AsiaPac Board member, Jason Croston, SRJ Walker Waylan, Brisbane has given us a great personal view of our Joint AsiaPac/EMEA meeting in Singapore.
On Friday 5 May 2017 the members of BKR International’s Asia Pacific and EMEA regions converged upon Singapore for the second ever joint regional conference. The last joint meeting was 3 years ago in Istanbul and it is fair to say that it was a resounding success. So this meeting had a lot to live up to and it didn’t disappoint.
Singapore is one of the great port cities of the world and for many in Australia and others in the region it is really a transit point on the way to another location whether that be somewhere in Europe or Asia. And of course Changi Airport is one of the premier airports in the world catering for travellers that may need some hours in a layover. This time though our stop was here and you could tell that most people were travelling on by the few that went through customs from our plane at the airport on Thursday night making it a quick process to get into the country.
I had been to Singapore a few times outside of the airport before and had always been impressed by its modern development and cleanliness. With my last visit being a few years ago I was keen to see how it had changed and was excited to have my wife Emma and youngest 8 year old daughter Holly joining me.
As a keen runner the first thing that I did on Friday morning was hit the pavement early in the morning along Orchard Road from our fantastic hotel the Mandarin Orchard. I headed up towards the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel and ran around the area before the city woke up. What I found was that even at that early hour, the weather was incredibly humid, but that’s to be expected for any location in the ASEAN region.
My Friday was made up of various informal meetings with other members from the group followed by our Asia Pacific Board meeting and joint Board dinner with the EMEA and Worldwide Board members at the Opus Restaurant at the Hilton. It is a pleasure to be involved in setting the direction of our region at Board level and I look forward to being the Chair of our region’s board for the next 2 years from 1 July 2017.
The next morning started early again with a dedicated group of 8 that headed down to the East Coast Parkrun which is a free timed weekly 5 kilometre running event every Saturday morning at 7:30am. We hopped into 2 separate Ubers to get to the park and all took part with about 60 others after a short warm up jog together. The Uber ride back was a little sweaty to say the least and we had to scoot back as quickly as we could to be back in time or the conference to start at 9am.
After a welcome address by Pong from our host firm RT, we were given a very good economic update from Thian Tai Chew from SBF. The statistics on the influence and continued rise of Asia on the global economy was interesting. After awarding scholarships to 2 impressive young students from each region, the AGMs were held followed by a roundtable update from the regional chairs Sunny Ma, Archangelo Agogliati, and Dave Goldner which was chaired by our Worldwide Chair Jacqeline Wolfovski. After lunch another interesting roundtable discussion on outsourcing chaired by Grant Allsopp was held followed by 2 breakout sessions on Digital Disruption by Gihan Perara and Workplace Happiness by Low Boon Seong. Each of these topics are relevant and important to all members in each region was we plan our future strategies for managing our firms in this rapidly changing world.
Our gala dinner was on Saturday night and was stunning. Heading down to Marina Bay we all boarded boats for a short trip across the bay to Clifford Pier. The only hitch though was a fun run which was Star Wars themed! After watching what seemed like an endless stream of storm troopers and Jedi run by, we boarded the boats and were greeted with an amazing view of the Singapore skyline at night. The gala dinner was excellent with great food and drinks. There was also a photo booth and plenty of great fun had with the pictures taken before the inevitable cutting loose on the dancefloor.
The next day was the traditional tour day and we headed to the Gardens by the Bay which was a sight to see. The sea of Tulips was not what you would expect to see in a tropical climate but that was what we were greeted with along with gardens from around the world and an indoor waterfall. Walking through the clouds along elevated walkways and taking in the cooler environment inside the glasshouses and seeing the various fauna on display. Our lunch was at Red House Seafood at Clark Quay which included the famous Singapore Chili Crab. After an afternoon to ourselves, we gathered again for a visit to the Singapore Zoo for the Night Safari which started with a buffet dinner and then a night tour of the zoo on trolleys. There was a large range of animals from around the world including a magnificent African male elephant standing tall.
Monday and we were back to business with me thanking Nilar Chan and Sunny Ma for their past service of Asia Pacific regional chairs, and International Tax Committee update from Angelos Theodorou and then an overview of the new EMEA and Asia Pacific websites from Tim Morris. The very important topic of Cyber Security was covered by KK Lim followed by a very interesting roundtable discussion from three impressive experts on investing in the SAAS market. Just before the formal close of the meeting Angelos Theodorou and Marycris Oplas gave us a sneak peak of next year’s meeting which will be held in Cyprus and Manila. They both look great!
Overall the second joint regional conference between EMEA and Asia Pacific was excellent and a credit to the organisation of regional executive directors Grant Allsopp and Tim Morris with fantastic onsite assistance from Rachel Mojsovski. The introduction of the conference app was excellent and widely accepted by members with the ability to interact with each other through messages, sharing photos and knowing the schedule. I am looking forward to this feature being used at future conferences and expanded upon.
When it comes to being part of an organisation like BKR International, it is conferences like these which help create the relationships that makes our association a success. I have so many great friends and trusted contacts from all around the world as a result of attending and being involved in these meetings. As our clients continually look to do business internationally, it is important to me and our firm that we have trusted relationships that will look after our clients in any jurisdiction around the world. And because we are actively involved in the group, that we do.