise only 5 percent of the U.S. population, but Asian-American populations will grow more than 200 percent by 2050. An impressive 48.4 percent of Asians hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Moreover, Asians comprise 15 percent of the Ph.D.s in engineering and 13 percent in computer science. Asian-Americans are also close to their countries of origin. In Colorado, for example, more than 70 percent of Asian-Americans are first-generation. 

Increasingly the term “diversity and inclusion” has expanded to talent development and multicultural marketing, in addition to supplier diversity, on a worldwide basis. The global economy requires a new approach to the talent development and diversity recruiting, including promoting and leveraging Asian-American talent and leadership as facilitators for market growth and sustainability.

“The next generation of global leaders will cross different cultures and societies with sensitivity, understanding and appreciation of the people and practices within,” according to the CEO panel at the 2006 Asian Leadership Conference. “Those companies who ‘get it’ will have a greater success rate than those who don’t.”

Moreover, the Asian-American market is an important segment with great business-to-business and business-to-consumer growth potential.  In 2002, Asian-Americans owned 27 percent of all minority-owned business in the U.S.  In 2006, the median Asian household income was more than $64,200, which was $14,000 higher than any other race group. Between the years of 1990 to 2011, Asian purchasing power is expected to grow by 434 percent. 

Colorado is a microcosm of the U.S. The number of Asians in Colorado grew 27.3 percent from 98,768 to 125,724 in the period 2000 to 2006 and accounts for 2.7 percent of the state’s population, according to the 2007 U.S. Census.

As the Asian-American population continues to be an increasingly important part of the American cultural fabric and more U.S.-born Asian-Americans graduate from college to enter the work force, many will be able to leverage their multicultural background as a business asset, which in turn will benefit their careers in the global economy. Additionally, many seasoned Asian-American professionals have shared their experience in breaking the “bamboo ceiling,” understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a multicultural background and sharing their strong desire to be integrated with the society. 

At the center of the Asian-American professional community is the National Association of Asian American Professionals Colorado Chapter, a 501(c)(3) organization. The Colorado chapter is part of the NAAAP national network that has been in existence for more than two decades and is recognized by corporations throughout North America.

NAAAP’s vision is “We Make Leaders.” NAAAP Colorado does this by collaborating with organizations and individuals sharing a common interest and desire to ACT (Asians Coming Together) by offering leadership development programs, professional networking and community services.

Colorado will be hosting the 23rd annual NAAAP National Convention at the Denver Hyatt Regency Aug. 13-15.  For more information about the conference or NAAAP Colorado, go to or e-mail Jie “Jay” Zheng at [email protected].

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