The need for medical device and MedTech firms to be as competitive in the global marketplace as possible has increased dramatically over the past twenty years. From 2007 till today, there have been significant shifts in the global market and, consequently, the recruitment and management of top talent. Asia, with 60 percent of the world’s population and a rich diversity of economic, political, and demographic constituents, is on the verge of eclipsing Europe to become the second-largest regional market1. Estimates for medical device sales in the APAC range from USD 150 Billion to USD 225 Billion by 2030 at a CAGR ranging from 4% to 7+%.2

With the rise of Artificial Intelligence, Digitization, Connected Care, and Hybrid Work environments, Asia will also be the major growth engine among global MedTech markets. Companies that are strategically savvy, agile, and the first to offer creative modes will win in the region.

Another fascinating trend in this period has been the rise of the Glocals (global locals): globally educated, experienced individuals who return to native or culturally familiar regions to assume senior leadership roles or found and lead innovative companies. This article examines the marketplace changes that have taken place macroeconomically to inspire the rise of the Glocals.

Pre – 2008
Up until 2008, firms around the world were confronted with a high demand for talented employees that far surpassed supply. This was especially acute in developing countries benefiting from strong business cycles based upon tremendous exports and increased foreign direct investment from firms in developed nations, wishing to take advantage of substantially lower costs and wages in developing countries. Major MNCs (Multinational Corporations) like Johnson and Johnson, Eli Lilly, Medtronic, and GE, to name a few, were continuing to forecast global economic growth virtually everywhere, but especially in the developing nations thanks to population trends and the burgeoning middle class.

“Talent” became a keyword in global business, and firms worked aggressively to attract top candidates and retain their current employees. They faced the challenge of needing to reduce the cost of operations, thus moving operations abroad, paying lower wages, and then having to find competent employees to staff these facilities and run high-performance teams. These challenges were dealt with through global talent management initiatives, and expat assignments became all the rage. Eminent business schools touted international leadership rotational programs to attract top individuals. Expat assignments in exotic locations with expensive relocation packages became a competitive advantage for top-tier firms.

2008 – 2015
In and after 2008, with an unprecedented global financial crisis, economic slow-down, and massive restructuring, talent development remained a critical agenda for companies. Rapid, complex, and pervasive changes took place in human resource management in terms of quality and quantity. One such change was increased, and in-depth exercises on global talent mapping and long-range talent forecasting aligned with annual strategic planning. In adherence, MNCs now focused on director-level talent and above for expat rotations. They held senior management accountable to “mentor” these individuals up or out of organizations if they didn’t perform within anticipated timelines. Those individuals selected for international roles who performed well were repatriated into more senior or, at times, C-level positions.

2015 – 2020
In 2015, despite slowed growth across the healthcare industry, market forecasts for the MedTech sector in Asia Pacific were still high. Demand for quality health care was increasing as the region continued to grow in population, contribution to global GDP, and increase in its share of global health spending3. These trends and the shift of economic power from the West to Asia saw the rise of more nationalistic policies in dominant countries like China and India.

This rising demand for healthcare services and commodities necessitated increased government funding for research and development and local manufacturing via subsidies, grants, and tax incentives. Along with stronger local regulatory oversight to ensure the quality of the increasing volume of products and additional pressure on both public and private health supply chains to be more efficient and effective4.
Visionary companies that understood these trends and their long-term impact on talent began investing and evolving into dominant regional or local clusters, i.e., China, India, and Japan verticals. This influenced the hiring trend to focus on “repatriation.” Highly educated and experienced individuals living in the US or Europe but originally from the Asia Pacific region were given ascending opportunities to relocate to APAC and run businesses in their native countries.
These policies helped organizations on multiple fronts: an innate understanding of local cultures, languages, and business customs and an intrinsic feel for where the commercial and governmental policy was heading. This set the stage for what was about to occur globally in 2020.

2020 – Present
The COVID-19 pandemic permanently changed global health care, from accelerating the adoption of new technology and care delivery models to increasing the focus on sustainability and resiliency. At the same time, it accentuated existing workforce challenges and the global disparities of health equity5. Across Asia-Pacific, it was a time of chaos and creativity. There was mass migration and mobility, stories of individuals and families facing lockdown and separation and eventually adjusting to a new geographic or work lifestyle “normal.”

At the same time, COVID taught health professionals and companies how to adapt to remote working, virtual patient care visits, and long cycle times in the delivery of medical supplies, personnel, and services. The lasting impact of COVID-19 will be one of opportunity in which the health sector reinvents itself and capitalizes on trends, such as shifting consumer preferences, changes in patient behaviors, and rapidly evolving technology and access.

In this evolution, the following industry trends are rapidly shaping MedTech’s future in Asia-Pacific6:

Healthcare providers in APAC are increasingly adopting digital technologies, including AI and cloud technologies, in their standards of care.
Care delivery is shifting from in-patient settings to day surgery and home care.
APAC markets are moving toward prevention and personalized care.
Surgical robotics will expand in response to an aging society and workforce shortages.
Government regulations are evolving to adapt to the increasing cybersecurity risks.
Global supply chain disruption has encouraged MedTech to diversify supply chains.

And it all comes down to finding the right talent.

Now more than ever, in this period of rapid change and innovation, talent remains the most significant challenge. And it truly is the time of the Glocals. Companies, recalibrating after pandemic-associated adjustments, need leaders and experts who know their native landscapes. Government policies are also changing rapidly to protect and innovate access and quality of care for their constituents.

There’s never been a more exciting pace and intersection between technology and healthcare than now, and this is the moment we witness the rise of the Glocals.