These are Bartelisms - "Large," "Huge," "Solid," "In a Big Way," "I Don't Know If I Even Want To Go There."  Words, or phrases, said in a very loud and expressive manner.  

ArDerrickBartel   
 You see Derrick Bartel (above) is Shandwick's whiz kid here in Thailand, and he practices PR speak. He's the master of feel good, the bearer of buzz words, he radiates positive energy and you just know he's going to make you feel good all over.        
 
Derrick's official title is senior consultant for the Financial Services/Investor Relations Group with Shandwick, a public relations consulting firm.    
 
First a little bit about his background. In 1959, his parents immigrated to Montreal, Canada from Germany (his dad was from Hamburg, and his mom was from what was then East Prussia). Derrick's father was a Canadian immigrant success story. He started as a laborer, paid his way to get an MBA in the evening, got a job with Hoechst, the German chemical/pharmaceutical giant, found a mentor, advanced quite rapidly and eventually became the company's Chief Financial Officer (CFO).     
 
To get where he is today, Derrick took a Bachelor of Commerce Degree at Concordia University in Montreal, with a major in international business and a minor in administrative management. He got his first taste of Asia back in 1993 when he went to India and worked on a summer internship with his father, who was CFO with Hoechst India Ltd. in Bombay.
 
Being somewhere else always intrigued Derrick. All of his relatives live in Europe, and he has traveled extensively throughout that continent. So from a professional standpoint he was looking to go abroad when he graduated from university. The opportunity presented itself with an institution based in Montreal called LaSalle College International, which has several campuses right across Asia and is headquarted in Singapore. LaSalle had an opening in its sales and marketing division to raise awareness and promote its various programs throughout Malaysia in an attempt to increase enrollment figures, and Derrick would be based out of Kuala Lumpur. He says the financial benefits were not tremendous, but it was an interesting and unique opportunity to go abroad.     
 
10 June 95 was Derrick's touchdown date in Kuala Lumpur, and he remained in that city until the end of February 1998. Being a recruitment type position, it involved a fair amount of travel on both peninsular and East Malaysia, and Derrick attended many educational fairs. He says, "There was substantial interest in the institution. I had to conduct a lot of interviews, and I met many people. The parents are so heavily involved in these types of decisions, that sometimes I'd meet entire families - primarily wealthy Chinese who were looking to send their children to quality institutions abroad. A catalyst for this is that there is tremendous favoritism displayed towards ethnic Malays in the Malaysian educational system, so it becomes almost imperative for the Chinese to send their children abroad to obtain higher education.               
 
"My major ambition back then was to come to Asia, and work in this fascinating and dynamic environment. At that time, the Asian economic miracle was still in full force, Malaysia was enjoying almost double digit economic growth, unemployment was non-existent and consumer spending was strong.
 
Commenting on why there hasn't been more animosity displayed towards the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, Derrick says, "It's simply a numbers game," Derrick says. "Indonesia has 205 million people with a five percent ethnic Chinese population, who until recently dominated more than 80% of the nation's economy. In contrast, Malaysia has about 21 million and an ethnic Chinese population of about thirty percent. You just don't have the comparable figures in terms of population percentage versus economic influence.
 
"But also, great favoritism has been shown in politics, education and business - right across the board - to the bumiputras (ethnic Malays). In 1970, Malaysia initiated a New Economic Policy in a concerted effort to redistribute the country's wealth more effectively to the Malays. This stemmed from bloody race riots in the late 60s that resulted in a number of deaths. This new policy tried to redistribute the wealth so that the Chinese would not control the country economically. Malays were given ownership of many prominent companies, they were given x amount of seats on the board of directors of many high-profile companies, etc.
 
"The objective was to create a new class of Malay business leaders and entrepreneurs to lead the country forward. The majority of these policies, which we would consider blatantly discriminatory, are still in place today."           
 
After his contract with LaSalle expired, Derrick took a few  weeks off, traveled around Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia, did some soul searching, and did an assessment of what he wanted to do. He decided to stay in Asia and pursue public relations consulting and he began working for an Asian consulting company in June of 1996 called MDK Consultants which was started by Michael De Kretser in Singapore back in the mid 80s.
 
While with MDK, he had a number of interesting and diverse clients, including Hennessy cognac. An alcoholic product in a Muslim country? As Derrick says, the work provided him with many interesting communications challenges. He had to build the brand and promote the cognac in a very subtle way. "It was Chinese-specific," he says "You can't generate any publicity or brand awareness from the mainstream Malaysian press on alcoholic products."         
 
Hewlett Packard was another one of Derrick's clients. The company, globally and in individual markets, was trying to move from strictly being viewed as a printer company into the PC market with their new computer - the HP Pavilion. "HP had huge market potential, a strong and well-recognized brand, and an enormous opportunity to generate sales, so this campaign was a major thrust for them because they were in a real dogfight in the small-margin Malaysian computer market," says Derrick.          
 
In April of 97, an opportunity arose for Derrick to go work with Shandwick, a London based company with offices and affiliates throughout the world. It was then the largest independent public relations consulting firm in the world (in October of 1998, the New York-based Interpublic Group of Companies - IPG - acquired Shandwick in a US$158 million deal).
 
Why did Derrick decide to switch firms: "It was financially rewarding, the Shandwick name is universally recognized as a reputable firm, I found the client base was interesting, and I wanted to work within a global network."
 
Derrick also knew several of his clients were going to be financial services related companies and being from a business background this appealed to him. "Two of my customers were with one of Malaysia's leading banking groups, Southern Bank Berhard - their Unit Trust Division, and their Direct Access Division (provider of direct banker services, including on-line capabilities)."  
 
Derrick also worked on an ongoing retainer basis with MasterCard when the company was the official sponsor of the Youth World Cup held last year in Kuala Lumpur. It's the most significant youth soccer event in the world. Derrick, being the social animal that he is, has met many important people in his life, but none more so than legendary Brazilian striker Pele, who is a key global spokesperson for MasterCard. "We brought him to KL for the tournament and arranged a series of targeted media activities with him. We also set up a coaching clinic with Pele and the young kids."  
 
Mr Bartel, an avid soccer fan and player, had a chance to meet and talk with Pele at length during that tourney: "What struck me most was his passion for the game. He talks about the game constantly, and how it can and should be improved. He's very warm and friendly and he's terrific with kids. It's amazing how the superstar athletes like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson and Pele have these winning smiles that glow and radiate and just light up kid's faces."     
 
Derrick arrived in Bangkok in March of 1998. He was looking for something different, a new opportunity. "Malaysia and Thailand are like night and day," he says. "They are completely different environments all around, whether it be political, economic, social, or cultural aspects. The assimilation of the Chinese into the Thai society is a very different dynamic, as every one has become Thai essentially.
 
"Whereas, you still have a very distinct and visible racial breakdown in Malaysia (approx. 10% Indian, 30% Chinese, and 60% Malay), but they do co-exist happily and peacefully. The favoritism given to the Malays is pretty alarming but the Chinese are so industrious and they have carved out a sizable business niche for themselves. Having had numerous  Chinese colleagues and friends in Malaysia, I know they are also relatively apolitical, despite the bias shown towards the ethnic Malays. They feel no need to complain about a lack of fairness in the system because things have been so comfortable for so long. Of course, recent political and economic developments may change the rules of the game.      
 
"You also have much greater freedom of expression in Thailand. If I were wearing an anti-Mahitir button in front of the Canadian embassy in KL, I could theoretically be unceremoniously cuffed, carried away and held under the Internal Security Act for an indefinite period of time. You are not allowed to hold public political gatherings of more than three people in the country without ministerial permission, as ludicrous as that may sound."
What does the future hold for Malaysia? "I believe the capital control measures recently implemented will prove to be a setback for the Malaysian economy in the mid-to-long term, although they may provide some initial success. The political system is so institutionalized and backwards that major reform is required. Unfortunately, you have Dr M desperate to retain power and control. He also happens to be a ruthless, razor-sharp politician who will swiftly crush any opposition or dissent. We've obviously seen this to be true in the Anwar case. Though there is increased political consciousness and grassroots support for the `reformasi' movement, I think Mahitir will ultimately decide a behind-the-scenes guilty verdict and Anwar may gradually disappear from the political arena.          
 
One of the reasons that Derrick came to Bangkok was that  Shandwick was appointed to work in a consulting capacity with the Financial Sector Restructuring Authority (FRA). "It's a huge project of massive importance which was one of the critical starting points in turning the Thai economy around and regaining investor confidence. Across Asia, if you had to point to one systemic weakness in these economies - it would clearly be the banking and finance sector. Thailand probably took the first major step in the hurdle to rectify this problem when on 8 Dec 97 the government made the decision to shut down 56 finance companies and subsequently liquidate their assets."
 
One of Shandwick's clients just happens to be Pfizer, who are  the manufacturers of Viagra. Derrick recalls: "It's kind of funny, actually. Back in early March, we put together the pitch for Viagra and there wasn't any media coverage at all. My boss and I were amused when we saw the brief - a pill for erectile dysfunction. Again, this posed an interesting challenge as Thailand is a very traditional society, and sex or sexual function is not openly discussed.   
 
"At the time, we didn't believe Pfizer was going be a major client but shortly after we delivered our presentation, they appointed us to work with them and immediately thereafter the floodgates opened in the US - on March 27 the US FDA approved Viagra, and you saw all the media coverage: The Wall Street Journal, the wire services, the front page of Time and Newsweek. It was mass media bombardment. It has probably been the most successful drug launched in the history of the pharmaceutical industry. Sales went through the roof in the first three months. It has turned out to be a sizable job for us with crisis communications playing a critical role. The Thai FDA has been very cautious and diligent in awarding regulatory approval, so we've had to play it carefully. The FDA has also stipulated that Pfizer must embark upon a comprehensive education and information campaign, both for doctors and the general public."      
 
Shandwick is also currently serving as a strategic advisor to the Ministry of Finance on the government's privatization of state-owned enterprises. Derrick believes that privatization can play a huge role in kick-starting the Thai economy. "The public sector here is so bloated and inefficient," he says "and greater private sector participation is critical to Thailand's future competitiveness in the global economy. It will certainly be a key driver for the economy, attracting foreign funds to the energy, telecom, transportation, water and other sectors.  
 
"Public sector employees are quite naturally worried about losing their jobs but if you look at the case history of privatization around the world it shows that over the long-term, privatization actually creates more jobs than it eliminates. In the long run, you attain greater efficiency, and most importantly lower costs and better services for the consumer. You enjoy optimal value for the money and you are able to obtain cheaper electricity or improved telecom service at a lower price. It's become a race across Asia - South Korea is looking at a major privatization plan, China has such a bloated state sector, Indonesia is implementing a plan to stimulate greater private sector involvement - and these are all attractive investments, so it's essentially a race to the finish line. If Thailand pushes this through more quickly, it will stimulate the flow of funds and boost liquidity, which will contribute substantially to economic revival. The political will to do this and the many vested interests are major stumbling blocks though."          
 
According to Derrick, what makes public relations work most effective?: "When the client allows the public relations firm to work and operate as an extension of their marketing/corporate communications department; in my mind, teamwork and close collaboration can deliver results that impact bottom-line performance."      
 
What has Derrick learned while working here? "I think one major strength that I've gained here is the ability to communicate and connect with people. I've become a better listener and I now appreciate the intricacies of non-verbal communication. On certain occasions, I've been in a meeting that's entirely in Thai and just by non-verbal communication and hand movements I can comprehend the gist of what's going on. You develop an acute awareness of what people are saying, and that's a very valuable skill to possess in both a business and social context."
 
Future plans: "The Derrick Bartel master plan is to go back and pursue an MBA at a top North American business school. Following graduation, I'll likely look to a career in  management consulting with a leading global firm. In terms of position, I will seek to be an emerging markets specialist - so I certainly see myself back in Asia, in the near future."       
 
What does Derrick miss about Canada? "I still think of Canada as my home, but I feel rather disconnected from it. I miss the bagels and smoked meat of my hometown. I miss the trendiness of Montreal, it's a hip town. I also miss the many festivals including the jazz festival because I'm a big blues fan - I love B.B. King and Buddy Guy. Perhaps, most of all, I miss the beloved Montreal Canadiens, hockey's most glorious franchise and the most successful team in the history of professional sport.
 
"But I feel so disillusioned with the political scene there. When you live in Quebec, everyday you are bombarded with the separatist issue, you become jaded. I'm actually happy, I'm out of that environment - I don't have to constantly hear the difficulties. But sadly, I think a lot of the young anglo-community in Montreal are flying the coop. Many of them, my friends included, have gone to work in Toronto, or they have gone out West to the "promised land" in Vancouver. So the separatists, although they lost the battle in the recent referendum, seem to be slowly winning the war.
 
"What are the over-all benefits of separation? Do a cost benefit analysis, pros and cons: It simply doesn't add up, it doesn't make business sense for Quebec to become an entity of its own. It's not a viable argument to say that business-wise things will improve. I have a hard time swallowing it. I feel passionate about Montreal and everything it has to offer - it's a wonderful place to grow up.   
 
"I find it shocking and almost incomprehensible that in an era of globalism and increased unification, characterized by the free flow of people, capital, goods, etc. (The EU is an obvious example) that Canada continues to be on this fragemented course. Unfortunately, I'm not overly optimistic about the prospects for Quebec as we move into the next millennium."
 
Hang around Derrick for any length of time, and you start to believe that the world isn't such a bad place. You also end up talking like him, you can't help it - you see it's contagious. As I left, I said, "After some initial concern over whether I EVEN WANTED TO GO THERE OR NOT, that was a SOLID meeting, where we covered a HUGE array of topics, went over a LARGE amount of ground, and cleared up the confusion IN A BIG WAY." Touche, Bartel.
 
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