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Trekkers Continue on the ALT Summer 2017

Following their successful trips to Manila, Hong Kong and China, Trekkers from the ALT 2017 headed to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to kick-start the second leg of their adventure to examine emerging trends and challenges that will shape Asia’s future.

As soon as the Trekkers arrived in Kuala Lumpur on June 8, 2017, they made their way to Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad, a leading Islamic insurance company in the country to explore the challenges and opportunities of the takaful industry in Malaysia through a briefing by Ong Le Keat, Appointed Actuary and Assistant General Manager of Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad. Dato’ Sri Mohamed Hassan Kamil, Group Chief Executive Officer of Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad later held a Q&A session with the Trekkers who were intrigued by the development of innovative Islamic financing instruments such as sukuk which have elevated the industry’s growth in Malaysia.

Samuel Kim, President and Co-founder of the Center for Asia Leadership (CAL) (front, fifth from left) presenting the Harvard parlance to Dato’ Sri Mohamed Hassan Kamil, Group Chief Executive Officer of Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad.

After lunch, the Trekkers visited Yayasan Chow Kit, a foundation that protects the rights of all at-risk children and youth by providing them with a safe haven and offering them with holistic opportunities that help them to unlock their full potential. The foundation also engages with key policymakers and leaders to improve services and recognition of children’s rights in Malaysia. The Trekkers were captivated by the words of Tini Zainudin, Founder of Yayasan Chow Kit who explained to them about the foundation’s history and its challenges and achievements since its inception in 2010. Tunku Zain Al Abidin, one of the foundation’s Trustees later joined the session to express his viewpoints on the foundation’s prospects and his vision for a better Malaysia that prioritizes children’s right to achieve their full development.

Despite the jam packed schedule, the Trekkers’ enthusiasm to gain knowledge about Malaysia was not dampened. Their next stop was Sin Chew Media Group that publishes Sin Chew Daily, one of the oldest publications in Malaysia and the widest circulated Chinese newspaper in the country. Besides a tour of the editorial department, the Trekkers took part in a dialogue with Keu Tien Siong, Chief Executive Officer of Sin Chew Media Group and Datuk Pook Ah Lek, Editor-in-Chief of Sin Chew Daily. Through the dialogue, the Trekkers learned about the media group’s role in supporting the government’s agenda in realizing the ‘TN50’ plan to transform Malaysia into a global player by 2050. They also discovered the group’s efforts in meeting the challenges of digital media in today’s fast-moving world and leadership lessons to positively impact local communities.

The next morning, the Trekkers joined a meeting with Lee Lung Nien, Chief Executive Officer of Citibank Malaysia, who shared his wisdom on leadership and ways to deal with adversity in the modern world. The Trekkers were impressed with Lee’s frank and down-to-earth approach to life that offered the Trekkers a refreshing take on how everyone is capable of achieving success while maintaining balance.

After lunch, the Trekkers visited a perfect spot in the Kuala Lumpur city center to take photographs with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in the background. They then proceeded to the Center for Asia Leadership (CAL) office to meet and brief their Teaching Assistants (TAs) who would be helping them during the Asia Leadership Conference (ALC) 2017 which was scheduled to be held the following day.

On June 10, 2017, the Trekkers were pumped up for the ALC 2017, a program which attracted high school, college and university students from various institutions around Malaysia. The full-day conference provided the Trekkers with an opportunity to not only impart their knowledge to the students but also gain insights from them on their learning experience and dreams to achieve in life. Held at Sunway University, Kuala Lumpur, the conference received an overwhelming feedback from the students who were thrilled to have acquired new skills and tools to help them navigate the ever-evolving world as part of their leadership journey.

After a hectic but stimulating time in Kuala Lumpur, the Trekkers traveled across the Causeway to Singapore on June 11, 2017 to continue the next phase of their journey. On June 12, 2017, the Trekkers visited the Singapore Airlines headquarters to learn about the airline’s challenges and business strategies in setting themselves apart from their competitors in the aviation industry. Later in the evening, they held a meeting with representatives from the People’s Action Party (PAP), a political party established by Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew and a group of committed Singaporeans to improve the well-being of the people. They discussed current issues affecting everyday Singaporeans and the party’s efforts in bringing progress and prosperity to the country.

The next morning, the Trekkers explored the thriving innovation and startup scene in Singapore through a meeting with IExperience. They visited the Info-Communications Media Experience Centre (IExperience) that showcases a wide range of services and applications enabled through the innovative use of infocomm for businesses, consumers, Government and overseas visitors. The interactive and engaging exhibits are designed provided the Trekkers with hands-on experience and educated them on the possibilities, including possible Smart Nation services leveraging Smart Infrastructure such as networks of sensors, Smart Nation Platforma and Heterogenous Network (HetNet), that aim to make the lives of Singaporeans more convenient. In the afternoon, the Trekkers made their way to the DBS headquarters to examine financial services opportunities across the region.

The following day, the Trekkers were excited to meet Bilahari Kausikan of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore. He is currently Ambassador-at-Large and Policy Advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and briefed the Trekkers on his vast experience in foreign affairs and Singapore’s position in the international relations arena.

After traveling for more than two weeks, the Trekkers arrived in their final Trek destination, Dhaka, Bangladesh on the evening of June 14, 2017. After a good night’s rest, the Trekkers were ready for a busy schedule the following day, beginning with a Prime Minister’s Office Dialogue with Anir Chowdhury, head of UNDP Access to Information (a2i) Project. a2i is the world’s first Innovation Lab+. Its primary goal is to ensure easy, affordable and reliable access to quality public services for all citizens of Bangladesh. a2i drives the creation of a public service innovation ecosystem and delivery infrastructure from the Prime Minister’s Office, working closely with the Cabinet Division.

Through the dialogue, the Trekkers realized how important it was for the country’s civil servants to equip themselves with the tools, expertise, knowledge and resources to promote innovation in providing citizen-centric solutions for public service challenges. The Trekkers then proceeded to meet with Md. Rezaul Karim, Director of LICT Project and Sami Ahmed, Component Team Leader of the Information and Communication Technology Division and LICT Project, a project of the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) under the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunication and Information Technology. There, the Trekkers acquired updates on the project’s objective to develop a vibrant and healthy Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled services industry in five years by identifying the strategies, programs and investment needed for the country to leverage ICT for future growth.

After lunch, the Trekkers held a meeting with Standard Chartered Bangladesh and Tyseer Amin, ​Senior Facilitator of the organization’s Learning Academy that manages learning programs related to areas such as management development, professional skills, conduct and compliance, induction and curriculum development. This was followed by a dialogue with Rashedul Hossain, Country Manager of MicroEnsure, a company that creates innovative solutions to meet the untapped demand of emerging consumers and to expand insurance in areas where consumers face the highest level of risk, but have the least access to insurance. The Trekkers later headed to the U.S. Embassy to meet with Kelly Ryan and Rex Moser from the Embassy’s Public Affairs Section whereby they learned about its commitment toward improving mutual understanding between the U.S. and Bangladesh. As it was the fasting month of Ramadan, the Trekkers joined Matiul Islam Nowshad, Chief Corporate and People Officer of Robi Axiata Limited, the second largest mobile network operator in Bangladesh for a dialogue and iftar or the breaking of fast to learn more about Robi and the company’s transformation journey in the country.

The next morning, the Trekkers met with Nahiyan Naser, radio presenter at Radio Next to gain a greater understanding of the station’s operations. Later, they went to Expo Freight Limited (EFL) and met with Md. Razib, Deputy Marketing Manager of EFL. EFL is one of the largest and most reliable freight forwarding and logistics companies in Asia and the Trekkers had the opportunity to observe how it has emerged to become a global brand that has endured all the challenges of operating in limited transportation infrastructure markets. They then spent their entire afternoon at the Jamuna Future Park and Jamuna TV, run by the Jamuna Group, a giant dynasty of 24 large scale enterprises including electrical, engineering, chemical, leather, garments and textiles (spinning, knitting and dyeing), cosmetics, toiletries, beverages, real estate, housing, print and electronic media sectors. The Jamuna Future Park is emerging as a center of excellence for premier cluster of large scale enterprises including Bangladesh’s biggest shopping mall cum commercial complex, a modern theater building, a hospital and a five-star hotel in the same premises. Meanwhile, Jamuna Television Ltd. has been structured with a state of the art digital broadcasting system. There, the Trekkers saw the Group’s efforts in promoting local talents as part of their journey toward success.

The Trekkers spent their last day in Dhaka with a trip to a garments factory operated by Ananta Group Bangladesh, one of the leading apparel solution providers in Bangladesh. Engaged in the marketing, development and manufacturing of apparels, Ananta employs 20,000 people across the company and has an annual turnover of over US$200 million. Ananta’s success is rooted in its investments in human capital and world-class manufacturing facilities. The Trekkers discovered how the Group not only strive to achieve global standards in quality, cost, service and scale of operation, but are also committed in carrying out social initiatives including a training center for underprivileged minorities, education for staff’s family members and free, biannual eye camps for examination and treatment.

The Trekkers also met with Dr. Saiful Majid, Director of the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka to know more about the university’s success and supportive culture and facilities for research and learning. Their last meeting for the day was with Mark Pierce, Country Director of Save the Children, an organization that has been working tirelessly to assist the children in Bangladesh since 1970. The organization works with stakeholders across six thematic sectors: Child Protection, Health- Nutrition-HIV/AIDS, Child Poverty, Humanitarian, Education and Policy Rights Governance. It was an enlightening session for the Trekkers as they learned Save the Children’s future plans to address the needs and rights of the country’ children and their communities. The day concluded with a private networking dinner which marked the end of the ALT 2017.

After a whirlwind three-week adventure across Asia, the Trekkers returned to their studies in the U.S. with a whole new perspective on Asia. It was an enriching and invaluable experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives!

by Ida Fazila