Zheng He’s Art of Collaboration Forum 2015

Date: 10 October 2015, Saturday
Time: 8:30 am – 12:45 pm
Venue: Shaw Foundation Alumni House
Organiser: Global Alumni Network Office and Langdon and Seah Singapore and the International Zheng He Society

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It was a highly informative session for the 130 alumni and guests who dedicated their Saturday morning to the Zheng He’s Art of Collaboration Forum on 10 October 2015 at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House.

Zheng He Photo3 Zheng He Photo1 Co-organised by GANO, Langdon and Seah Singapore and the International Zheng He Society, and supported by NUS Business School Alumni Association, Mandarin Alumni and MBA Alumni-NUS, the forum featured Professor Hum Sin Hoon, Deputy Dean of NUS Business School, as the keynote speaker. This year marked the seventh reprint and third anniversary of his landmark book, Zheng He’s Art of Collaboration, and his presentation enlightened attendees on the seven lessons that he had learned from Zheng He since publishing his book. His talk proved that the Zheng He philosophy is still relevant in business today.

Prof Hum’s views resonated deeply with Kelvin Eu (UCLA-NUS-EMBA 2012). “I support the Zheng He methodology,” he said. Fellow alumni Wan Tuck Wah (BAcc 1967) concurred. “The Zheng He story has always been inspiring and his leadership methods are still applicable today,” he said. Despite having attended the talk previously, Tuck Wah found the event this time round no less useful. “It’s great to hear from three different perspectives rather than one,” he said. “I always pick up something new.”

The presentations by guest speakers Dr Lim Tai Wei, a senior lecturer at SIM University (uniSIM) and researcher of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) policy, and Mr Wong Heang Fine, Group CEO of Surbana Jurong Private Limited, also impressed the audience. Dr Lim provided a comprehensive background to the history of the Silk Road and the introduction of OBOR back in 2011, and highlighted the benefits that OBOR is set to bring to Central Asia. The topic was a timely one given how quickly this foreign policy is gathering pace. Kelvin Tey (BBA 2001) echoed the thoughts of many when he shared, “OBOR interests me and I’m here to learn more.”

Jimmy Lim (APEX-MBA (English) 2001) agreed. “It was interesting to hear how the 64 nations are working in collaboration on the Silk Road,” he said. “We live in a global environment where conquer and rule is no longer a viable strategy so collaboration is a crucial element in business today.”

Mr Wong’s presentation illustrated the latter point perfectly. Recognising that collaboration is key if a project’s vision is to be realised, he has consistently put into practice the theory of the art of collaboration – and achieved results by collaborating from a position of strength. “I didn’t see Prof Hum’s presentation beforehand but it was amazing to see how similar our presentations were in terms of how collaboration is crucial for success in today’s business climate,” he commented.

Dr Tan Ta Sen, President of the International Zheng He Society, also expressed his pleasure at being able to participate in the Q&A session. “I wasn’t able to commit to speaking at today’s event initially as I was supposed to be in Beijing,” he explained. “But my trip was cancelled so I’m glad that I was able to take part today. Our society exists to promote the legacy of Zheng He and his spirit and encourage research on his journeys and it is encouraging that so many alumni turned out today.”

Aside from gaining new knowledge, the session also gave alumni a great opportunity to reconnect with former classmates and lecturers. “The whole concept of Zheng He and his trade missions is amazing. It shows a different approach to trade and relationships,” Edward Ta (BAcc 1987) enthused. “But it was also good to catch up with fellow classmates.” Fellow alumni Cem Karci (APEX-MBA (English) 2014) expressed similar sentiments. “I’m glad to show my support for Prof Hum today. I learnt about Zheng He from my lessons with him and since my current industry is shipping, I’m keen to learn more.”

Kelvin Ng Yu Ngee, Director of Langdon and Seah Singapore and emcee for the event, was pleased with the turnout. “The three speakers complemented one another well,” he commented, “and I found today’s Q&A session particularly interesting. The audience posed a greater number of questions and went into greater depth than we usually experience.” Chairperson for the Q&A session, Teoh Wooi Sin, Joint Managing Director of ARCADIS Project Management Pte Ltd, did an excellent job moderating the session, directing relevant questions to the right speakers.

We would like to say a big thank you to all our co-organisers, sponsors and the three alumni associations, without whom the forum would not have been such a success!

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