As the first instalment of our special agreement with the Global Association Hubs Partnership (GAHP), an alliance resulting from the innovative response to the increasing decentralization of international associations, Boardroom met with ESTRO’s CEO Alessandro Cortese and newly appointed Managing Director of Innovation, Sven Bossu, to discuss the growth strategy of a European organisation in Asia. ESTRO, theEuropean SocieTy for Radiotherapy and Oncology, has developed close ties with Singapore, a destination that was quick and efficient in understanding the association’s needs and overall mission.
Globalization has had a powerful impact on professional societies of all varieties, requiring many associations to seek field information in foreign nations. For associations that have an eye on global expansion, it is highly likely that market potential and market share will vary widely from country to country and from region to region.
Alessandro Cortese explains that ESTRO is a medical, niche society dealing with radiotherapy, whose members are all clinicians and professionals involved in the field of oncology. “As we grew,we’ve realised that our main mission – the education of our members and scientific dissemination – has no real boundaries, even if the other side of it is more political, such as the advancement of radiation oncology, which is clearly for us Europe-focused,”he explains.
Over the past five years, the demand for ESTRO products from Asia Pacific (in terms of congresses and education) grew to about 25 percent. Today, a staggering fifth of the society’s revenue comes from that region. Obviously what ESTRO does works for the needs of radiation oncologists from Europe—and from Asia Pacific in particular. It’s that type of regional growth that had to be officially addressed.
Alessandro explains: “The number of classes we offer in Asia has been steadily growing for some years, with about 1,000 Asian (and Australian) radiation oncology professionals attending ESTRO activities per year. When we met with the national societies in Asia Pacific, we realised that the demand for additional courses was even greater. However, there was a need for us to find the right scalability; we could not just increase the number of our products and, in a way, create our own competition.”
ESTRO progressively started to test some ideas with a holistic approach. Associations are made of people, and the moment you start involving people from a region, it’s an open door for change. As you bring new ideas, you discover new cultures and new needs in a process that touches on the culture of a society itself.