Working in Asia

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    Franklin Po

    I just recently joined Land8 and am quite intrigued by the forum of talent found within it’s pages. Since I have been in Asia the last 17 years I have found some very good people on this side of the pond. However, with the work in Asia booming and currently projected to be even better, I m now wondering if there are some of you who might be interested in relocating to this part of the world and looking into new opportunities? If so please drop me an email at I really look forward to chatting with you to see if there are some out there who don’t mind starting a new adventure in a new location unfamiliar to you.
    Franklin Po



    I appreciate your offer to the Land8 Members, myself included. There is also a Job Board here which many of us check daily where you can list details about any opportunities you may have for employment and information about your firm and the type of candidate you’re looking for.

    Personally, I am particularly interested in what is happening in Asia in terms of development and what is fueling what appears to me to be a surge in growth and demand for things we long for here in the states like efficient and affordable mass transit.

    Also, I have taken notice lately that Chinese firms in particular seem to be targeting United States workers for potential employment. Would you say there is any specific reason for this? I have heard rumors and inuendo to suggest that American design talent is a commodity in China and abroad, particularly hand sketching and ideation. Would you say this is true?

    As a moderator on the forums here I am OK with your advertisement for job opportunities in the discussion forum, but might ask that you engage in some discussion on the culture, profession, and specific opportunities.

    I think a good, informed discussion could be mutually beneficial.


    Franklin Po

    Thanks for the response. I will certainly put into the Job Board Tierra’s request for employment opportunities. And also not use the discussion forum except to share what I may know about the status of the landscape design profession in Asia and the opportunities which can be found here.

    As for my firm Tierra, we have been working in almost all the Asian countries at one time or another: SIngapore, Malaysia,Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, India, Abu Dhabi and Oman. We have found it very challenging to wander into these countries, mostly because we learned to understand how things are done in those countries and to be particularly cognizant that they do not do things in exactly the same way as we do. However being the Asian office that we are, we understand a little bit better how to be tolerant of the pace of work done.

    There does not seem to be any slowdown in the Asian economy’s need for more jobs and better opportunities. In many countries people are flocking to the larger growth centers and population in those areas are growing. China has done the correct thing by concentrating for many years on the building of their infrastructure. In many ways I think they have looked at Singapore as the model of growth. Unlike Singapore they have deep resources to draw upon.

    India understands their need to improve their infrastructure but find it difficult to do so because their democratic form of government keeps changing and it’s hard for continuous and uninterrupted expansion in those areas as new policies come with new government.

    Thailand has a huge problem in their bifurcated populace intent on having their say; it will remain a country very much run by those who wield the most power both economically and with the support of the military.

    Vietnam is still very much communist but with new politicians and a strong military to back them. But they realise the need to grow and become more wealthy and thus more strong in the region. I am not sure what their commitment is but but new bridges are being built and existing highways improved. Their population migrates into the more vibrant cities and with it comes the need to house the new populace.

    The other ASean countries like what is happening to the economies of their neighbours and their less educated come to find work in the blue collar industries.

    Your query about China targeting U.S. talent is not something I know too much about. But it may not really be Chinese firms but foreign firms doing work in China who need good designers and skillful technical practitioners. Those who can speak Chinese would find themselves incredibly in demand. The graduates from the universities in Asia boast very talented and technically proficient students. Most can find work quickly but their pay is low. Talented graduates from the U.S may not be in as great a demand because the “local” graduates are very good. Many graduates found their way to Dubai because there was a need for them, and they were paid very well indeed. Some of these who lost their job in Dubai have found their way into the Singapore design economy.

    Design talent knows no boundaries and we can find these talents in many places. However, many firms keep looking for the especially talented because they want to make a difference for the future of their firm and are willing to invest in this exercise.

    Hand sketching is something I like very much and this is becoming a lost art. SketchUp software have made the less than good hand sketcher a proficient and talented commodity. BUT no learned skill will ever overturn the need for experienced graduates who can conceptualize and come up with great ideas! The one who can do all (hand sketch, use SKetchUP and create ideations) would have the world as their oyster! The main ingredient however still has to be the tolerance to work with a world which is very different then the one they have come from. Above all else it’s to fit into the sometimes very different world of the Asian mentality.

    I hope this helps those who are thinking of the challenge of Asia.
    Come over and have the time of your young lives! Try it, you might even like it!

    Franklin Po


    Thanks Franklin.

    I didn’t intend to scold you for using the discussion forum, but to point out that there have been several discussions started on the topic of working in Asia, so I thought it may be an opportune time for someone on the inside to demystify the scenario.

    Thanks for the candid responses. One question I would like to ask at this point is what the incentive is for a Chinese firm (or foreign firm working in China) to hire foreign workers?

    I hope some others chime in so we can take advantage of this opportunity to learn.


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