Date: 25 – 28 November 2010 (Thursday – Sunday)
Venue: Hotel Melia Bali
Global Alumni Network Office
NUS Business School Jakarta Alumni Chapter
It was one of the best ways to wind down the NUS Business School’s year-long 45th Anniversary celebrations; a break in Bali – no less – with family, friends, and fresh perspectives on the future of business in Asia. Find out how it went at the inaugural Global Alumni Summit 2010, held in the last week of November.
The objective was a serious one – the summit was to discuss developments in the regional markets since the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) came into effect on 1 January 2010. But those who attended came away with more than just fodder for the brain. Their memories would be packed with the fun and laughter they shared with a large global group, which even the rains could not subdue.
No Rain Could Dampen
And how it rained! Even as the main group arrived on the first day, Thursday, 25 November, it rained. Fortunately, they were happily distracted with a sumptuous lunch hosted by a fellow alumnus who owned a Chinese restaurant in Kuta Plaza. When the rain eventually eased, the delegates were able to enjoy the Waterbom Park in Kuta and, later, savour the sights, sounds and flavours of Kuta town.
There was further excitement when it poured again mercilessly, causing the area to flood slightly. The delegates were relived when the waters and weather subsided enough to allow them to wade over to the buses waiting to take them to their hotel.
The lush and plush five-star Melia Bali Villas and Spa Resort and Nusa Dua was a welcome refuge after the day’s roller-coaster events. The tired delegates felt especially pampered as the agents and ground crew of CTC Travel saw them through their entire check-in process. Then, they could finally sink into the lap of luxury.
Meeting of Hearts and Minds
It was down to the serious stuff the next day. Associate Professor Quek Ser Aik, Vice Dean of Graduate Studies at NUS Business School, gave a welcome address to the 78 people who attended the forum discussion, “The China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement: Increasing Investment and Trade Flow”, held in the hotel’s premises. Speaker Dr Zhao Hong, Senior Research Fellow at the NUS East Asian Institute, had a rapt audience in the morning. In the afternoon, a lively discussion ensued with a panel comprising Peter Tay (MBA 1987), Executive Chairman of TPS Group of Companies; Dharma Surya (APEX MBA 1998), President Director of PT, Daya Sakti Group; and Zeng Yuan Ming (APEX-C MBA 2006), General Manager of Guangzhou Zhi Dao Real Estate Investment Management and Consulting Co Ltd.
What became clear and undeniable is that the growing markets in India and China would drive Asia to increasingly play an important role in the global economy. The forum threw up ideas for business opportunities within the current context of CAFTA.
Serious discussions amidst the relaxed ambience provided an ideal backdrop where creative and critical thinking could meet halfway on neutral grounds; while the common platform allowed cross-border investment opportunities to surface. Providing the perfect setting for such developments and breakthrough ideas – this was one of the success factors of the Global Alumni Summit. The knock-on effect of these will be multiplied as businesses begin to expand and grow more jobs, creating cross-border career opportunities.
Feeling Body and Mind
Fodder for the brain was followed by even better fodder for the body at diner time. The tables were groaning from the laden weight of an international buffet spread, in honor of a gala dinner hosted by GANO. The open-air beach setting and star-lit sky added a touch of enchantment to the evening, especially as Bali has always been considered a land of magic and mystique.
The delegates, who had been hard at work at the forum, were united with their families who had also been hard at work – shopping and sightseeing.
The dinner was also an opportunity for the delegates hailing from different cities to share what the NUS Business School alumni chapters in their respective cities had done in 2010 and their plans for 2011. Singapore’s Aw Beng Teck, Director of GANO, started the ball rolling. There were also delegates from Bali, Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Jiangsu and Shanghai. It was thus a very good networking session for all, in the very best of ambience – no pressure, no work hassles, away from the daily grind. As Yeoh Cheang Teik (BBA 1981), President of the Kuala Lumpur Alumni Chapter said, “It’s a great opportunity to meet and strengthen the NUS Business School Alumni network further across the Asian region”.
The evening ended in typical Balinese fashion, to the strains of the “fire dance” and “Kecak”, a form of Balinese music drama, depicting the story of the Ramayana.
Rewarding Time Out
Everyone still had a full day of fun to look forward to. On Saturday, the third day on the island, the group headed for Ubud, known for being Bali’s cultural and heritage centre. Everyone had a taste of silver-smithing and traditional Balinese handicrafts at the stops. Some could not resist buying the exquisite pieces on hand.
The highlight of the day was to arrive at the historical and heritage site, the temple at Tanah Lot by the sea. The weather was truly clement, allowing the delegates to wander along the beach and up onto the hills. Some even ventured into the swirly waters of the sea, onto Tanah Lot and into the temple to get the blessings of the Balinese priests.
It was in this reflective and philosophical mood that the delegates arrived at Jimbaran beach for dinner. Therefore, even the rains, which poured down just as dinner began, could not dampen their spirits. Everyone simply ran into the shelter of the restaurant and carried on with gusto. They upped the merriment quotient to spring a surprise birthday cake and sing birthday songs in three languages for alumna Nancy Widjaja, who was celebrating her 65th birthday. The school spirit was undeniable. Zhangjin James (MBA 2009), Exco Member of the NUS Business School East China Alumni Network, said, “This is a wonderful event on a beautiful island. All participants made it a fruitful gathering.” Appreciating the significance of such a Summit, he added, “I expect the Summit to be held, one day, in China.”
It was a memorable way to end the inaugural Global Alumni Summit and, by all accounts, people were anxious to maintain the momentum. Yiru Thomassen (MBA 2000), 1st Vice-President of the NUS Business School Mandarin Alumni indicated as much when she said, “I am so delighted to attend this Summit organised by GANO and the NUS Business School Jakarta Alumni Chapter. We had the chance to know more alumni members from Indonesia, China, Malaysia and Singapore, and also to forge new friendships with many during these four days. I’m looking forward to joining another alumni event in the near future. Well done!”
Growing – and Growing with – the Region
There is indeed a strong base of talent within NUS alumni. But a global outlook requires a common identity for a better perspective. This is where, as alumni of NUS Business School, participants already have a strong foundation upon which they can interact, engage and better understand cross-border needs. Collectively, the School and its various alumni associations provide a framework that engenders trust, knowledge and, most importantly, the infrastructure for alumni to stay connected through their alma mater. And this Global Alumni Summit – as well as future ones – will continue to be a driving force and catalyst for alumni to make great strides as Asia marches forward.