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ASEAN Leaders Programme: Adapting with a Common Purpose

September 07, 2016
“Culture is the foundation of success in any organisation,” declares Vikram Cardozo, Head of HR for GE ASEAN, speaking at the recent ASEAN Leaders event in Jakarta this August. And at the heart of any great culture, are the leaders which shape it. This is the principle that brings participants together for the ASEAN Leaders Programme, run by Common Purpose and sponsored by GE.
Common Purpose is an organisation that place the value of leadership at the heart of their work. They have over 20 years’ of global experience delivering leadership programmes to the world, from their base in the UK. With this, the inaugural ASEAN Leaders programme, brings together thought leaders from industry, government, not-for-profit organisations from a wide range of sectors and diverse backgrounds.

“People have been very excited, they want to speak. People want to come and meet a group like this, but they also want to share their stories so that people learn from that,” said Adirupa Sengupta, Chief Executive of Common Purpose for the ASEAN Region.

ASEAN Leadership

The ASEAN Leaders programme aims to deliver insight and nurture strong leadership by highlighting the value of diverse perspectives. In a region like ASEAN, that’s more important than ever.

“The diversity of ASEAN is phenomenal, the opportunity to connect and do something becomes a platform for us to replicate anywhere. You have the opportunity to have a huge impact,” said Vikram Cardozo, addressing the participants at the recent event in Jakarta.

“ASEAN is a vibrant, critical region that is not given enough shelf space. We thought it’s time to make a difference in that context. In that context, the shortage of leadership, people leadership, thought leadership, bringing people together in an innovative fashion. There’s a dire need.”

Innovation must be at the heart of any modern company, and developing the leadership to drive that innovation is central to the ASEAN Leaders programme. “Innovations are happening in the most unexpected places,” declares Adirupa Sengupta. In adapting to the unexpected, the ASEAN Leaders programme provides the tools to create leaders who can react.

Innovative cultures need smart leadership

If an organisation is to innovate, then that all-important culture is key. The right culture will be the foundation of any company’s sustainable growth and success in the future. This concept is something ASEAN Leaders must wrestle with through the course of the programme.

“Organisations that don’t change, leaders that don’t change, employers that don’t change or adapt, are going to be left behind. To drive that change, you need to make sure you’re working with the right kind of context,” argues Vikram Cardozo.

Addressing the participants of the GE Leaders Programme he further reaffirmed this claim “The way we look at culture - it’s about organisations, their values, their beliefs. It’s about how they treat employees, how they work with customers, how they treat the environment, how they treat people. It’s the how.”

He cites his experience at GE as an important example for others to follow. “We measure two things in GE. What you do is important, but how you do it is more important.”

Preparing for a changing world

The ASEAN Leaders programme isn’t just designed to prepare the leaders of tomorrow for the world of today, but provide them with the tools to adapt and manage change for the benefit of their organisations and ASEAN as a whole. This is a programme that aims to build leaders who are able to make fast decisions, are willing to take risks, and most important of all – with the ability to empower others.

“It’s not about governing, it’s about empowering. It’s about how can you make me better. As a leader I’ll work for you, because you’re the leader who differentiates my life,” argues Vikram Cardozo.

He goes on to praise the ASEAN Leaders programme’s diverse outlook and structure. “It’s a good mix of people… bringing together all different viewpoints. The diversity really stands out for me. You get the best answers, the best solutions, from a diverse perspective.”

The participants who offer those diverse perspectives set their own challenges as part of the ASEAN Leader’s programme, which tasks to work together towards addressing a common challenge. In this year’s programme, that challenge is around considering the issue of ‘Smart Cities’.

“Cities are where the hopes and dreams are, but also the challenges and frustrations. There’s a great determination to want to improve cities. Smart cities are exciting, broad, but not just about technology… It’s about education, infrastructure, health, environment, housing. At the heart of smart cities are people,” said Adirupa Sengupta, addressing this year’s theme.

Connecting the future

Smart cities may offer an immediate challenge for participants to tackle, but it is the future of the participants which the ASEAN Leaders programme is keen to nurture.

“This forum gives you a chance to connect. Unless you stay in touch, you will never do anything with it, both in terms of impact you have, and connections you’ve built.  It’s easy to get involved in your day to day work and forget about this, but you have an opportunity,” Vikram Cardozo argues passionately, addressing participants of the programme.

That opportunity is not limited to those in senior positions today, but the wider leaders of tomorrow. With the ASEAN Leaders Programme ‘Global Leader Experiences’, Common Purpose provide a stronger foundation for a successful future for ASEAN, enabling students from higher education institutions to participate in a three day placement in leading companies, helping develop vital leadership skills in the next generation.

Ultimately ASEAN Leaders is about developing leaders who can also empower others. It is a programme that seeks to deliver change. Change, more than anything, is what those leaders themselves need to adapt for.

“Even if you’re good, if you don’t get prepared, you get left behind.” Those are the words of Vikram Cardozo. With the ASEAN Leaders programme delivered by Common Purpose, sponsored by GE, we’re ensuring ASEAN’s leaders of tomorrow, aren’t those at risk of being left behind.