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

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

"What makes a city resilient?"

While most cities in ASEAN, have entered a post pandemic crisis phase, Leaders are now faced with managing the new normal, calling for both resilience and action to guide systems, organizations and people through these uncertain times.

As with all crises, there is opportunity here as well- to reimagine economic resilience, and be hubs of innovation and creativity, and drivers of social change. However, the disruptive forces and pace of change puts pressure on the systems, infrastructure and human capital of our cities.

Resilience will become the way of being, if leaders wants to build a solid foundation to navigate the road ahead.

So what will it take cities to be resilient enough to survive the pressures, adapt to the speed of change and grasp the opportunities ahead?

As the impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt across the world, we have made some relevant updates to the ASEAN Leaders Programme.


  18 May–16 July 2022

Synchronous Module 1

  31 May–3 June 2022

Synchronous Module 2

  12–15 July 2022

Alumni reconnect (TBD)

  September 2022, November 2022, March 2023

Participants engage with each other on the online learning portal on a continuous basis.

Wouter van Wersch (Former 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."

Impact of the ASEAN Leaders Programme


are better able to lead or operate within a diverse team = improvement in leading modern resilient teams


recognize the value of bringing in wider perspectives when making key decisions = making  better decisions


feel better prepared to lead a diverse team = more confident of accelerating complex changes

ASEAN Leaders 2019 programme

ASEAN Leaders 2016 Programme

Current & past sponsors

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

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

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

Pauline Sahetapy, Head – Global Key Clients & AP Government Engagement Learning, Visa Inc

“I am passionate about inclusive leadership and constantly try to explore new ways to unravel it for myself and for my stakeholders and partners. At the ASEAN Leaders Programme, what struck me was the importance of perspectives and how they impact one’s approach to leadership. I loved the field visits as it provided so many different perspectives and such great learnings from the interaction with the various companies. Was also honoured to host the participants of the 2019 cohort at VISA with our senior leadership, in an invigorating conversation around leadership, financial inclusion and smart and inclusive cities through the lens of VISA.”

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 the real-time online learning as well as accommodation, meals and local transport for the face-to-face elements of the programmes, subject to travel restrictions.

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

ASEAN Leaders Programme 5-year Report

Developing leaders in the ASEAN and the wider region

Sochheka Ong, Head of Bancassurance, Sovannaphum Life Assurance PLC

“The Core and Flex framework changed me – it’s opened my eyes and has helped me to adapt to different people, without losing my own values. The Common Purpose programme helps you to bring diverse groups together – it’s one of the best programmes I have ever been on.”

Advisory Group Members