What this CEO learnt from walking into a meeting room in Singapore — the surprises and mistakes

Comtest CEO Peter Dwyer thought he was prepared when he entered the Singaporean meeting room expecting one or two people.

Almost a dozen showed up instead with prepared questions. 

After a workshop with Bisnis Asia, Mr Dwyer learnt this situation was the norm in Singapore. In his second meeting, he sped up his business dealings by searching for the “lead person” in the room.

“I knew that the people that I could potentially ask the questions may not be the decision-makers; they were basically the assistants of the people who make the decisions.”

Peter Dwyer, Comtest

The success he had in this meeting meant he could develop a partnership with another major electrical testing laboratory in Asia. 

While business proceedings happen quickly in Australia, in Singapore, it isn’t always as fast as you expect, he said. 

“There needs to be lots of people going through the decision.”

Even then, the differences between Asian countries remained nuanced. 

Mr Dwyer said that Singaporean businesses tend to be more direct in their meetings compared to China. 

In the field of electrical compliance testing, Singapore’s “law abiding” nature attracted Comtest Laboratories to the country. 

The Bisnis Asia workshops helped Mr Dwyer understand the cultural norms in Singapore and what to do in the meeting room to improve his outcomes.

There are massive differences across Asian markets, he said. 

“Understand the culture that you’re dealing with when you go into that culture…put on the back-burner your experiences in other countries.” 

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