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Asia Leadership Trek Summer 2017 Off to a Great Start!

Fifteen scholars from the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, MIT Sloan of Management, Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management participated in the Asia Leadership Trek IX (Summer 2017) or ALT 2017, which took them to seven cities in five countries across Asia. Held from May 28 to June 17, 2017, the Trekkers visited Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Dhaka to develop a greater understanding of the region.

With the theme “Vision and Value Creation: Charting the Path to Tomorrow’s Asia,” the three-week study and service program enables the participants or Trekkers an exclusive access to engage with key opinion leaders in government, business and local social enterprises.

Organized by the Center for Asia Leadership (CAL), the ALT 2017 provided the Trekkers with an avenue to gain firsthand accounts and insights into the challenges and opportunities impacting Asia. Through the ALT 2017, Trekkers will acquire a better understanding of Asia as well as explore current and emerging trends in fundamental political, economic and social forces that shape the fastest growing region in the world.

The ALT 2017’s first stop was Manila, Philippines where the Trekkers visited the Lopez Museum and Library in the morning of May 29, 2017 to learn about the country’s rich history and culture. The Trekkers later met with Su Chin Teoh, Country Specialist of the Asian Development Bank to gain a better understanding of the bank’s role in fostering economic growth in the Philippines. They then proceeded to meet Dr. Edgardo Rodriguez, President of Enderun Colleges and Dean of the College of Business, Technology and Entrepreneurship. He had an illustrious career as Head of the World Bank’s Corporate Budget Unit in Washington, D.C. and was part of the Special Program in Development Economics at Harvard University. During the meeting, they discussed the biggest challenges facing the Philippines and how Enderun Colleges played a part in addressing some of those challenges. The Trekkers ended the day with dinner with the Harvard Club of the Philippines at Aracama Restaurant and Lounge.

On May 30, 2017, the Trekkers visited McKinsey Philippines to meet with Anders Bärlund who co-leads McKinsey’s Philippines office in Manila. There, Anders spoke about the biggest challenges that local and multinational companies face in doing business in the Philippines. He also shared lessons from McKinsey Philippines in opening its offices in Manila and other emerging market landscapes with the Trekkers. After lunch, the Trekkers had a meeting with Sung Kim, the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines to discuss the States’ strategic priorities in the Philippines and the challenges in achieving these priorities, among other things. Later in the afternoon, they met with the Philippines House Speaker, Pantaleon Alvarez to discover the biggest leadership challenges facing the Philippines and how the country is preparing its citizens in the 21st century with respect to the region’s growing prosperity and its economic integration. This was followed by a hosted dinner by Filipino Congressman, Dax Cua.

The Trekkers spent their last day in the Philippines by visiting Bloomberg Philippines where they met with one of its anchors, Tony Abad who shared his perspectives on the media’s role in the Philippines country and how social media has impacted the media landscape in the country. They later exchanged ideas with Professor Victor Andres “Dindo” C. Manhit, Founder and Managing Director of the Stratbase Group and President of its policy think-tank, Albert del Rosario Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ADRi) on the future of the Philippines and what it takes to be an ethical and effective leader in the country as it faces challenges of globalization. Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Albert del Rosario was also present.

On June 1, 2017, the Trekkers continued their journey to Hong Kong and held a meeting with Lisa Lam, Head of PR & Communication of the Lan Kwai Fong Group, a dynamic multi-faceted company with projects in Hong Kong, Chengdu, Haikou and Wuxi in China, Phuket in Thailand and Los Angeles in the U.S. The meeting enabled the Trekkers to learn about the company’s success in various areas including property development, restaurants and bars, retail shopping malls, luxury residential, resort and hotel, and movie production and distribution. After lunch, they went to the Hong Kong Red Cross and learned about its role and contribution to the community.

The next morning, the Trekkers engaged with Dr. Eden Woon, Vice President for Institutional Advancement (VPIA) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The VPIA is responsible for developing and coordinating comprehensive advancement strategies for the university to enhance its positioning and image. Some of the issues highlighted included how China’s economic prosperity and rising geopolitical stature would shape power relations in Asia and its relationship with the U.S., and ways for foreign brands to be successful in China. In the afternoon, they visited the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation to meet with Albert Wong who is the corporation’s Chief Corporate Development Officer. Albert shared his thoughts on developing a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hong Kong.

The Trekkers embarked on their Shanghai adventure on June 5, 2017 and held a meeting with Richard Summers, Partner at Anomaly Shanghai to learn best practices that can be applied in today’s competitive business environment in China. The next day, they explored Huawei’s expertise in providing strategies within the information and communication technology (ICT) and digital agenda policy areas in China through a discussion with David Harmon, Vice–President for Global Public Affairs at Huawei Technologies. The Trekkers were excited to meet Gavin Lindberg, Chief Financial Officer and Vice-President of NIKE Greater China to learn more about the company’s success in China and the challenges facing the brand in competing with other businesses in the country.

The next morning, they paid a visit to the Alibaba Global Leadership Academy (AGLA) where they observed Alibaba’s success story in China and its future plans, and conducted a conference there which included a TED-style Talk entitled, “Teaching Intelligent People How to Learn” by Peter Deutscher from Harvard Kennedy School and two workshops on the topics of “Design Thinking” by Jennifer Hurford from Harvard Business School and Kennedy School and “Adapting to Change” by Peter Deutscher from the Harvard Kennedy School. They ended their last day in China by participating in a forum at Zhejiang High School whereby the Trekkers conducted seven workshops on “Entrepreneurship 101” and “How to Give an Elevator Pitch by Benedikt Groever from Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,“Networking 101” by Catherine Keane from Harvard Graduate School of Education, “Applying to U.S. Universities: Writing a Statement of Purpose” by Takuya Takeda from Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, “Bringing Your Story Alive: Connecting Your What to Your Why” by Emily Gannam, “Negotiation Tools for Everyday Situations” by Soichiro Suzuki from Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and “Tips for Picking the Right Career” by Jennifer Hurford.

Check out the second article on the ALT 2017 here as the Trekkers continue their journey to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Dhaka for the second leg of their journey!

by Ida Fazila