Southeast Asia can pride itself on having increased the number of startups and entrepreneurial activities. Yet, scaling these startups to solidly profitable levels has been a challenge. Partly because Southeast Asian home market is so diverse: so many countries, so many cultures, so many religions, languages, political systems, currencies, so many different regulations, so many different institutions.

This YSEALI Academy’s seminar on Born Globals focuses on learning unique startup capabilities that allow them to rapidly expand internationally. If you want to be part of this movement for a more regionally and globally connected startup culture, our next Entrepreneurship Seminar is for you!

The YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam will host young professional from across ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste to explore and discuss about the Born Globals together. The seminar will start with 2 engagement sessions online and continue with a 1-week seminar series in-person in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from September 24 – October 1, 2022.

Applications are now being accepted until July 29th. Young professionals from across ASEAN and Timor-Leste who are between the ages of 25-35 (no previous YSEALI experience required) or between the ages of 36-40 (YSEALI alumni status required) are encouraged to apply.

Apply at: https://bit.ly/yaapply

If you want to learn more about our seminar, do join our Information Session Webinar on July 15! The YSEALI Academy team will answer questions, and tips on applying for prospective candidates.

Follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/YSEALIAcademyatFulbright

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — The YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam (hereinafter the YSEALI Academy) officially announced the launch of its Entrepreneurship Seminar titled “The Born Globals: Scaling Startups beyond Borders”. This seminar is now open for applications until July 29, 2022.

Launched in 2020, the YSEALI Academy’s main mission is to build capacity and enhance leadership skills for young professionals ages 25-40 from across Southeast Asia and Timor-Leste. Each year, the YSEALI Academy offers four seminars on Public Policy, Technology & Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The 2022 Entrepreneurship Seminar on Born Globals: Scaling Startups beyond Borders is a 1-week in-person seminar series preceded by two online engagement sessions geared towards young professionals who are (or are planning) to hone their skills to grow new ventures internationally.

The combination of online engagement sessions and a week-long in-person seminar/workshops will be high-speed, ultra-meaningful, and prepare the fellows for the Start or Expansion of an international new venture. At its core will be an action-based hackathon complemented by lectures, panel discussions, and coaching sessions from a carefully selected group of faculty and mentors. Participants have a chance to build conceptual business solutions for pressing societal problems across borders, and finally, pitch their plans before VCs and business angels. This seminar will unlock Southeast Asian entrepreneurial potential that can change the world.

The Entrepreneurship Seminar on “The Born Globals: Scaling Startups beyond Borders” will be opened to YSEALI Academy fellows who are young professionals between the ages of 25-40, highly qualified and motivated, from all 10 ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste. Once selected, all participants will be fully funded by the U.S. Department of State to attend the seminar.

Seminar schedule:

  • Enrollment: July 7 – July 29, 2022
  • Announcement of Result: August 18, 2022
  • Seminar dates:
    • September 20 – 22: Online Engagement Session
    • September 24 – October 1: In-person Seminar in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

To apply: https://yseali.fulbright.edu.vn/apply/

Southeast Asia can pride itself on having more and more startups and entrepreneurial activities. Yet, scaling these startups internationally has been a challenge, partly because of the very diverse Southeast Asian home market. Learning from Born Globals can help to overcome these external obstacles. Born Globals are known for their unique startup capabilities to rapidly expand across borders: global leadership, adaptability, networking capacity, and innovative business models. If you want to be part of this movement for a more regionally and globally connected startup culture, our next Entrepreneurship Seminar is for you!”, Willem Smit, Ph.D., Lead Faculty for Entrepreneurship of YSEALI Academy.

As you are aware, Southeast Asia is one of the most entrepreneurial regions on this planet. There are over 70 Million micro, small and medium sized enterprises in Southeast Asia, which contribute to over 50% of the regional GDP. It is fair to say that entrepreneurship runs deep in our societies. You, as the young talents of Southeast Asia, will play a crucial part in shaping the regional ecosystem and solving the most pressing problems in our modern society. Despite the huge talent pool in Southeast Asia and the growth in capital, it has been historically challenging for Southeast Asian startups to scale beyond national boundaries or even establish themselves globally. Why has this scaling process been so hard and how can we enable it? This fascinating question lies at the heart of our upcoming Entrepreneurship Seminar on “Born Globals: Scaling Startups beyond Borders”.

“In order to tackle this question, we must engage in a dialogue that features stakeholders from different backgrounds in business, academia, and leadership. Be part of this exciting dialogue, which promises to yield insights that will help you cross boundaries on your entrepreneurial journey!”, Ha Thi Hoang, MD, PhD, Director of YSEALI Academy.

The YSEALI Academy will hold its special Information Session Webinar for the 2022 Technology and Innovation Seminar on Digitization of Trust.  

In the information session, participants will get to know about the Seminar’s curriculum and activities, as well as a live Q&A session with our YSEALI Academy’s team.  

The Information Session Webinar will be taken place on Friday, April 1st from 7PM to 8PM (Hanoi/Bangkok, GMT +7) via Zoom.  

Panelists:

Vladimir Mariano, PhD, YSEALI Academy, YSEALI Academy Lead Faculty for Technology and Innovation 
Huyen T. Tran, MA, YSEALI Academy Program Officer 
・Lai Cheng Wong, Manager at SEAMEO RESCAM, YSEALI Academy Alumni of 2021 Technology and Innovation Seminar  

Register to join us: https://bit.ly/YAinfowebinar  

To apply: https://yseali.fulbright.edu.vn/apply/ 

Seminar schedule: 

  • Enrollment: March 7 – April 7, 2022 
  • Announcement of Result: 29 April, 2022 
  • Seminar dates: May 30 – June 10, 2022 (two weeks, ten working days) 

In the two-week-long seminar on Digitization of Trust, the fellows will learn about A.I. technologies that redefine our concept of “trust” and how they are changing our society both beneficially and negatively.  The fellows will acquire skills to critique and carefully adopt current A.I. technologies as well as the ones they will encounter in the future. The major topics include: 

  • Understanding the Bias of A.I. and Its Influence on Decision Making 
  • The Rise of Synthetic and Manipulated Media 
  • Blockchain and the Automation of Trust 
  • Legal Implications of A.I. Decisions 

The seminar will be opened to 35 YSEALI Academy fellows who are young professionals between the ages of 25-40, highly qualified and motivated, from all 10 ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste. Once selected, all participants will be fully funded by the U.S. Department of State to attend the seminar. The lectures, panels and teamwork sessions of the seminar will be mainly conducted in the afternoon and evening (GMT +7) with the expected participating time of 48 hours. 

Find out more about the seminar program HERE.

Lead Faculty for Technology and Innovation of the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam on the upcoming seminar for young leaders from Southeast Asia, the exponential progress of technology, and its implications for the future of the region.  

Vietnam has been home to Dr. Vladimir Mariano, a computer scientist, educator and entrepreneur, for seven years. The country is part of a journey spanning 34 years of efforts dedicated to technology, which began when he first learned how to code in a summer camp as a 14-year-old boy growing up in the Philippines. After completing his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Mariano has held official posts at universities, startups and tech companies in the U.S., the Philippines and Vietnam. And now, with his recent appointment as Lead Faculty for Technology and Innovation of the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam, according Dr. Mariano, it is nothing short of a dream come true. 

“I dreamed of coming to Fulbright when it was first announced by [the then] U.S. President Barack Obama in 2016,” he said over our Zoom conversation. “I was excited. This is not just a new university. It is part of the history of the relationship between the two nations. To be part of this unfolding history is like a dream come true. I’m also very happy because it reconnects me back to the United States, where I got my Ph.D., where my family and I embraced and were welcomed by America.” 

1988 in Dr. Mariano’s home in the Philippines: “That’s me (left), my dad (center) and my brother (right). It was around this time that I discovered the wonder of computers and how to code them.”

But in fact, Dr. Mariano’s hope and vision for the future of education actually goes back to the year 1995, when the internet was first introduced in the Philippines. “[At that moment], we imagined it was going to revolutionize teaching and democratize knowledge,” he told us. “Unfortunately, higher education is not evolving and innovating at the pace of technological progress. It is still desperately trying to hold on to its old ways, emphasizing degrees, grades and courses.” And with the pandemic, he lamented, the inequality has been laid bare, and exacerbated, meaning students who don’t have computers, laptops, or internet access won’t be able to engage with schools.

“When I heard about Fulbright, and especially the YSEALI Academy, I thought maybe this is the place that will innovate, and affect change, in the way we learn,” he said. How can we overhaul the education system, in a way that prepares the next generations to face incredible challenges in uncertain times – is the question he kept coming back to in our conversation.

“As future leaders of Southeast Asia, young professionals need to be critical of technology’

Technology has made exponential progress since Dr. Mariano’s days in the Philippines. “[In 1988], watching how a computer can process so much information in so little time was like magic, and we were magicians who commanded this new machine,” he shared. “I decided there and then that it was going to be my career, being with this very interesting machine.” Yet he admitted, even with his decades-old experience, technology is developing so fast that one can’t possibly predict what’s going to happen next. “In 2030, my son will be at the age of 26. Still I can’t tell what jobs are going to be in demand, what skills will be needed in the workforce in the future,” he said. “A lot of that is dictated by technology. Considering how fast the world is changing, we have to understand how these powerful tools are influencing us.” 

Built on his observations and concerns in the field of AI, in particular machine learning and computer vision – his research expertise since doctoral years and later on, his ventures with tech companies, Dr. Mariano has chosen the theme of the upcoming YSEALI seminar to be “The Digitization of Trust”. 

Internship at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, Pittsburgh 2002. This was where Dr. Mariano saw university ideas and expertise get turned into products.

“What is trust?” in the digital age is one of the critical components he would like Southeast Asian fellows to discuss and explore in this seminal get-together between international scholars, industry experts, and future leaders of the region. “As young leaders, you’re going to lead yourself, and you’re going to lead other people,” he explained. “In order to lead, you have to make decisions. And those decisions have to be based on truth, and facts.”

You may recall the 2020 Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, which exposes viewers to how social media manipulate and distort our perception of reality through calculated design features, aggravate our most staunchly, deep-seated beliefs, to the point of spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation. “A lot of people believe that AI is neutral, that it’s not biased,” Dr. Mariano said. “But it’s actually behaving in a biased way. Biased to whom? What are the goals of AI? It is the same goal as the company behind them, who writes the algorithms to collect data and maximize profits.”

He continued: “We all know the internet has been beneficial to the democratization of information. But now AI has put that on steroids, in terms of its ability to propagate good information, as well as misinformation and disinformation.” Citing the fact that most people are now experiencing life through screens and smart devices, and the fact that online transactions make up a considerable portion of business worldwide, Dr. Mariano hopes the upcoming YSEALI seminar will shed light on AI as a substantial entity that is trying to “sway your opinion, or put your opinion in a certain place”.

“As a leader in Southeast Asia, what should you do? How do you swim in this ocean of information and  misinformation overload, in order to make a good decision for you and your people? I think it’s one of the biggest concerns now with artificial intelligence.”

Dr. Mariano: “There is this kid inside of me that doesn’t want to grow up. I love making and teaching robotics for kids” – 2021 in Vietnam.

The future of education through technology

While Dr. Mariano has had years of experience in the industry as co-founder and CTO of tech companies in the Philippines and Vietnam, education remains his true calling. “The idea that you can make a tech product out of what you’ve learnt in school, something that can be of use to people and also, you can make an earning out of that, was quite foreign to the students I was teaching in the Philippines many years back,” he shared. “What I learned from my work in the industry, I shared with them. I told my students, ‘This particular formula, or this algorithm, is important not just because you’re going to take a test, but I actually applied it to a company to solve a problem.’ Because of that, they do not forget it, regardless of their score in the test.” 

His ultimate goal is to inspire new generations with the beauty and creativity of technology. Alongside his work at the YSEALI Academy, Dr. Mariano is running MakerSpace Kids, an initiative where children can come together to learn how to design games and build robots. He believes these activities will help them master math, physics, coding and digital art from an early age – through the very things they love to play with and intuitively understand – and empower these children with the possibilities of ideas for the future. 

Dr. Mariano: “I enjoy watching kids discover the joy of coding. This 8-year-old kid learned Python by himself.” – 2020.

Otherwise, Dr. Mariano is also collaborating with the research team of the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management – lending his expertise in A.I. and digital image processing to a project that will analyze satellite images – to unveil changing landscapes and piece together stories on the ground about agriculture, forestry, and environment developments in Vietnam. “Technology has always been a two-edged sword; it has lots of benefits, but also risks,” he said. “It is a powerful tool for good. Now, when I say for good, one guide for it is the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Southeast Asia is particularly vulnerable to climate change, overpopulation in urban areas, and many, many other issues on our path towards economic development. At YSEALI Academy, we hope to empower fellows. Instead of being distracted by the latest cool apps on our phone, we should think about how technology can actually help solve the biggest problems in the region right now. That we should think regional, and together as a people.” he said. “To do that, we need to take control of technology. We have to be aware of its influences and adapt fast to changing tides, and know that regardless of your background, you don’t have to be just a consumer of technology, but you can make technology.”

Bao Quyen

The Public Policy Seminar, the first of four seminars organized by the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright in 2022, will take place virtually from March 14 to March 25. YSEALI Academy is still receiving applications until January 09, 2022.

Environment issues and the role of policy in Southeast Asia: A quick overview

Historically endowed with landscapes of wildlife diversity, beguiling beaches, and luxuriant forests; home to some of the most populated yet culturally vibrant and economically exciting cities in the world; Southeast Asia stands, however, as one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand are among the top 10 countries most affected by impacts of weather-related loss events from 2000 to 2019. Devastating typhoons and floods, unpredictable rain patterns and dry spells, rising sea levels and warmer temperatures  – these are the critical threats that imminently (or already) turn the lives of the region’s population of more than 640 million upside down, whose dwellings are heavily established on the countries’ elongated coastal lines. 

While carbon emissions in Southeast Asia are comparatively lower than that of developed countries in Asia, the acceleration of economic development and urbanization – which entails rising energy demands of coal and oil-fired power plants, deforestation, air pollution, water and food wastes  – has put the region under contentious strains between temporal prosperity and generational sustainability.

The importance of policy – in favor of solving national and regional environmental challenges, while securing and advancing the livelihoods of our people, and at the same time, preserving our precious natural resources and ensuring the future of our next generations – in this case, is not simply restricted to the court of public opinion or solely ascribed to the few hands of elected government officials. An effective environmental policy can be analyzed, drafted, implemented, and committed from members within any organization – not only public agencies  – but also from private international corporations to local businesses and nonprofit institutions, in order to spark positive change from the ground up. 

What are the critical steps to implement a deliverable policy within your organization? What are the most pressing environmental issues that the countries of Southeast Asia are facing at the moment? How will these issues affect us all? How can we hone our leadership skills in order to speak, communicate, and effectively convince stakeholders of the problems and the plans we aim to solve these issues? It is at the YSEALI Academy’s Public Policy seminar that we hope you’ll be informed, inspired, and endeavor to change the world.    

The Public Policy Seminar on Regional Environment and Resilient Development: A deep dive into the curriculum

The aim of the two-week Public Policy seminar on “Regional Environment and Resilient Development” is to provide young professionals and future leaders from Southeast Asia with an overview of environmental challenges to Southeast Asia and how to cope with them by (and for) resilient development. 

With interactive lectures, panel discussions and leadership workshops, the seminar will be academically rigorous yet experientially practical to the Fellow’s future endeavors. The seminar’s curriculum – developed and delivered by faculty from Fulbright, international and regional academic scholars from leading universities, and industry experts from MNCs with diverse experiences of the region – will provide Fellows with once-in-a-lifetime, intensive discussion with the most prominent names in the field. In 2021, the YSEALI Academy was honored to have distinguished speakers such as Nobel Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus; world-renowned computational psychologist Sandra Matz; and Stephanie Davis, Vice President of Google Southeast Asia; among many others, to deliver inspiring and insightful talks during the course of our seminars. 

At the upcoming seminar on “Regional Environment and Resilient Development”, critical environmental issues facing Southeast Asia will be explored through economic and policymaking perspectives. Prominent speakers will include Dr. David Dapice and Professor Edward Cunningham of Harvard Kennedy School;  Professor Edmund Malesky of Duke University; Professor Wil Burns of  Northwestern University; and Brian Eyler, Energy, Water, Sustainability Program Director, Southeast Asia Program Director, The Stimson Center; among many others. At such, the seminar will be divided into four topics:

– Introduction, macroeconomic frameworks, and policy tools for environmental management and resilient development. This section introduces frameworks and policy tools to examine and analyze environmental issues in Southeast Asia. It will also address the approaches to cope with environmental challenges through resilient development e.g. carbon intensity in exports, carbon tax, nature conservation and biodiversity, sustainable cities or agriculture.

– Environmental trends, issues, and resilient development. This part provides an overview of the Southeast Asian environmental landscape, including emerging trends, issues, and policies for resilient development.

– Air, soil, and water environment: from the Lower Mekong Region to the South China Sea. This section deep dive into various environmental problems extending from the Lower Mekong Region to the South China Sea. It will analyze pertinent challenges to the air, soil and water environment, including impacts of coal-power plants, waste management, upstream hydropower projects, water security, water governance, coastal environment, marine ecology.

– Climate change in the 21st century: Past observation, future projection, and potential impacts. This part focuses on climate change and related themes such as emission, global warming, sea level rise as well as their impacts on Southeast Asia, particularly the coastal cities and regions. It will also address Southeast Asian/ASEAN cooperation on environment and the COP 26 meeting.

The YSEALI Academy at Fulbright: A platform for future leaders of Southeast Asia to connect and build a better future together

Launched in 2013, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. YSEALI seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture an ASEAN community. 

Over the next 5 years, the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright aims to deliver 16-20 high-quality seminars to rising leaders (Fellows) across Southeast Asia. Centered on the main themes of technology & innovation, public policy, and entrepreneurship, these seminars will address challenging issues facing the region, while creating lasting professional relationships between Fellows of different nationalities and fostering skills which can be applied in their careers.

From Nuzulia Fajriningrum, a YSEALI alumni from Indonesia who participated in 2021’s seminar on Energy Economics and Policy: “The seminar exposed me to a brand-new perspective and enriched my capacity on energy, economics, and policy. Not only did the lecturers share knowledge as leading experts in the energy sector, but they also gave clear explanations and practical approaches for us to thoroughly comprehend the topics.”

Dr. Sheena Ramazanu, a YSEALI fellow from Singapore, remarked: “One thing that I will always keep in my heart is the network of people who we meet in our life, how essential they are. In other words, your network is your net worth. To solve a particular world problem, it will not be possible if we work in silos. When we come together from Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar or the Philippines, we’re not only representing our countries. Beyond that, we’re sharing an ASEAN identity.”

Lai Cheng Wong from Malaysia, said: “I’m thankful that YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam put me in a team with a group of  people with different backgrounds and interests. They were right. A team with diverse interests and different cultural values offers a wide range of thought processes and perspectives. So don’t fear conflict, welcome it for its innovative power. There is a very powerful source for learning and innovation that comes into play when different people come together.”

Key information for the YSEALI Academy’s Public Policy Seminar on Regional Environment and Resilient Development 

The Public Policy seminar on Regional Environment and Resilient Development will be open to 35 YSEALI fellows who are young professionals with interests in environmental development, environmental science and sustainability. Once selected, all participants will be fully funded by the U.S. Department of State. 

Joining this seminar, Fellows are expected to commit at least 36 hours for online activities and approximately 12 additional hours for individual and group assignments over a period of 2 weeks. Therefore, participants are recommended to take two working weeks off their ordinary work duties or other commitments to participate efficiently in and achieve the most from the Seminar.

Seminar schedule:

  • Enrollment: December 13, 2021 – January 9, 2022 
  • Participant selection announced: February 8, 2022 
  • Seminar dates: March 14 – 25, 2022 (two weeks, ten working days, Monday – Friday) 

To find out more about the seminar program: https://yseali.fulbright.edu.vn/en/seminars/seminars-2022/public-policy-march-2022/

 To apply: https://yseali.fulbright.edu.vn/apply/ 

Lai Cheng Wong was a Fellow of the Technology and Innovation seminar, held virtually by the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright in September 2021. As a manager at SEAMEO RECSAM (Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization – Regional Centre for Education in Science and Mathematics) with over 12-year pursuit in education, she brought to the seminar a passion to transform the future workforce from digital users to producers for a safe, beneficial and respectful digital environment.

Lai Cheng Wong was born in Penang, Malaysia, and was influenced by her parents’ hard work and faith in education. “My parents once said education is a gift of a lifetime for every child. My effort to pursue higher education is the gift that I give back to my parents,” Wong shares. She obtained her master’s degree in Corporate Social Responsibility from Universiti Sains Malaysia. However, she has to delay her Ph.D. because currently, she is wearing too many hats –  a wife, a mother, a guest lecturer, a manager at SEAMEO RECSAM, and a co-founder of Media Information Literacy for ASEAN Network (MIL for ASEAN Network).  

Her career in education started in 2007 at a renowned private university college in Malaysia where she served as a Communications executive and later, a guest lecturer. Yet it was not until she joined the YSEALI Professional Fellowship in 2015 in the United States that she felt empowered to be a part of a solution to solve her community’s issues related to education. Thanks to the experiences and connections from that fellowship, she established the MIL for ASEAN Network with the funding support from the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and Penang Institute aiming to raise media and information literacy skills and counter media misinformation & disinformation and cyber safety issues in classrooms.  Various initiatives have been run to boost teachers’ confidence in dealing with the fast-evolving media so that our future generation can participate meaningfully in the growing digital society and economy. 

Wong joined the YSEALI Professional Fellowship Program in the U.S, Fall 2015

“Scams are becoming more sophisticated and many people fall victim to them. A friend of mine was a victim of an online scam receiving fake messages via a social media platform from a person who claimed to be an official agent from a famous airline loyalty programme. He lost an amount of money. But the critical point here is why a young tech-savvy person can easily fall for a wrong call. Our resources are focusing on changing technology but not investing enough in the online safety of our next generation. To keep ourselves safe from cybercrime and knowing how criminals are using information obtained, we need to teach our future generations about what they’re sharing online and what good cyber hygiene looks like – that is why digital citizenship and media & information literacy in schools is vital, so they can keep themselves, and their identities safe,” Wong shares. This story motivated her to participate in the Technology and Information seminar, to discuss not only the advantages but also the challenges we may confront in the era of digital transformation. 

Promoting teachers as the agents of change

The pandemic has deeply changed the world’s ecosystem and interactions, and education is not an exception to this trend. Being an educator, Wong realized how crucial it is to create well-informed and safe virtual classrooms for students. She believes that teachers are the agents of change who have transformed classrooms through technology, nurture students’ capabilities to adopt new technology, expose them to differentiate falsehoods from facts, and give them a safe space in the fast-moving digital ecosystem.

Everything was overwhelming at the beginning,” Wong reflects about her first time participating in a technology-focused seminar with the latest in-depth knowledge about Big Data, the Internet of Things, Machine Learning, and Data Science. As the seminar progressed, she found the topics getting closer to her current works and personal advocacy, especially the lecture: Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence of Things for Smarter Communities shared by Johan Barthelemy, University of Wollongong Australia. It helped her realize the importance of promoting citizen acceptability and their involvement in the projects designed for their communities. 

The Media and Information Literacy workshop for teachers across the Malaysia and Philippines, a funded alumni project from Techcamp Malaysia, March 2021

Having worked with a diverse network of teachers in the ASEAN region, she has faced the challenge of how to design her training contents relevant to their local context and suitable to their capabilities. “Most of them are not ready for the digital transformation and lack of knowledge and experience regarding cyberspace and the importance of digital citizenship in order to promote responsible online behavior,” Wong says. Her ultimate goal is to raise teachers’ awareness and understanding of media literacy and digital citizenship, thus the teachers can become the agents of change in their communities to better protect their students against cyber-risks and be ready for the future of digitalization. 

A memorable interdisciplinary collaboration – “YSEALI Academy and Fulbright are right!”

I had known interdisciplinary approaches before but when I was put in the team with [people from] different backgrounds, I was surprised since I expected to be paired with a team that shares common interest in education,”  Wong shares. However, in the midst of doubts, she remembered a powerful quote in the leadership workshop within this seminar: “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower” and decided to approach the problem differently – fixing the way they collaborated to optimize one another’s potentials. 

Since each of her teammates has an individual interest varied from finance, business, data science to healthcare and hers being education, they had made a surprising decision on their topic: E-Wallet – an everyday life application, a contemporary cross-national innovation, and most importantly, the one and only area that they have shared-knowledge. 

From my side, instead of focusing on cyber safety in education, I shifted it to the safety concern of E-Wallet. It is also aligned with my principle to view ‘cyber safety’ as a life lesson which transcends the limitations of the schooling system,” Wong recalls. 

Her team won the Best Project Award at Technology and Innovation seminar, September 2021

According to the findings from her team’s research, 40% of respondents have been the victims of classical scam methods via SMS or email. Therefore, one of the recommendations given in their presentation was: Government and E-Wallet providers should offer digital security literacy workshops and campaigns to educate users and merchants about fraud attempts and scams and encourage trust and adoption of technology.

I’m thankful that YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam put me in a team with a group of  people with different backgrounds and interests. They were right. A team with diverse interests and different cultural values offers a wide range of thought processes and perspectives. So don’t fear conflict, welcome it for its innovative power. There is a very powerful source for learning and innovation that comes into play when different people come together,”  Wong stresses.

Her team eventually won the Best Project Award and was encouraged by Dr. Le Vu Quan to further develop it on a bigger scale since only a limited amount of research about E-Wallet has been conducted in the regional context. The experience also changed her way of approaching her current and future projects: “Diverse mindsets being involved to solve challenges in education is what I aim for. I would love to understand new perspectives from the stakeholders in other fields.” 

A passion fired by trust and support

It has made me unstoppable since the day I joined the YSEALI Professional Fellowship. My commitment to my community grew even stronger during and after the Technology and Innovation Seminar. Not only did the seminar offer knowledge, but also the following opportunities,” Wong affirms. After the Seminar,  Wong will be running a webinar on Digital Citizenship  and Internet Safety for teachers across the SEAMEO region. The project requires her to work with Google APAC and DQ Institute in Singapore to define the challenges of online learning experiences in schools, cultivate digital citizens and construct safe and responsible learning environments.

Wong participated in President Obama’s Town Hall, YSEALI Summit 2015

Although the Technology and Innovation seminar lasted only two weeks and was held virtually, it established a strong bond among Fellows, which became a foundation for ongoing networking until today. “Being part of the YSEALI Academy’s Fellows community is so great because I became more confident to face and surpass all challenges I may encounter in the future. It was life-changing to meet all my mentors and lecturers who trained me to acquire knowledge in digital transformation. YSEALI Academy gave us so much courage and strength to pursue our dreams through the power of collaborations. By sharing information, resources and capabilities, we can achieve great things together that we could never achieve alone,” Wong shares.  

Wong and other Malaysian fellows at YSEALI-ICMA Professional Fellowship, Fall 2015

She hopes that YSEALI Academy and Fulbright University Vietnam will continue to provide more and better opportunities for Southeast Asian young leaders to be part of its programs and activities. Sharing of ideas and experiences among Fellows from different backgrounds, contexts, and countries, enhance the learning experiences and serve as great motivators to encourage visions of change in Southeast Asia. 

An Binh

Information session – YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam’s Public Policy Seminar is the first webinar for prospective applicants who are interested in learning more about the Regional Environment and Resilient Development Seminar. Throughout this information session, YSEALI Academy’s leaders and faculty will introduce to interested applicants the curriculum, the application process, program requirements, and other opportunities we have to offer.  

This webinar is a part of YSEALI Academy’s effort to engage and interact with young professionals across Southeast Asia and Timor Leste and provide them with opportunities to foster their career development. With a growing prospect of this region, it is now more than ever critical to offer new chances for this cohort to thrive into a new generation of leaders. 

Webinar Information:

Time: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 

Presenters:

  • Prof Le Vu Quan – Director, YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam 
  • Dr. Le Viet Phu – Environmental Policy Lecturer, Fulbright University Vietnam 
  • Mr. Huynh Trung Dung – Public Policy Faculty, YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam 

Register at: https://bit.ly/3lefelC 

The link to join the webinar will be sent to your registered email 24 hours before the event.  

For more information, contact YSEALI Academy by emailing yseali@fulbright.edu.vn or visit our website at https://yseali.fulbright.edu.vn/en/.

On December 13, 2021, the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright) officially announced the launch of its first seminar in 2022 on Public Policy. The seminar’s topic will focus on Regional Environment and Resilient Development and is now open for application until January 9, 2022.  

Launched in 2020, YSEALI Academy’s main mission is to organize seminars and workshops fostering the capacity for young professionals, juniors and middle management levels aged 25-40 from across Southeast Asia. In 2022, YSEALI Academy plans to offer four seminars addressing challenging issues facing the region such as environment and development, digital economy, entrepreneurship, and green finance for sustainable future. 

The aim of the two-week Public Policy seminar is to provide an overview of environmental challenges to Southeast Asia and how to cope with them by resilient development. With economic and policymaking perspectives, it will focus on selected environmental issues facing Southeast Asia, including environmental pollution, water security, climate change, oil and gas exploration, upstream hydropower dam, and carbon intensity in exports. The seminar combines theoretical and experiential learning and includes high-impact practical experiences relating to maximize the engagement of participants.  

The seminar will be offered by faculty from Fulbright University, international and regional academic scholars from leading universities, and industry experts from MNCs to develop and deliver learning materials and activities that are academically rigorous and yet practical to young professionals in ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste. 

The Public Policy seminar on Regional Environment and Resilient Development will be open to 35 YSEALI fellows who are young professionals with interests in environmental development, environmental science and sustainability. Once selected, all participants will be fully funded by the U.S. Department of State. Participants will be required to commit at least 36 hours for online seminar activities and approximately 12 additional hours for individual and group assignments over a period of 2 weeks. Some sessions will be offered during working hours. 

Seminar schedule:

  • Enrollment: December 13, 2021 – January 9, 2022 
  • Participant selection announced: February 18, 2022 
  • Seminar dates: March 14 – 25, 2022 (two weeks, ten working days, Monday – Friday) 

 To find out more about the seminar program: https://yseali.fulbright.edu.vn/en/seminars/seminars-2022/public-policy-march-2022/

 To apply: https://yseali.fulbright.edu.vn/apply/  

 “We hope to support young leaders, those who want to build their leadership competencies and be the leaders of tomorrow that the region is looking for, through the seminar series at YSEALI Academy,” emphasized Le Vu Quan, PhD, Director of YSEALI Academy.  

“Southeast Asia is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change. Young leaders in this region must act immediately and decisively in post-COP26 to prevent devastating environmental consequences,” added Huynh Trung Dung, public policy lead faculty. 

Regrettably, due to COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, we have to offer the Public Policy seminar virtually. However, we will ensure that there will be many opportunities to enhance learning and leading experiences and networking opportunities.  

Professor Muhammad Yunus said the pandemic has stopped the train that would lead people to the destination of destruction, urging youngers to change its course.

Covid has exposed all the weaknesses that we have in our system. And we’ll be seeing them very vividly,” Professor Yunus, who in 2006 was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen Bank that he set up, said in a virtual talk on Friday.

The event is called “Unleashing the Power of Entrepreneurship: The Way to Create a World of Three Zeros“, hosted by the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam.

Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus speaks at the Trust Women conference in London, UK, November 2014. Photo by Reuters

Speaking to YSEALI members, Yunus stated that Covid has made millions of people lose their income significantly and they are pressed down. Consequently, they are pushed back into poverty that they were out of before the pandemic. For example, a person who has $100 a day could fall into the $50, $5, or $2 index of the poverty line and do not have any wealth.

At the same time, one percent of the world population owns 99 percent of the wealth and it is increasing, they have gained trillions of dollars during the pandemic.

Yunus stressed Covid has revealed that the gap between the poor and the rich in the world is expanding, which was created by the economic system before the pandemic erupted. That gap could generate an “explosive society”, exploding into anger sooner or later, and people are sitting on a ticking time bomb.

He said that kind of society is one of the ultimate disasters brought by an economic machine that people have been pursuing, which could be called “a bullet train”.

At present, when Covid has stopped that economic machine, people are worried about the collapse, fearing that it is not working anymore. However, Yunus saw that the train may take people to destruction has stopped. Therefore, they should celebrate it because people are “not heading for the suicidal part anymore.”

“Covid gave us an opportunity to get off the train, and decide which way to go.”

At this time, as everybody is trying to go back to the pre-pandemic situation, the train is restarting again, Yunus asked young people following his speech, “should we go back to it and ride it to the final destination of destruction? or we don’t ride it and build a new train to take us to a new direction?” He said a new train that brings happiness and safety to this planet should be built.

“And I have been trying to draw the attention of the young people to this issue.”

Prof. Muhammad Yunus in an engaging Q&A session moderated by Dr. Hoang Ha Thi (Lead Faculty of Entrepreneurship at YSEALI Academy)

The principle of profit maximization need to be eliminated

Yunus highlighted that the expanding gap between the wealthy and the impoverished is generated from the common goal of profit maximization, and that goal is set in economic theory.

According to that theory, Covid vaccine producers are building a wall of profit around their products. They raise the question: why should I give vaccines to others? I will give it to where I can maximize profit. For that reason, vaccine manufacturers do not listen to the request of waiving intellectual property rights, to allow vaccines to be produced in many places to save lives.

Similarly, profit maximization is the cause of other current problems in the mentioned “bullet train” that people are on, such as global warming.

Economists describe human beings as someone driven by self-interest but Yunus does not agree with them. He said it is just one aspect, the basic feature of human beings is the common interest. Therefore, each one should be described as an entity, which is driven by self interest as well as collective interest, including economic equality and global warming.

Yunus urged people to undo the old principle, to create a new kind of world where profit maximization is not the only way to do business.

“With that new world, people put their capacity to solve collective problems for common interests.”

the gioi ba khong anh 1

Source: Philosophie

The youth should not be trained as job seekers

Yunus stressed that people are having an education system treating them as job seekers. Schools say that with their certificates, receivers could be hired in the fastest way and get high payment.

Nonetheless, the moment a person gets a job, his or her process of creative capacity unleashing stops because people are driven by instructions or orders of the employers which are not their choices.

Yunus believed that human beings are packed with unlimited creative capacity and the life journey is about unleashing it. People could solve their own problems.

He recalled the fairy tale of a genie being put in a bottle, tightly packed, and thrown away. It is only when somebody takes it and opens up the bottle, the genie comes out. He compared the existing education system to a bottle that contains the “genie of human beings”. With that, people work for somebody in a tiny bottle.

“For that reason, I encouraged the college admission system to liberate young people, allowing them to imagine what they want to do.”

Responding to a question of a Vietnamese attendee about how the education system should be in the future, Yunus said it should be redesigned to help young people to turn into entrepreneurs.

He is confident that human beings are all born as entrepreneurs, but somehow economic theory has pushed people into a belief that only with good education and good skills, they are employable, otherwise they have no values.

He suggested that schools give two options to students, a job seeker, and an entrepreneur. If someone wants to change track, he or she can be free to do that. In this way, students could start a business when they are in school,

“Education system must include courses for students to imagine the world that they want to build.”

A chance to build a new road

Yunus stressed that with the appearance of Covid, young people now have a choice to make a big decision of “do they want to go back to the referred train, the old road?” If not, they have to build a new road to a new destination.

He said he believes the new direction towards “the target of three zeros” which were raised in his book published in 2018, is still valid. They are zero wealth concentration, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions.

Three Zeros: zero wealth concentration, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions

Accordingly, eliminating the principle of profit maximization could help people to achieve the goal of zero wealth concentration, and zero net carbon emissions, meaning there will be no global warming. Human life is about creating a better planet and handing it over to the next generation.

In fact, Yunus said there was an inventor, Jonas Salk, who devoted the formula of polio vaccine, which helped make the disease disappear. Salk said he created vaccines to solve problems and save people, his products would be like sunshine and nobody owns sunshine.

Answering a question from a participant in Indonesia about how to have a fairer economic status in the coming time, Yunus said people need to redesign economic theory, which should be based on human values, not money-making values. The story of profit from vaccines is the matter of millions of people who might die.

Additionally, Yunus encourages people to develop a social business that could be helpful for people who wish to be entrepreneurs. If everybody could become entrepreneurs, they can keep their own wealth and there will not be wealth concentration.

In reality, Yunus created Grameen Bank that does not demand collateral and lawyers, lending a tiny amount of money to women in rural areas in Bangladesh with existing over 9 million women as customers. The model now has been working in some countries in Europe, and the biggest one is running in the United States called Grameen America. It covers 17 cities with 27 branches, with 160,000 borrowers, all are women. The initial loan is $100,000 and the repayment date is over 99.5 percent.

Yunus stated that with Covid, people are at a crossroads in the future, choosing which road to go.

“Please don’t get back to the bullet train,” he told the young audience.

Viet Anh

Being a proud representative of Brunei, the country that chaired the ASEAN Summit 2021 with a focus on digital transformation, Marlina Ahmad shared that her journey with YSEALI and the YSEALI Academy’s flagship seminar on Technology and Innovation had been rather “unconventional”. Her profile is not one we usually envision when we think of a fellow leading in tech, yet her engagement on the topic is unparalleled. Marlina believes that digitalization is improving our way of life and our ways of working, regardless of what industry one sits in.

Tackling digitalization from a different angle

Marlina Ahmad is currently a Communications Advisor at Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), an energy company with more than 90 years of history employing 4000 professionals with over 20,000 business partners. Her position although intersects multiple industries is still far from what we usually think of when we hear technology and innovation.

Marlina (middle) at Brunei Shell Petroleum’s Digi/Tech Week

When the buzzword digital transformation pops up, most people would envision cool technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, those that help businesses run faster and smoother. But these technologies do more than enhance productivity. They also change how people communicate with each other, how businesses keep in touch with their customers, and how teams work with one another.

Digitalization has an opportunity to improve our ways of working does not matter what industry you sit in. I already do not fit the [tech innovation] profile in terms of industry, I do not even fit the profile in terms of expertise. But I firmly believe that having data-backed communications is very important.” – Marlina assessed.

While ‘Content is king’ has been a proven approach in communications for years, ‘Data is king’ has been gradually gaining traction and becoming a new rival trend. “You can spend weeks cultivating this seemingly perfect message but if it does not reach the right audience, all of that work can go down the drain.” Data is a measurement of success. It is a measurement for negotiation, especially in formulating KPIs for various deliverables.

Marlina shared that her main goal was to learn how to utilize data and technology to make communications more effective. Although she does not come in with a conventional motivation, it is still a very highly applicable motivation. In fact, in just a few months after the Digital Transformation seminar at YSEALI Academy, the fellow confessed that she found herself saying “I have learned [this] in [the YSEALI] seminar, maybe we can try doing [that]” on multiple occasions.

From a makeshift change to a sustainable digital adoption

Brunei Shell Petroleum is currently undergoing a digital transformation journey to address business problems by bringing greater efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace. The business modernization process was still ongoing when the pandemic hit, which prompted activities to be accelerated. Aside from new entrance passes for essential workers and extended bandwidth for work-from-home staff, communications were also shifted to a new platform.

One of the simplest examples is moving the notice board in the office to a makeshift notice board online, which may sound like a modest change, but it brings on so much more perks to all parties. From Marlina’s side, she can now generate data reading on headcounts, unique user account reached, and then identify trends for each news so that she can send out more relevant materials for the company.

In mere weeks, the company’s systems were upgraded to adapt to the new ways of working with a greater emphasis on going digital. Marlina was surprised by how people just naturally accepted digitalization ever since the pandemic. “We upgraded the system before this but did not fully embrace the transformation. Sometimes it is not about having the system, but rather about knowing how to work it. You are very dependent on who knows what to do with the data or realize that there are opportunities and data for us to grab on it.”

There is more than the technology and the infrastructure that powers digital transformation: more than anything else, mindset and the human capacity to handle such technologies are what matter most. “It is more important than ever to cultivate knowledge for digitalization and technology because we want to upskill our people and we’ve got to know how to do that,” Marlina stressed. Next year, the fellow will be moving to a new position involving even a wider range of stakeholders, and she is excited to integrate more concrete data-backed communications.

A holistic view with diverse schools of thoughts

While the technical lectures were greatly informative and applicable to her work, Marlina also found incredible value from the diverse schools of thoughts. “Technology and research can be read online anytime I want but encounters with different ways of thinking and exchanges of opinions are hard to find. Getting the right people in for a discussion and being exposed to new ways of looking at things, those are different, and those bears incredible value to me.”

She believes that information should be disseminated by practitioners. The fellow expressed immense satisfaction when she spoke about various interactive sessions in the seminar, especially ones that were paneled by leading industry experts, bringing in a very realistic and well-rounded pool of different perspectives and approaches.

Marlina at the launch of her published books: The BSP’s Energy Series

In addition to the rigorous schedule of lectures and panels, Marlina was particularly impressed with the YSEALI’s signature leadership workshops. Being a young professional in a large corporation, she reflected that sometimes it can be hard to acclimatize to certain ideas, like the traditional way of working or the corporate culture itself, and especially to leadership. Henceforth, the workshops were of tremendous help for Marlina to build her own style of leading.

“And most importantly, having so many representatives and young professionals within Southeast Asia also participating in the seminar was a brilliant experience! We get to meet people with different backgrounds and different skill sets, and we get to exchange a lot of information and knowledge.”

Marlina shared that although each country is on a unique track and each fellow joining the seminar is on their own way of becoming a regional leader, “rather than fixating on what makes us different, we decided to see what similarities we share”. The fellows all have a lot of aspirations, and they have a lot of drive, and “by learning with [them] and from [them], the seminar changed the way I view things and change the way I tackle different things at work.” Marlina is hopeful about a future where they can continue to collaborate with these newfound friends in a regional project and she cannot wait to explore all the amazing possibilities for her YSEALI fellows and for herself.

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