Welcome Address by Professor Freddy Boey, Provost, Nanyang Technological University

23 March 2015

Mrs Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State for Finance & Transport,
Mr Chua Thiam Poh, Chairman, Business China, and the Business,
China Board of Directors,
IE Singapore,
Participants of the Future China Advanced Leaders Programme 2015,
Ladies and gentlemen,

This morning we woke up to the sad news that Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father, has passed away. Mr Lee’s contributions to Singapore are immense and have touched the lives of many. One of his lasting legacies is Singapore’s world-class education system.

From the start, Mr Lee had a bold vision for Singapore as a modern, prosperous nation. Without any natural resources, he saw that education would be the great equaliser and key to the nation’s survival. Together with his team, Mr Lee laid the foundations of a first-class education system where every Singaporean had access to good quality education.

Today, Singapore universities are at the forefront of teaching and research and known globally for it. It is also because of education that we are here today. Lifelong learning is an important part of Singapore’s education policy. The Future China Advanced Leaders Programme is an excellent example of how universities are working closely together with industry to develop relevant programmes for Singapore, the region and beyond.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are honoured and delighted to have Mrs Josephine Teo as our Guest of Honour for tonight’s event. Mrs Teo, it was your idea to develop a programme focused on nurturing China-savvy Singaporean talents who will form the core of our future business leaders. The Future China Advanced Leaders Programme flowed forth from that good idea. Thank you for your foresight and for planting the seed.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr Lee Yi Shyan is unable to join us tonight.  Mr Lee Yi Shyan has personally led our programme delegation to China for the past two years and will do so once again this year. His untiring and enthusiastic efforts to cultivate the support of senior China officials for the programme have contributed immensely to its content.

The program’s success has been helped along significantly by the wisdom of our valued partner, the Board of Business China. Mr Chua, thanks to you and your board for your partnership.

I’d also like to thank our important partner IE Singapore for its ardent support.

The Programme is four years old now, and I understand that many of you are here because previous participants strongly encouraged you to take part. I’m confident you will find their recommendation well-founded and hope that, as programme alumni, you, too, will encourage future leaders to attend.

The quality of this programme is both reflected in and derived from the talents of you who participate. Many participants have been working in China for more than a decade. Their participation demonstrates the fact that to navigate successfully in the vast and dynamic China market, we need to constantly refresh our knowledge. Sometimes, that means we need to unlearn what we presumed to have known well and taken for granted, then relearn with a deeper and wider appreciation of the latest developments. To accomplish this, we must approach the task with a curious mind and an insatiable appetite. We hope you will find the programme content amply suited to both tasks.

Because the business environment in China is a fast evolving one, we refine the programme content each year to keep pace with its evolution. Updates to programme content take into account ideas from previous classes, input from the Business China Board and the best wisdom of all involved in its design.

This year’s programme is further enriched by wide-ranging topics such as Chinese business models and China’s internet economy.  Besides the portion here in Singapore, participants will carry on their learning journey in two second-tier cities of strategic importance: Wu Han and Chang Sha.

There will be plenty of networking opportunities throughout the programme. To the participants, I hope you will build good connections. As we all know, guan xi, interpersonal relationships and one’s social network, is a magic wand in China. Guan xi opens door to opportunities and solves problems.

However intensive, it is impossible for this three-week programme to encompass every aspect of the China market environment. Rather, what the programme intends to achieve is providing you with important exposure and a fruitful environment for learning and communicating; as the Chinese saying goes: 抛砖引玉(pao zhuan yin yu), the programme throws a brick to attract jade.

May the program inspire you and set you on the road to successful business ventures!

Enjoy your studies! Thank you.