Building partnerships in ASEAN and beyond

M. A. P. Insights
Junie S. del Mundo

Posted on August 08, 2017

This year, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) marks its 50th year in a markedly different world, where the headwinds of protectionism blow strong. As the world veers away from the principles on which the group was founded, it gives me much solace that the nations comprising ASEAN are undeterred and determined as ever -- eager to build partnerships and break barriers, while shining light on the region’s dynamism.

Over the past few years, ASEAN governments have been discussing the way forward for the region and its people, especially with the ASEAN Economic Community now a reality. The Philippines, being this year’s ASEAN chair, has been hosting summits and meetings where the region’s future is being shaped and written.

I believe, though, that the conversation about ASEAN’s future should be further broadened and deepened, and that the business community should create the space for these discussions to take place.

For this reason, the Management Association of the Philippines (M.A.P.), the foremost business organization in the country, is driving conversations not only between the government and the business sector, but with the broader business communities of ASEAN, so that we may jointly chart the region’s destiny. With the opportunities and challenges that come with integration, it is crucial to discuss how we can collaborate to achieve progress that is both inclusive and sustainable.

For this reason, the M.A.P. has chosen the theme “ASEAN in Business: Building Partnerships in a Growth Network” for its 15th International CEO Conference 2017, to be held on Sept. 12. The Conference will focus on issues that matter most to the business community: driving inclusive and innovation-led growth; building a people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN; and positioning ASEAN as a model of regionalism and a global player. Through information and knowledge sharing among people of diverse backgrounds, the M.A.P. hopes to encourage innovative thinking, collaboration, and cooperation among the citizens of ASEAN, while keeping a global perspective at all times.

The M.A.P. took special care in ensuring that this year’s speakers would inspire participants to see their role in ASEAN in a whole new light. Thought leaders from all over the world will share their insights on what it takes to build and enable these partnerships and networks, starting with international economist and risk expert Dr. Thierry Apoteker, who will share his thoughts on building partnerships in an environment of heightened protectionism and uncertainty.

To share insights on the elements essential for “driving inclusive, innovation-led growth” -- the first track of the discussions -- are ASEAN’s game changers. Uber’s general manager for Southeast Asia Chan Park will talk about the innovation race in the digital world, including what the digital platform economy has in store for businesses, and what businesses can do to embrace innovations to survive and grow in the digital world.

Reflecting on the emergence of financial unicorns and the stratospheric rise of start-ups in the past decade, Y3 Technologies CEO Marc Dragon of Singapore draws from his experience in the start-up scene to speak on what it takes to build a culture of innovation in the business sector. He will highlight what established businesses can learn from the start-up culture, going beyond traditional thinking and processes, and ways to promote inclusive, innovation-led growth.

The global and ASEAN consumer is fast evolving, and businesses need to be on their toes to anticipate their needs. Recognizing the challenges posed by ever-demanding consumers KPMG Hong Kong’s Anson Bailey will touch on the changing consumer landscape, notably in ASEAN. He will also share insights from available data and turn these into actionable insights.

Complementing these talks are a specially commissioned MAP-PwC survey, highlights of which will be discussed by Isla Lipana Managing Partner Mary Jade Roxas Divinagracia.

“Positioning ASEAN as a model of regionalism and a global player” -- the second track of the discussions -- is foremost in everyone’s minds. Weighing in on this and the future of ASEAN is David Wijeratne, Partner and Growth Markets Center Lead of PWC Singapore. He will touch on the developments that have greatly affected the ASEAN economic community, and identify growth markets in the region.

Taking the perspective of an Asian financial firm that has undergone a drastic transformation, J.P Ellis, Group CEO of Indonesia’s C88 Financial Technologies will share lessons in expanding new businesses in old industries. He will draw on lessons he learned while making his mark in the ASEAN financial industry, providing glimpses as to how others may similarly become global players.

People are ASEAN’s most valuable resource, and it is imperative for us to discuss how we can jointly “build a people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN” -- the third track of our discussions. World Wildlife Fund South Africa’s Dr. Andrew Baxter will speak on doing good while doing well, sharing his experiences and ideas on the kind of creative thinking and sustainable processes that organizations can adopt that are good for both businesses and communities.

The ASEAN Foundation’s Elaine Tan of Indonesia will then share her insights on what makes the ASEAN people unique as individual nations and as one integrated region, as well as her thoughts on how ASEAN governments, businesses and civil society can work together to leverage on this uniqueness to promote growth across the region.

I am very confident that these speakers will spark more conversations that can further shape ASEAN’s destiny as it moves beyond the 50-year mark. Although vastly different from what it was five decades ago, ASEAN still holds on to the values that have nurtured it from the beginning -- the values of respect, trust, and cooperation. These are values that we hold dear, and which we have nourished by learning from one another over the years. For sure, we can continue doing so in the years ahead.

Junie S. del Mundo is the Chair of the M.A.P. CEO Conference Committee and the CEO of the EON Group, a fully integrated communications agency. EON Group also spearheads thought leadership initiatives including the Philippine Trust Index, a multi-awarded proprietary research that looks into Filipinos’ trust in society’s institutions.