11/03/2016 - 15:55

40under40: Oh building cultural bridges

11/03/2016 - 15:55

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Esther Oh wants to deepen Australia’s economic relationship with our nearest neighbours.

CULTURAL CONNECTION: Esther Oh has years of experience doing business in Asia. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Esther Oh wants to deepen Australia’s economic relationship with our nearest neighbours. Her achievements saw her named a 40under40 winner in 2016 and a finalist for the First Amongst Equals Award.

Esther Oh says the collapse of her father’s business and a serious childhood illness were two significant events in her early life that taught her survival and success depends on mental attitude.

At age 12, she was working part time to pay bills.

Now, as managing director of AusAsia Resources, Ms Oh is using her broad experience doing business around the world to help build Australia’s trade relationship with Asia.

Ms Oh has led AusAsia for almost four years, with the company focused on management consulting.

The firm has 36 consultants, including across Australia, in Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

It is expanding in Vietnam and Cambodia, with expertise in training, planning, debt restructuring and negotiations.

Ms Oh said AusAsia’s strength was in its breadth of services.

“AusAsia is distinct from other professional services because we don’t just provide business, accounting, management, legal and restructuring advice,” Ms Oh said.

“We also mentor and equip business leaders with the knowledge, skills, resources and the right connections to start and grow their businesses successfully.”

Earlier in her career Ms Oh was chief financial officer for Ngarda Civil & Mining, and deputy director at CITIC Pacific Mining.

She’s worked in Singapore, London and Hong Kong, among other locations, and speaks five languages.

Ms Oh is also active in social media, with more than 60,000 Twitter followers and has 14,000 Facebook likes.

Ms Oh also serves on a number of boards and committees, including the governing council of Challenger Institute of Tafe, the divisional council of CPA, and the resources committee of Edith Cowan University.

She volunteers with the Scouts WA and the Royal Perth Yacht Club and is a mentor for Women in Resources Western Australia.

In her business, however, Ms Oh said she put honesty and integrity at the forefront of what she does.

“Exercising honesty, integrity and independent judgment under duress is paramount to my profession,” she said.

“Whilst honesty is speaking the truth, integrity is behaving consistently with my words and values of authenticity, courage and resilience.

“Advising on boards requires authentic leadership – standing up for what is right, asking tough questions and making unpopular decisions.”

Bridging cultures

As opportunities for trade with Asia grow, Ms Oh understands the need to ensure businesses on both sides of a transaction understood their counterparties.

Asian business people put a greater premium on trust, while those in the West were more contract focused, she said.

“My vision is to develop and export world-class WA innovation, skilled talents and services globally,” Ms Oh said.

“I know I can make a difference to those who struggle with the start-up, know-how and finance with my knowledge, skills, experience and global connections.

“I assisted many small-to-medium enterprises fund their projects, commercialise their products and expand into Asia and beyond.

“Recently, I connected an Australian institution to the Angolan government for its oil and gas workforce development programs.

“Currently, I am raising capital for an Australian Chinese-Indonesian mining joint venture.

“In the next three years, I aim to export Australian services and expertise to China and Indonesia to improve cross-cultural trade relations, and build a world-class reputation for our education, innovation, governance and entrepreneurship.”

Ms Oh said she wanted to see Australia export expertise in addition to the nation’s current focus on commodities.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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