Grooming leaders for the global age

Thelma Yim and Karen Lai


What are the qualities of the 21st century leaders? This was the question of the day at the opening session of the fifth annual Student Leadership Conference (SLC), 7 -11 June. CityU invited more than 120 student leaders from prominent universities in Hong Kong, the mainland, Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan to exchange views on issues related to the theme “Achieving Equilibrium: Asia in the Process of Globalization”. 


"By hosting the Conference, we aim to foster friendship among university students around the world,” said Ms Roanne Law, Chairperson of the Student Organizing Committee. The Committee, comprising 21 CityU students, was formed to plan and coordinate the conference, with guidance and help from Student Development Services (SDS). “The SLC is also our best chance to share with other participants how we think Asia should adapt to the globalized market and contribute to the world,” Roanne added. Globalization, a prevailing trend causing rapid political and economic development in the Southeast Asia, was the chosen theme because it forces new leaders in the region to play increasingly challenging roles on the world stage.


Challenges of the 21st century

"Hong Kong graduates should have a vision of providing professional services for the huge population on the mainland," said Council Chairman Sir Gordon Wu who officiated at the opening ceremony. In his keynote speech, “Challenges Facing the 21st Century Graduates”, Sir Gordon said graduates nowadays face more challenges than graduates in the 1950s. Facing the changing political and social systems, new technologies, and ideologies, he urged graduates of the 21st century to make full use of modern technologies, to have a good grasp of the world and to apply their knowledge in their field of expertise. "This long, but fruitful, process is the pre-requisite for success" he said.



When asked about the values and qualities of  21st century leaders, Sir Gordon encouraged students to be compassionate to others and to develop a genuine interest in other people and their welfare. “Leadership is your ability to help others and to bring out their best capabilities,” he said. On the topic of resources and support conducive for learning and growth, he elaborated that good leadership is important for the wise allocation of resources -- essential for prosperity and advancement of a country.


Learning in a multicultural environment

Launched in 2000, the SLC aims to encourage university students to develop themselves and excel as future leaders, with the vision of contributing to the betterment of society and nations. In January this year, the Student Organizing Committee took a trip to Singapore during which students explored the education system, the trade environment, and acquired a better understanding of how to respect others and maintain harmony in a multicultural country. Mr Sam Leung, External

Vice Chairperson of the Committee, said that through participating in such a large-scale conference, he developed leadership skills in a real-life, multicultural environment. The trip to Singapore deepened his understanding of multicultural issues and inspired new ideas for making the Conference a success.


At the opening ceremony, Vice-President (Undergraduate Education) Professor Edmond Ko said "As CityU is celebrating its 20th Anniversary and striving to become a leading university in the region, I welcome you 20-year-olds who are also on your way to becoming leaders in Asia."


"Asia is developing rapidly. This is a great opportunity to gain new insights from interaction with student leaders from different cultural backgrounds," said Ms Feng Bo, a final-year Shanghai Jiao Tong University student. Apart from addressing issues, participants also looked forward to new experiences and friendship. Ms Farrah Shafeera Ibrahim, a second-year University of Malaya student, expected to gain leadership skills required in the current globalizing world. She believed the Conference not only strengthened her link with the rest of the world, but also enhanced her leadership skills. She searched the Web for information about Hong Kong and CityU before setting off on her first trip here.


Mr Mohd Hairi Bin Hashim and Mr Haron B Arip, second-year students of the Universiti Sains Malaysia, anticipated that the Conference would help them develop their communication skills and expand their network. They jumped at the chance find out more about Chinese cultural values.




Other speakers at the Conference included Mr Paul Lyons, Co-founder and Managing Director of Asia Pacific, The Ambition Group; Mr David Eldon, Chairman of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd; Mr Don Hanna, Managing Director, Head of Asia Pacific Economic and Market Analysis, Citigroup; Mr Joseph Chan, Acting Director of Student Development ServicesProfessor Richard Ho, Chair Professor,  Department of Economics and Finance, CityU; and Professor Anthony Leung, Professor of the Department of Public and Social Administration.




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