China has come of age in that it has mature enough talent to find qualified Shanghai Based Asia Directors. Before companies would seek Asia Directors in Singapore or Hong Kong or even Tokyo.
It has been 10 years since the first Asia Director, but now it seems China is the go to spot. The strength of the Chinese economy over time has given hiring managers the push to hire here and not elsewhere.
Western companies have hired country managers for China, but Asia managers is something more. To me a key difference is Asia managers have to be more comfortable with their own skin. All management hires need this, but the stress on this question is clearly much higher at the Asia Director level. They must not prove themselves in each iteration. They are comfortable and have enough EQ to carry the day even cross culturally.
Yes, they need to know the market and have connections. Sure, they need to know your industry, but these other isses are key actually.
Shanghai Based Asia Directors Need A Lot
The mature managers are so valuable anywhere but irreplaceable at Asia Director. The right hire will carry themselves well with people high and low
I have dealt with Asia Directors who are fools, and it is a huge loss to the companies who have employed them. I wonder how these companies came to hire them. There are others who lack the above named ability to be comfortable with themselves. Now lets touch another key point.
Asia directors need to have very high-level leadership ability as they need to lead people from outside China as well as inside. Outside China is a cross cultural challenge that trips up many country managers at the Asia Director level. Each country here in East and Southeast Asia has it own issues and a strong leader can dig and learn each sub-leader in different countries in a way to make the whole successful. For point of caution see Wrong Leader Wrong Method Example. See also Amazing Shanghai Tricky Shanghai.