“I was able to use the principles learned at the ASEAN Leaders Programme to dynamically lead my own organization; by understanding cultural differences; and applying such understanding towards nurturing high performances grounded on solidarity. While the focus was “Smart Cities”, the principles of cultural intelligence – 'CQ', and collaboration, are applicable to different types of organizations. The concept may actually be expanded to cover leading “Smart Organizations” rather than just cities.”

During the ASEAN Leaders Programme 2016, I learned that Smart Cities harness technology to enable meaningful and fulfilling lives for all citizens. To achieve this, smart leaders are expected to be citizen-centric; culturally intelligent; and creative.

I expanded the concept of smart cities to smart organizations, that would take care of their people. While there is a need to develop leaders who are innovative, and have a collaborative mindset, it is equally important for organizations to support the same. It is also key for leaders in any organization to create an environment conducive to collaboration, and I believe this would happen with cultural intelligence or 'CQ', and the exchange of ideas.

In government, leaders are often conservative, and reluctant to implement 'smart cities',  as they would prefer to maintain targets that are rapidly achievable, rather than set high targets and get dramatic results for their provinces. I felt there is a need here, to make leaders look outward; broaden their outlook; gain new perspectives; and learn from other sectors and industry, in order to give impetus to their leadership journey.

At the ASEAN Leaders Programme 2016, we presented the ASEAN 'Smart City' Festival, an idea generated in response to the programme challenge of “What makes a city smart?” We suggested an annual event that would celebrate progress; facilitate the exchange of ideas; and build a sense of ‘Smart City’ in communities across the ASEAN. 

This year, 2017, is the 50th anniversary of the ASEAN, and with Philippines holding the chair during this landmark year, I thought it significant to launch the ASEAN 'Smart City' Festival, in Manila, in September. The festival will promote what I feel is key to progress and innovation – the exchange of ideas and best practices by leaders from across sectors and organizations. Senior leaders from succesful international and local organizations, will share their knowledge and expertise with provincial leaders. The idea is to expose leaders in the provinces to  practices followed in different organizations and ecosystems, so that they would take away not only ideas to improve what they do, but to do so while engaging their organizations as well.

The 'Smart City' festival will adopt CQ as a learning platform for participants at the festival, as I strongly feel that the capacity to change mindsets, is vital in order to enable innovation. Speakers will also share ideas about the role played by technology to aid innovation.

The festival will showcase organizations, and cities, that have already applied the concept of smart leadership, to encourage others to employ similar concepts, and transform provinces.

I am also thrilled that the second leg of the ASEAN Leaders Programme this year, will run in Manila, giving participants the opportunity to see how an idea in response to the challenge can be implemented.