ASEAN Leaders Programme
A Common Purpose programme launched in partnership with the ASEAN Foundation with the support of GE, FWD, and UK (FCO)

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.


Programme Schedule:

Part 1: Singapore 15 – 19 July 2019

Part 2: Bangkok 10 – 13 September 2019

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

Alvin Ng, General Manager, GE Digital, Singapore

“The exposure in experiential trips to various organizations was the main highlight. Coming from a corporate environment, I do not get to witness the other sides of the machinery. To see how the public sector, government bodies, corporates, and not for-profit come together and make things work was the most impactful insight for me. It was heartening to observe that all are driven by the common theme of sustainability and impact.”

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

ASEAN Leaders Programme 2017 Outcomes


Further developed their own leadership


Gained broader networks 


Made better decisions


Enhanced their ability to drive bold innovation

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 Government level. This one was at the level of people to people as opposed to Govt to Govt. It surprised me, and was much needed, too.”

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

"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

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

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 can apply?

Participants on the ASEAN Leaders Programme will be drawn from different sectors and backgrounds across the region. We are looking for individuals who are:

  • Exceptional leaders operating at a senior, strategic level in their organisation and/or society
  • Able to demonstrate significant influence in their current role
  • Close to the pinnacle of their career with ambition to achieve even more
  • Passionate about the potential of the ASEAN region and excited about the opportunity provided by the programme

Participant Fees: USD 10,000. The fee covers all accommodation, meals and local transport during the programme. Ability to pay is not a criterion for selection. Scholarships and partially funded places are available for applicants who are genuinely unable to meet the fee criteria.

Ambassador Hung Seng Tan, Permanent Representative of Singapore to ASEAN

“The ASEAN Leaders Programme promises to be an exciting platform for leaders from our region to interact, exchange ideas and build networks. The Programme has the potential to nurture the next generation of ASEAN leaders, who, to quote Mr S Rajaratnam, Singapore’s first Foreign Minister, are able to 'marry national thinking with regional thinking'.”

Advisory Group Members