Gen.T Tribe: Insights And Advice From Some Of The Industry Experts Who Helped Us Select The Gen.T List 2021
To ensure the Leaders of Tomorrow selected for the Gen.T List are of the highest calibre, we consult an external panel of industry heavyweights, The Tribe, who nominate and help us to review the most promising candidates in each industry.
The Tribe is made up of a broad spectrum of experienced founders, leaders and thinkers, all hailing from different industries and across Asia—and all bearing valuable knowledge about their area of expertise, including the new generation of leaders disrupting them. This year, the 2021 Tribe comprises 47 such experts.
Four of them share what went through their minds when they were selecting this year's Leaders of Tomorrow, and weigh in on what they think about leadership and impact creation.
What makes a respectable leader for you?
A leader is respected because he or she earned it. Rising to prominence in one’s field means being a selfless, servant leader whose views on issues, challenges and opportunities are thoughtful. Hopefully, actions taken on these items also impact a large number of stakeholders in a positive manner.
What change do you hope the next generation of leaders will bring to your industry?
Traditionally, one can say that I have been in the financial services industry. Lately, that has really converged into the technology field delivering banking and financial services. It is my earnest hope that with this "fourth revolution"—brought about by technology—the next generation of leaders can bring about a wide level of inclusion, and provide access to services and products that the widest group of people can benefit from and uplift their personal situations.
If you could share one piece of advice to the Gen.T community, what would it be?
There is always much to learn and so much more to do. So I would say take in as much knowledge—from listening to mentors and discussing with peers to learning from courses—and put goals and an action plan together, and execute. You’ll need to be agile and tweak those plans as you go along. And remember, there is no substitute for hard work.
Strong leadership is a group activity, not a solo act
— Paul Ark
Paul Ark (Polapat Arkkrapridi)
Advisor, Gobi Partners
What do you believe makes a leader great?
Strong leadership is a group activity, not a solo act. You can’t be a great leader if you don’t have great followers behind you allowing you to lead them. So a great leader is someone who can inspire others around a vision, and inspire others to action in service of that vision.
Good leadership isn’t about wielding authority, but being able to attract quality people, being able to empower those quality people, and then nurture and inspire those quality people to take initiative and give their best efforts.
Another aspect of being a great leader is the ability to do the right thing and make the hard choices, even if those choices aren’t the most popular ones. It is the hallmark of the great leader to take upon themself the burden of making the hard choices for the overall well-being of the organisation.
What went through your mind when you were nominating and vetting the candidates of this year’s Gen.T List?
The words that flashed through my mind when I was asked to nominate candidates were "substance over style". I wanted to see candidates get recognition for what they have actually achieved and the potential for what they will achieve, rather than just a reaffirmation of those who already have high-brand recognition or large social media followings. I selected candidates for an honour roll, not for a popularity contest, so I focused on tangible impact instead of media presence or star quality.
What does the future of venture capital in Asia look like to you?
It is a kaleidoscope. The industry is a diverse, patchwork quilt of professionals from different regions, genders, backgrounds, capabilities, and perspectives all providing capital to a similarly diverse pool of entrepreneurs from different regions, genders, backgrounds, capabilities, and perspectives.
If you look at venture capital in places like Silicon Valley with a century-old history, the industry has largely been homogenous: predominantly white males with Ivy League degrees with work experience from white-shoe investment banks and management consultancies or top-tier tech companies, struggling to inject greater diversity in its ranks. That has been a slow process.
VC in Asia is a relatively young industry, with the potential to bake in diversity much more easily in a much earlier stage of the industry’s lifecycle.
What change do you hope the next generation of leaders brings?
Much of my work today involves sustainability, so it is exciting to see an emerging generation of leaders integrate all aspects of sustainability in their thinking, actions, creations, careers, consumption, everything. Advocating for a more inclusive, sustainable planet means that this generation cannot afford to wait until previous generations make room or clear the way for them to lead, but rather take the initiative, take bold action and show the rest of us the way forward.
Programme head, Philip Yeo Initiative, NUS Enterprise
What do you believe makes a good leader?
Those who are able to appreciate others, be respectful and earn trust. Good leaders know how and when to give credit and show their appreciation for others, even if it's simply thanking them for their hard work. Good leaders are also able to identify the strengths and interests of those around them. And good leaders know that in order to be respected, you have to first give respect.
What change in the area of social impact do you hope this next generation of leaders brings?
I hope that they can help people to exit poverty, help to create a more diverse and inclusive society, help to create more positive impact on the environmental and sustainability front, and help to build more social awareness in general.
If you could give one piece of advice to the budding entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Entrepreneurs need to find a sustainable way of creating impact that’s also scalable. It’s not just about passion but practicality as well—if your idea or business isn't sustainable, how will you be able to create a long-lasting impact?
See also: Property Tycoon Cecil Chao And His Daughter Gigi On Building A Lasting Legacy
Entrepreneurs need to find a sustainable way of creating impact that’s also scalable. It’s not just about passion but practicality as well
— Claire Cheong
Consulting leader, PwC Malaysia, and sustainability and climate change leader, PwC’s South East Asian Consulting Services
What do you think makes a leader respectable?
Great leaders serve a worthy cause, which makes selflessness a big part of being a respected leader. They help their organisations and the people that they lead reach their goals, oftentimes ahead of their own personal success, and take pride in the accomplishments of others. Naturally, there needs to be a passion for the work that they do, and authenticity in their values and relationships with people that allows them to achieve long-term results for the organisation.
Having the courage to consider the needs of the many over the needs of the few—a quote by Spock from Star Trek that’s always stuck with me—is something that good leaders are able to do. And communicating this with empathy will go a long way to nurture your people and company over time.
What went through your mind when you were nominating candidates and helping to vet this year’s Gen.T List?
My team and I had our work cut out for us! There were so many deserving people doing amazing things. We found it helpful to get a diverse range of perspectives when putting our nominees together, and our nominees ended up being those we felt had made notable social and environmental impact.
I’m passionate about sustainability and I’ve made it my life’s work to help organisations and the communities they serve create value from sustainability. And in this time we’re living in, the awareness and demand for sustainability and positive impact have never been more important.
So when I was thinking about the generation of leaders who are changing the world for the better, those making the most impact on the key issues of today, including social and environmental issues, were the ones that I wanted to highlight. I considered the impact they’re making by the breadth and reach, and by the relative degree of uplift they’ve made in improving lives. It’s all the more impressive when you consider the challenges they have had to overcome to make their impact, because it makes their successes that much more meaningful.
What change in the area of environmental sustainability do you hope the new generation of leaders brings?
I am hopeful when I come away from my interactions with young leaders, as well as future leaders in the making, that they want to do well by doing good. I’m optimistic that they are purpose-driven in their goals, and are more socially and environmentally aware.
Although they are set to inherit a more challenging world than one that their parents’ and grandparents’ generations were born into, the wide-ranging impact that this year’s Gen.T Leaders of Tomorrow hasve made shows that our next generation is determined to be change-makers. And it is the responsibility of leaders of this generation to prepare them with the skills and confidence they need to convert their values and awareness into action.
Co-founder and general partner, Alpha JWC
What went through your mind when you were nominating candidates and helping to vet this year’s Gen.T List?
As I went through the profiles of the nominees, I was looking for someone driven, motivated, passionate, innovative and solving big problems.
What, to you, makes a leader respectable?
Respectable leaders should be visionary and dare to take risks. They must strive to create a good culture within their organisation and continuously increase the learning curve for the whole company. Most of all, leaders must be responsible. With great power comes great responsibility. This responsibility is not only in professional contexts, but also in personal and social relationships. It's their responsibility to pay it forward, to empower others.
What changes do you hope the next generation of leaders brings to your industry?
I hope they bring boldness as well as innovations that create a huge impact in improving lives in this world. In the past, not many were brave enough to start their own ventures. Now, the younger generation is more open to entrepreneurship, innovation, problem-solving, risk-taking, and not settling for traditional day-to-day jobs. I’m expecting even more innovation to come from these young people and in turn, from those who they inspire along the way.
The Gen.T List 2021 will be unveiled in September. Read expert insights and advice from our 2020 Tribe.