Top corporate executives share their insights on leadership excellence in an ever-evolving world at the Educator’s Summit 2012.
By Joshua Chang
The Educator’s Summit 2012 on Leadership Excellence and Challenges saw educators and civil servants coming together to distil some of the best practices in the corporate sector. In its fourth year running, the event was conceptualized from the idea that the interconnected world of today is perpetually going through deep changes, hence the need for organizations from the commercial and education sectors to evolve continually.
Leaders, be they the head of schools or companies, must look at obstacles through a different set of lens rather than comply with old ideals, habits and processes; they must continually embrace new ideas in order for their organizations to grow, evolve and thrive.
Dr Low Lee Yong, a medical doctor and founder/CEO of MHC Asia Group, shared a heartfelt personal account of leadership in difficult times. Using jokes and personal anecdotes, Low retold his childhood dream of becoming a doctor and the steps that he took to arrive at where he is at today. Emphasizing the importance of values such as integrity and resilience, he said that one must be committed to his or her beliefs in order to make it through difficult times while staying true to oneself.
Claire Chiang, the senior vice president of Banyan Tree Holdings, shared on the need for innovation in leadership. While some companies only innovate when they face problems, others see it as a continual, ongoing and sustainable process. Very often, it is those in the latter group who are ahead of the rest, being able to adapt faster to various changes as there is already a culture of innovation in place.
Together with her husband Ho Kwon Ping and his brother, Kwon Cjan, Chiang started the Banyan Tree Concept. As they were building the first Banyan Tree resort on an abandoned tin mine in Phuket, the company came up with the idea of having pool villas and spas to compensate for the lack of a beach front. This innovation came out of the need to do something in order to attract guests. “Ever since we started Banyan Tree, we have not stopped thinking about good ideas,” she said. Since then, the company has been the leading operator in boutique resorts worldwide despite crises that have adversely affected the hospitality industry.
Not only that, some of the ideas that have contributed to Banyan Tree’s success today originated from the company’s 12,000 associates who are responsible for creating “daily magic” for the guests. Experimentation and exploration of ideas are part of the culture of “structured innovation” that staff are encouraged to live out.
Other key speakers included Rob Morton, senior consultant from Disney Institute, and Lucas Chow, executive director of property developer Far East Organization. Approximately 350 educators and public service executives attended the full-day event.