ASEAN Leaders Programme
A Common Purpose programme run in partnership with the ASEAN Foundation and the support of FWD and the UK FCO. Launched in Singapore in 2016 with the support of GE.

An annual Common Purpose leadership programme that brings together senior leaders from across the region to meet and address challenges and opportunities relevant to the ASEAN

The programme aims to help leaders in the region build strong connections, share knowledge, and develop the cultural intelligence required to grow ASEAN’s cities, realize the immense potential of the ASEAN Community and secure the future of its people for generations.

The Challenge for the ASEAN Leaders Programme 2019

"What makes a city smart and inclusive?"

Does a "smart city" equate to an "inclusive city"? What does it take to make a city both "smart" and "inclusive"? On the ASEAN Leaders Programme, we will find out how systems, sectors, leaders and people can cross boundaries to connect, collaborate and innovate to make cities both smart and inclusive, and equip citizens to face present and future challenges together.

Blended Learning

1 July – 31 December 2019

The journey begins on an online platform, where information exchange and knowledge sharing begins prior to the first face-to-face part of the ASEAN Leaders Programme in Singapore and continues online until the end of the year. 


15 – 19 July 2019

As Singapore leads the initiative for the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, it will be an exciting classroom for participants to begin their experiential learning process. They will develop a better understanding of the challenge through the lens of Singapore. 


10 – 13 September 2019

As the largest city in Thailand, Bangkok's potential to develop into a smart city falls in line with the Thailand 4.0 initiative. Participants will delve beneath the fabric of Bangkok to explore its impending growth and opportunities, gaining another dimension of insight into what it takes to build a smart city. 

Wouter van Wersch (President & CEO, GE ASEAN) and Elaine Tan (Director, ASEAN Foundation)

Huynh Thanh Phong, OBE, Group Chief Executive Officer, FWD Insurance

"The passion and enthusiasm of the Common Purpose team supporting this dynamic ASEAN Leaders Programme really won us over. FWD is building a pan-Asian insurance group, and ASEAN is crucial for our growth, so the development of leadership in ASEAN really resonates with us. At a personal level, being Vietnamese, and having also built and run several companies in the region, ASEAN has a strong personal and emotional connection for me. So, at every level, we are glad to be a part of this."

Participants on the ASEAN Leaders 2016 programme share what they have learnt

ASEAN Leaders Programme 2018 Outcomes


said they are better able to lead innovative resilient teams


said they are making better decisions


said they are more confident of accelerating complex changes

Headline sponsor

The ASEAN Leaders Programme is made possible with the support of FWD.

“In today's fast-paced, digital world, FWD supports the need to develop talented leaders who can empower their teams to innovate and adapt to this continual change, and who can work alongside the people in their communities to build a sustainable future for Asia. The ASEAN Leaders Programme and our partnership with Common Purpose gives us a unique opportunity to encourage the next generation of leaders to reach across boundaries, maximise their potential, and succeed together.”

Huynh Thanh Phong, Group CEO and Executive Director, FWD Group


The ASEAN Leaders Programme is made possible through support from the ASEAN Foundation.

"We are excited to partner with Common Purpose on this excellent initiative that brings senior leaders from ASEAN together to build connections across the region and work collaboratively to solve its common challenges.”

Elaine Tan, Executive Director, ASEAN Foundation

Supported by

The ASEAN Leaders Programme is made possible with the support of UKFCO. 

“ We are pleased to have helped to establish the ASEAN Leaders Programme and hope that all involved will remain in close contact with the UK. We look forward to continuing to work together with people in South East Asia from all sectors to find solutions to today’s most pressing concerns.”

Scott Wightman, British High Commissioner to Singapore

Saskia Hansen, Executive Director, International Partnerships and Development, RMIT University, Australia

“I was amazed that in such a short time..., I could grow an understanding of my own self. The cultural intelligence propositions of core and flex helped to test my own understanding of working with people and made me reflect on how other people respond, and react in particular situations. By a real, lived experience around testing my own, and others reactions to ideas and suggestions, means that I am now better equipped to do business in an internationally diverse, cultural dimension.”

Narita Hang Chuon first heard about Common Purpose from a friend who joined the ASEAN Young Leaders Programme back in 2003. Thirteen years on, her friend’s Common Purpose experience is still as relevant as ever and gave Narita more than enough reason to join the ASEAN Leaders Programme in 2016.

As the Head of Local Corporates for ANZ Royal Bank, Narita constantly works with numerous corporate clients and internal stakeholders that come from diverse backgrounds and different cultures.

“Before joining the program, I faced some challenges in dealing with people from different background and often faced a clash of priority with some stakeholders. With all these challenges I faced, I almost quit my work place.”

For Narita, her biggest takeaway from the ASEAN Leaders Programme was how Cultural Intelligence can help to drive success in a leadership position such as hers where every day she faces diversity and differences in culture – whether that’s with work, priorities, language or background.

“After I attended the ASEAN Leaders Programme, I learned a new concept - Cultural Intelligence (CQ). I used CQ by first trying to understand the culture of stakeholders that I deal with. Only by understanding and listening would I then be able to apply the right strategy at the right time. I realized that by putting myself in other people shoes, helping them to understand about me, my culture and my expectation while also understanding their culture and expectation was the key in crossing boundaries.”

Leading beyond the Workplace

The programme also helped to inspire Narita to use her knowledge and networks to help others within her community. Narita doesn't just challenge herself professionally, in her spare time she is a passionate advocate for women and is the instigator of a series of local projects providing education and opportunity for those girls who may not otherwise have reached their full potential.

Narita was recently elected as one of the board members of CWEA – Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association. CWEA supports women-owned businesses in Cambodia and empowers them to make a meaningful impact on the economic development of Cambodia. In this role, Narita will continue to lead and inspire the next set of leaders and help Phnom Penh become an inclusive city.

How to apply

Who should participate?

The ASEAN Leaders Programme is most suited for senior leaders who:

  • manage multiple stakeholders – internally and externally
  • lead diverse teams and job functions
  • seek to widen their perspectives
  • seek a better understanding of the ASEAN region

Participants will be drawn from different sectors and backgrounds across the region. 


Participant Fee: USD 10,000 (not inclusive of 7% GST). The fee includes all online modules as well as accommodation, meals and local transport for both programmes in Singapore and Bangkok. Please note that the fee does not include airfare, airport transfers, visa applications and insurance.

Limited scholarships and partially funded places are available for selected applicants who are genuinely unable to meet the fee criteria.

ASEAN Leaders Programme 2018 Report

Developing leaders in the ASEAN and the wider region

Syahira Hamidon, Head of Entrepreneurship & Public Private Research Network, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia

“I really didn't know what to expect, but after attending the programme, I must say it is not like any other I have attended before. All the programmes I have attended were at a government level. This one was at the level of people to people as opposed to government to government. It surprised me, and was much needed, too.”

Launched in Singapore in 2016, with the support of GE, the ASEAN Leaders Programme has been delivered in Singapore, Jakarta, New York, Manila and Pune. 

"At GE we believe that the individual excellence of people, and the collective progress that they will generate across all sectors and communities, will pave the way to success."

Wouter van Wersch, President & CEO, GE ASEAN

Advisory Group Members