Young people in Southeast Asia have shown significant resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many have rushed to adopt digital work styles using locks to gain new skills, and have become more creative and ready to take advantage of opportunities in the post-pandemic world.
However, the closure of the borders did not allow these young people to establish stronger ties with their counterparts in neighboring countries. Veronica Lowe, co-founder and president of the ASEAN Business Youth Association (ABYA), said the idea of creating a youth-focused platform emerged when she realized there was a gap in initiatives that could empower youth and facilitate sharing. ideas among them.
Lowe along with six other friends founded ABYA amid the pandemic. ASEAN is projected to become the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030, and the association aims to help young people in the region become more business-savvy and gain a foothold in a rapidly changing world.
Lowe said it was through her participation in the Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative (HYLI) in 2019 that she learned about the importance of building relationships and community with like-minded people. According to her, cross-border cooperation can lead to broader solutions.
HYLI is Hitachi Asia’s flagship youth development program. It brings together university students from eight countries in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss regional and global issues on a chosen topic. Through the platform, youth leaders are given the opportunity to interact with government officials, academics and leaders from the business and non-governmental sectors.
Lowe also works for Deloitte’s professional services firm Digital Transformation Team. Her daily work as a business analyst has taught her that it is vital to be aware of new technological trends and adapt to new changes, she said.
In this interview, Lowe talks to Eco-Business about how young people can participate in global digital transformation, the importance of social innovation during a pandemic and why they believe in connecting youth in ASEAN.
How have you seen the intersection of technological transformation and youth engagement to have consequences, especially during a pandemic?
Digital transformation may seem like a buzzword nowadays, but it is an important topic for young people as the pandemic has brought many processes online. Technological innovations can help improve these processes and reduce the time people spend at work, or help them use their time more efficiently so that they can do more meaningful things.
In the technology industry, young people with more technology can think about creating products that meet new needs. Otherwise, the industry also has many non-technical capabilities. For example, as a business analyst, I gather information about the needs of our users. The “technical” and “non-technical” aspects of my work are important.
One platform I use often there is DevOps. It’s an evolving philosophy and structure focused on user needs, and this software development methodology provides an overview for business analysts, developers, and other stakeholders in the team to understand what’s going on. This shows that focusing on collecting user requirements or creating compelling and accurate user stories are also useful skills. Young people who do not understand technology will be able to do it.
After a drastic shift to remote work, we also realized how new methodologies used in the technology industry, such as Agile and Scrum, both project management structures that are more iterative, can help us work more efficiently and teach us to adapt to change. . The traditional approach is a waterfall, where problems are solved more linearly and where projects have fixed deadlines.
Could you tell us more about your experience of creating the ASEA Business Youth Association (ABYA)?
In a short period of time, the organization has reached more than 3,000 people through various programs. I did not expect the organization to grow to such a scale. This should mean that there was a real need for young people in the region to connect and cooperate.
One of the main conclusions of the company is how important it is to adapt to change. Our discussions began before the pandemic, and we launched the association only during the pandemic itself. We had to adapt to a new normal life and find more innovative ways to allow young people to connect across borders.
Nor can we always assume that what young people need now will be what they need in the future. We focus on bottom-up approaches such as collecting feedback and conducting focus group discussions to learn more about what young people need and to keep our processes relevant.
ABYA provides a platform for young people to improve their skills, and during the pandemic it helped some young people get jobs in different fields, forcing them to work on projects and gain more real-world experiences. For example, a former team member who joined us as head of marketing has since gotten a job in the same field. The skills and experience gained while working helped.
Young people participating in ABYA programs will become more informed about global affairs and will have the opportunity to work with an international team, learn communication and management skills. They also have access to a network of teachers already working in the environmental, social and public administration (ESG) sectors.
Why did you decide to create BOTH?
As a graduate of the Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative (HYLI), after experiencing full-fledged meetings with other like-minded people in 2019, I realized that Singapore lacks youth-oriented organizations that allow us to connect with others. in the region. ASEAN is projected to be the fourth largest economy by 2030, so there is much room for growth and this can be accelerated through greater cooperation in the region.
ABYA focuses on three main pillars – political, economic and cultural development – for the development of future ASEAN leaders. We want to help young people find their point in a world that is constantly changing.
What is your experience at HYLI?
The HYLI program has allowed me to meet young people who are leaders in their countries and strive to make a positive impact in their countries and ASEAN in general.
By the end of the conference we had to offer an idea to solve the problem statement given to us by HYLI. My team worked on the topic of “Youth Opportunities in Asia” and we proposed to develop a mobile app for young people to have easy and free access to educational resources. The app will include lessons, quizzes, resources and games, and users will be able to play them while gaining knowledge. It was fun, but fun to work together to find solutions. To date, our team is united and we keep in touch.
What other challenges did young people face during the pandemic and how can technological innovation help?
During the pandemic, many young people faced difficulties in finding full-time work. Gamification tools, a technological solution that is in line with what we proposed at HYLI 2019, can help young people improve their skills. These tools are also interactive and can help connect young people from different countries so that they work with young people from different regions.
I was surprised to find that our proposed idea is being implemented by Malaysian universities. The app they enjoy has a reward system, and students receive points through volunteering or management positions. Potential employers can access the portal to view student profiles. This makes the system more holistic education.
If you could give fellow leaders some advice, what would they be?
Now because of the pandemic everything is online, so personal interaction may be small, but take the opportunity to get to know each other. Don’t be afraid to turn to fellow delegates because you never know where this connection might lead you.
Create moments together and don’t be afraid to try new ones and come up with new ideas. Take every opportunity.
The theme of this year’s HYLI is Social Innovation in the New Norm. The event will take place from 18 to 21 July.