By enhancing their team with knowledge, capability and connections, we work with them to deliver their China opportunity whilst managing risk effectively.

Our Team

James Richards - Global Chairman

James was Group Director for China at De La Rue plc from 2010-2013. From 1996-2010, he worked for Rolls-Royce plc, firstly as Director responsible for China, and later as Director of EU Relations and, concurrently, Advisor to the Chief Executive on China. From 1969-1996 James served in HM Diplomatic Service (in posts including Hong Kong, Beijing, Geneva and Brussels). From 1977-1980 he was official Chinese interpreter for HM The Queen, Margaret Thatcher and other British leaders. James is the chairman of the China Association

Oliver Shiell - Founder

Oliver founded Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (Europe) in 2011. CKGSB is China’s leading business school established by Asia’s wealthiest man, Li ka shing. CKGSB's alumni manage a portfolio of businesses that generate 17% of China's GDP. Previous roles include CEO of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Foundation and Director of Corporate Relations at Said Business School, Oxford University. Oliver served as Associate Director of the University's 1.25 billion campaign. Board experience includes London Symphony Orchestra, Social Bite and the China-Britain Business Council.

Andrew Cainey - Co-Founder

Andrew Cainey has 30 years’ experience advising companies and governments on China. Previous positions include Managing Partner of Booz & Company’s Greater China operations, Partner-in-charge for Asia with Tony Blair Associates and Partner leading the Asia-Pacific Financial Institutions Practice of Boston Consulting Group. He is Associate Fellow at Chatham House and a Founding Fellow of the Hong Kong Institution for International Finance. A graduate of Harvard Business School and Cambridge University Andrew speaks French, German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

Ismet Omer Oztanik - Chairman, Turkey

Ismet is Founder and Vice Chairman of the Avantgarde Collection in Turkey. A seasoned entrepreneur with investments spanning Business Services, Hospitality and Technology sectors, Ismet’s experience includes Chairman of Educhos, Executive Chairman, Soluto Tesis Yönetimi A.Ş., Vice Chairman of Lucis Initiative and Vice Chairman of Ozmetal Steel Trading and Warehousing. A graduate of Cass Business School, London and Koç Üniversitesi, Ismet is fluent in Turkish and English and lives in Istanbul and London.

Lord Oxmantown - Chairman, Ireland

Patrick’s family have a 100 year history with China. His grandfather visited in the 1920s followed by his grand uncle in 1935. Patrick first visited in 1992 to learn Mandarin and develop his career in real estate, spending over 15 years as one of the first western developers in Beijing. Patrick met his wife, Anna Lin, in China and they have a daughter and son who are both bilingual. Patrick served as the Olympic Attache for the Irish Team in 2008 and he and his family continue to work on enhancing Chinese relations and understanding in the UK and Ireland.

Matthew Eades - Director

Matthew brings over 20 years of senior experience across international blue chip and public sector organisations. Formerly Head of Human Resources for the Atomic Weapons Establishment (UK) Matthew has led HR strategy for UK government agencies in the Middle East and change and transformation programmes in the UK Civil Service. Matthew has a strong track record in cultural integration and developing organisational capability to successfully deliver organisational outcomes in a dynamic global market.

Mei Shui - Senior Partner

Mei was the CEO of Virgin StartUp from 2012 until August 2018, a Virgin company she set up in late 2013 following the request made by Sir Richard Branson. From 2006-2012 Mei managed international relations supporting the UK’s operations during Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games and subsequently as Head of Protocol for London 2012. From 2002-2006, Mei was Head of Enterprise of The Prince’s Trust. Mei is Chair of China Exchange which opened by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales and established by the late Sir David Tang. Mei is a native Chinese speaker with has MBA from Imperial College.

Mingqiu Qian - Manager, China

Michelle is the CEO of Nantong Beixing Property Development Ltd, a company focuses on investing in real estate both in China and oversea. The company invests in commercial, residential and industrial lands in Nantong, Shanghai and London and has their own property management team to look after the properties. She read Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial College London from 2009-2013 and worked in the banking, private equity sectors before she joined the family business in 2016.

Luke Purser - Senior Associate

Luke has 20 years experience in fundraising and business development. He has an in-depth understanding of the needs and motivations of high-net-worth individuals, philanthropists and investors. He has held senior roles at University of Oxford, the Royal College of Art and English Heritage and has developed and implemented international development strategies, recruited and trained staff and senior volunteers and raised in excess of £100m. Luke works as senior business consultant for Fast Track 100.

Felicia Schwartz - Senior Associate

Felicia has had an international career in branding and communications with Ogilvy and Dentsu in Austria, France, U.S. and China where she spent 13 years in strategic planning and consumer insights. Felicia excels at helping companies understand the Chinese consumer through research and cross-cultural executive education. She has worked extensively with HR teams delivering global mobility workshops. Her sector experience includes automobile, luxury, cosmetics, retail and FMCG. She is fluent in German, English, French and Mandarin Chinese.

Dr. Sara Ward - Senior Associate

Sara has over 20 years experience in strategy, performance and implementation and has worked successfully with business development professionals in London and Oxford. A research scientist by training, she brings an aptitude for analysis and a real appreciation of evidence based policy. Sara has an unusual ability to focus on Board priorities as well as operational details. She has a deep understanding of complex, knowledge intensive contexts where resources are scarce and decision making dispersed.

In a recent Asiability study, 92% of Chinese executives who spoke English as a second language failed to accurately translate the Children's story "Mr. Muddle" by Roger Hargreaves.

"The word of the boss is law. No-one questions that"

"We don't need to play by foreign rules. We are in China and we do things the Chinese way. Foreign companies need to understand that"

KPMG Study, 2012

Coaching is key

Within 1 hour you forget 50% of what you learn.

Research on the forgetting curve (Figure 1) shows that, on average, people forget 50% of learning within 1 hour. Within 24 hours, they will have forgotten 70% and, within one week, 90% of new knowledge.

Chinese whispers

Western teams often communicate key messages to their Chinese counterparts using western language, not understanding that their counterpart's translators are often under immense pressure to only convey messages their Chinese bosses want to hear.

Coaching and Executive Training

To make deals and cross-border collaborations work over time, your business will require employees in many different functions to have a closer understanding of their Chinese customers and counterparts. Asiability's founding team have unparalleled experience, teaching senior executives at Oxford University and Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (Beijing).

Research and Translation Services

With access to our team of over 50 business researchers in China, Asiability research services delivers business intelligence that informs your decision making. Whether you are interested in the identification of customers or potential business partners, or due diligence reports, Asiability's fully Chinese team utilises on-line and off-line research methods to deliver accurate and evidence based information.

Negotiation and Sales

Working as an integral part of your business development team, our bi-lingual negotiators and business development professionals will augment your capacity and capability to progress prospect pipelines and close deals.

"Never underestimate the role of the trusted intermediary within the team. It's how General Motors wrested SAIC away from Ford in the final rounds of negotiation"

Elizabeth Neidel

Exploring options

The Western approach to ‘exploration’ is characterised by direct action, while the Chinese approach continues to be influenced by careful consideration.

Westerners are generally impatient to explore creative solutions that emerge from interest based discussion seeking to unpack suggestions on the spot.

The Chinese generally respond negatively to what they consider to be attempts to control the agenda in unexpected ways. The Chinese will want to take suggestions away for consideration, requiring time to create in-group solutions – and expect to re-introduce such proposals to the negotiating table when they are agreed internally.

Two worlds collide

If you want to understand how important it is to bridge cultural differences - next time you meet a customer from your own background refuse to shake hands.

The omission of such a simple social ritual will immediately undermine trust and relationships.

The five-fundamental contrasting West/East perspectives include:

  • Individualism and collectivism
  • High and low power distance
  • Low and high uncertainty avoidance
  • Direct and indirect style of engagement
  • Short and long-term temporal perspective

Chinese often perceive Westerners as uncomfortably individualistic, direct. impetuous, impatient and short-term.

5 Practical suggestions

Negotiators who prepare carefully from their own perspective and from that of the counterparty more than double their chances of success.

It is suggested that Western negotiators can better prepare for their Eastern counterparts in the following ways:

  1. Be prepared to present issues broadly and not rush into detail
  2. Regard time spent on exploring the big picture at the outset as a positive
  3. Regard positions or offers as opportunities for discussion rather than debate or challenge
  4. Recognise the need of the Chinese counterparty to consult and take time
  5. Prepare for a slow change in positions rather than rapid trade¬offs at the negotiating table

Strategic Partners


HAV are the world leaders in hybrid aircraft – these combine lighter-than-air technology with the best of aeroplanes and helicopters to bring brand new capabilities to aircraft. They produce less noise, less pollution, have a lower carbon footprint, longer endurance and better cargo-carrying capacity than virtually any other flying vehicle.

"The team at Asiability have delivered first class knowledge, networks and advice to Hybrid Air Vehicles as we have begun to address the opportunities offered by China. They have been responsive to our needs, flexible and prompt. And, it is important to say, they are fun to work alongside."
Stephen McGlennan, CEO

At Battersea Power Station you will find emphasis on collaborative work spaces, shared social and hospitality facilities with outdoor open spaces and great connectivity in a zone 1 location.

“London is the creative capital of the world and we must do more to ensure that creative people, technology, media and telecommunications companies remain at its centre. We are thrilled to be working with Asiability to strengthen our relationships and connectivity with friends across all of China”.
Rob Tincknell, CEO of Battersea Power Station

Ditchley Foundation

The Ditchley Foundation brings together leading practitioners and experts from around the world to help shape policy on the major international issues of the day. Its unique blend of intellectual rigour, informality and discretion, in a glorious rural setting, promotes new understanding, fresh thinking, and better decision-making.

“Ollie and his partners are helping Ditchley on fundraising strategy. He has excellent contacts and innovative ideas and I am sure a discussion would be helpful to you.”.
James Arroyo OBE, Director Ditchley Foundation

The Hunter Foundation (THF) is a proactive venture philanthropy that seeks to invest in determining model solutions, in partnership with others, to troubling systemic issues relating to poverty eradication and educational enablement.

To date THF has invested circa £50m for the common good and over time we hope to invest a good deal more.

Our Office

Asiability Ltd

3rd Floor

12 Gough Square