By the SMU Digital Marketing Team
In a strategic move aimed at expanding its regional footprint and promoting innovation, SMU has inaugurated its latest Overseas Centre in the vibrant city of Bangkok, Thailand. The establishment of the Overseas Centre Bangkok (OCB) marks a milestone in the University’s commitment to providing high-quality education and fostering regional development as part of its ‘Growth in Asia’ strategic priority.
The Overseas Centre Bangkok is poised to be a dynamic hub for human-capital development, bridging the gap between academia and industry through tailored continuing education programmes. The Centre aims to attract talents to pursue advanced studies at SMU while championing innovation, leadership, and sustainability initiatives in the region.
“OCB’s role encompasses the cultivation of new relationships and the nurturing of existing networks with corporations in Thailand,” expresses Overseas Centre Bangkok Centre Director Celine Kuok.
“We endeavour to play an active role in building a future-ready workforce for the D-VUCAD (disruption, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity and diversity) world.”
In a conversation with Ms Kuok, we gained insights into the factors that led to Bangkok’s selection as SMU’s next overseas centre, the university’s collaboration plans with local institutions and industries, and the centre’s initiatives to promote innovation and leadership.
Bangkok: Asia’s epicentre of progress
Over the recent years, Thailand has emerged as a dynamic force: It is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, making it an economic powerhouse that fuels the region’s growth and development.
Ms Celine Kuok, Centre Director, SMU Overseas Centre Bangkok
“Through feasibility studies and a comprehensive evaluation involving senior management discussions, we have learnt that Thailand is one of the largest markets within Southeast Asia with a significant demand for professional continuing education,” says Ms Kuok. This compelling insight provided a strong rationale for SMU to establish a representative office in Thailand.
Furthermore, Ms Kuok notes that the Thai government’s aims at promoting investment, fostering innovation, and advancing technology – which aligns with SMU’s areas of expertise. Notably, the SMU Centre for AI and Data Governance conducts research on themes such as Data Governance, Emerging Technology Regulation, and Digital Economy Law.
In addition to forging corporate partnerships, SMU seeks to deepen its collaborations with Thailand’s institutes of higher learning, intensifying teaching and research partnerships in fields of innovation and entrepreneurship.
For example, the recently held 11th Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC), organised by the SMU Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, hosted a Thai contingent which included start-up teams from Chulalongkorn University and Panyapiwat Institute of Management.
“To actively engage the business community, OCB will host thematic events and webinars, providing a dynamic platform for business leaders and academics to exchange insights and explore emerging trends in innovation, technology and strategic digital transformation,” shares Ms Kuok.
A win-win partnership for SMU and Thailand
Collaborating with local partners is key to mutual growth and success. By joining forces with established players, organisations can tap into local expertise and networks, fostering sustainable growth in new markets.
SMU’s commitment to human capital development in Thailand is evident through its partnerships with local institutions and industries. Notably, the Thai government’s emphasis on automation and digitisation aligns seamlessly with the suite of programmes offered by the SMU Academy and Executive Development, the professional training arms of SMU, explains Ms Kuok.
“Singapore’s wealth of knowledge and best practices in transforming into a digital economy can be a useful resource in Thailand’s digital transformation journey,” says Ms Kuok, who has been based in the country since 2017, while specialising in the development of leadership programmes.
One of the concrete partnerships was inked with the Thailand Management Association, focusing on offering soft and technical skills to the working professionals. Additionally, SMU’s role as a key strategic partner within the ASEAN Universities Network positions it at the forefront of enhancing human capital and elevating education quality across the region.
“Overseas Centres are poised to become SMU’s defining differentiator as we position ourselves as a quintessential Asian university, with offices in key markets that serve local communities and act as vital nodes for regional collaboration,” she offers.
Catalysts for growth in Asia
To create a vibrant ecosystem of thought leadership sharing, Overseas Centre Bangkok has devised initiatives that promise enduring impact.
Functioning as a one-stop shop, SMU Overseas Centre Bangkok offers comprehensive support to students, faculty, and partners through a single point of contact. Ms Kuok underscores that SMU Overseas Centres in Jakarta, Bangkok, and Ho Chi Minh City will collaborate closely, enabling the swift adoption of best practices and emerging trends across these locations. Collectively, the Overseas Centres serve as platforms for higher education institutions and corporations to network and deliberate on issues unique to operating in Asia.
The Overseas Centres, akin to embassies, play a pivotal role in elevating SMU’s international reputation and strengthening partnerships with local communities, thereby contributing to economic and social development.
“Functioning as on-the-ground ‘eyes and ears’, Overseas Centre Bangkok remains connected to the latest in-country developments, providing timely and accurate market intelligence to craft custom-tailored, market-focused propositions,” she emphasises.
As SMU continues to make strides in expanding its global presence and fostering regional growth, the establishment of the Overseas Centre in Bangkok stands as a testament to the University’s commitment to shaping the future of education and collaboration in Asia. With a visionary approach, strategic partnerships, and a dedication to innovation, these Centres are poised to be transformative forces across the region.
Learn more about the SMU Overseas Centre Bangkok here.