Warwick ASEAN Conference

Day 1 Blog

Today marks the first day of the long-anticipated Warwick Asean Conference (WAC), and it was truly worth the wait! Day 1 of the Conference was broken down into 2 sessions; the first session consisted of the highly esteemed and impressive youth panel, who shared insights and personal anecdotes into the entrepreneurial world. This was later followed by a representative from Bright Network who discussed the different methods and behaviors that should be adopted to impress leading employers. 

Introductory Speech

The Conference began with an introduction from the conference’s chief coordinator –Tan Si Qi– who spoke about the theme of this year’s conference: Resurgence. This conference will primarily focus on how ASEAN, as a region, will emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst the pandemic has brought about unprecedented levels of challenges, it has also encouraged greater recognition and appreciation of the power of multimedia tools, allowing this society to reach unimaginable levels. We hope this Conference will provide an opportunity for students to gain a better understanding of the ASEAN region: its challenges, opportunities, and future prospects; as well as encouraging the celebration of ASEAN as a thriving region. 

Warwick ASEAN Conference’s Youth Panel

WAC was joined by 4 founders/ co-founders of startups, who could not be better advocates of the notion that age is truly just a number. Despite their young ages, each speaker is equipped with a plethora of experiences and insights into the entrepreneurial world. The panel was moderated by Hillary Yip (Founder of MinorMynas), as she discussed the intricacies of an entrepreneur’s journey with Amir Hamza (an Education Entrepreneur), Kisum Chan (CEO of Rice Inc.), and Calvin Wee (Co-founder of the Young SEAkers). 

The panel first discussed the history of each startup, when and why they decided to take a leap of faith and embark on an extremely tumultuous but rewarding journey. Each startup began with a willingness to experiment, and a lot of the reasoning centred upon a fundamental desire to create an impact on the world. None of the speakers entered the entrepreneurial world with a sole focus on money. Those thinking about startups were advised to go ahead and just try, to not let stories of failure deter them but to instead learn from, and to be passionate about your startup. There was a disparity in views on the startup culture in the East and the West; Kisum found the startup environment in the UK to be extremely welcoming and nurturing, whilst Calvin shared a story about the secretive startup of Tao Bao (in China), to give us a flavour of just how competitive the startup environment was in the East. 

Each speaker agreed that surrounding yourself with the right people is fundamental when starting your entrepreneurial journey. Friends do not always make the best business partners, and contrary to popular belief, having people who think differently from you can be very beneficial, as you don’t want your team members to become an echo chamber! Hillary, who started her business when she was just 10 years of age, acknowledged the importance of mentorship, which was commonly shared amongst the other speakers. Failure is a very common term within the entrepreneurial world, and having a good mentor will help you to put everything into perspective, and to realise that failure will actually be the main driving force of your entrepreneurial journey. 

The core takeaways from the Conference’s youth speaker’s panel is that entrepreneurship ultimately boils down to motivation, and a desire to change the world. Have a clear sense of direction, understand your values and have the conviction to stay with your startup to the end. 

Bright Network’s Informative session

After a short break, WAC was then joined by the campus manager of Bright Network -Shelly O’Gilvie. Bright Network is a career-orientated network aimed at helping the world’s best companies find talent & provide university students with advice & further access into the jobs market; Shelly looks after all of Bright Network’s members by ensuring accessibility to the best career-advancing opportunities. 

Shelly first began by disputing the common consensus amongst university students, that getting a 2:1 or above and having industry experience is crucial for employers; being equipped with communication skills and resilience is much more important! This session was broken down into 3 segments: what employers want, standing out in an application/ interview, and a list of the important considerations to bear in mind when applying for jobs. Shelly stressed the importance of research; you should have a very clear understanding of the industry you are hoping to enter, the firm you are applying to, and the role you are hoping to obtain. Find out whether the industry and firm is a good fit for you, and whether you are a good fit for them! 

As the pandemic has shifted application procedures to virtual platforms, Shelly provided insights into how applicants can effectively navigate this shift and stand out amidst such unique circumstances. Despite graduate recruitment/ firm representatives only being able to see the top half of you, ensuring that you are professionally dressed head to toe (no pyjama bottoms) can go a long way in helping you get into the correct mindset when attending an interview. Consider the type of questions that will be asked: on top of the career and firm motivation questions that will be asked, you will also be expected to describe and demonstrate your key competencies and skills. Shelly touched upon the structure of CV’s, provided insight into the different ways you could leave a lasting impression on the interviewers, and discussed the best ways to tackle the different types of questions that could be asked during an interview. It was truly an informative session. 

Closing remarks

WAC is so grateful to have had the opportunity to engage with such respectable individuals, who have each shared so much knowledge and advice. We hope that all our attendees have thoroughly enjoyed today’s session, and we are sure that day 2 of our Conference will equally be as engaging and informative as day 1.