Back to All Events



Hong Kong | 21 - 25 May 2018

Yangon | 26 May - 1 June 2018



US$ 18,000 per participant
Includes course materials, flights (HK to/from Yangon), hotels and most meals

Please email:

Businesses today face complex challenges on a daily basis. Forces of globalisation, technology and the shift of influence to Asia are shaking traditional economics and management theory to the core.  

In this context, fresh ideas are needed to challenge business orthodoxy and achieve sustainable growth in an increasingly competitive global arena.

The Global Leaders Programme (GLP) is internationally recognised for its intellectual rigour, beyond-classroom methodology and its output driven approach to leadership development.

Action-based and professionally facilitated, real-world field projects heighten participants’ self-awareness and advance their abilities to manage diverse teams in unfamiliar environments. 

Hidetake Takahashi.jpg
Working with many different cultures made me realize the most important factors for global leadership in a complex world are energy, empathy and cross-cultural communication.
— Hidetake Takahashi, ORIX
The programmes are designed to help participants develop a better understanding of long-term sustainability… and learn how to adapt their business models to succeed in new markets.
— Financial Times

MODULE ONE: Challenging Business Orthodoxy

Module One facilitates a greater awareness of the drivers of change in today's world, engaging participants in candid discussions and debates related to the role of business in society and the changing realities in different political and economic systems. 


The core curriculum in Module One conveys a new narrative on economic development and the role of different sectors in society. The course paints a vivid picture of the world we live in based on facts, figures and examples and asks hard questions about the nature of globalisation. It presents the need to reshape economic systems and for the roles of government, business, civil society and media in our societies to be more aligned with our new realities. Participants are encouraged to think critically as well as to question their own assumptions and challenge conventional notions of global business.

Core topics include:

Sample topics covered in sessions from Module One include:

Impacts of Globalisation

  • How has globalisation transformed the world and what are the challenges it presents despite its innumberable benefits?
  • Examine the rapid spread of globalisation in Asia and its impact on political structures, social norms, employment, environment, culture and values.
  • What can be done to mitigate the worst excesses of globalisation while spreading its benefits?

Role of Government

  • How should we understand the role of the state in this century, as complex societal challenges make the role of the government more important than ever before?
  • How far should governments go in steering citizens to make better choices?
  • Explore the role of the state in various countries in Asia and their indispensible role in providing for basic needs, managing economic growth and improving overall well-being of their citizens.

Role of Business in Society

  • Examine the nature of the role that business plays in society and examine issues related to pricing, externalities, privatisation and the license to operate.
  • How will businesses need to prepare to remain relevant in a future of government intervention, consumer awareness, resource crunch, geo-political changes and increased connectivity?

Facilitation & Guest Speakers

The GLP is facilitated by the GIFT team led by Founder & CEO Chandran Nair.

Guest speakers from business, government, media and civil society offer diverse views relevant for leaders of large organisations.

Previous guest speakers include:

  • David Eldon, Former Chairman, HSBC Asia Pacific
  • Anson Chan, Former Hong Kong SAR Chief Secretary
  • Mark Tucker, Group Chairman, HSBC
  • Sanjeev Gandhi, Member of the Board of Executive Directors, BASF SE
  • Graham Barkus, Former Head of Organisational Development, Cathay Pacific & Swire Properties


MODULE TWO: Field Project in Myanmar


Rigorous field-based learning alongside business planning sessions will take place that encourages participants to stretch themselves and give meaning to "thinking outside the box". Site visits and meetings with government officials, community and business leaders provide a unique view of the region's social, political and economic landscape.

The challenge of producing an original, robust business plan creates a powerful platform for leadership learning – mindsets, resilience and empathetic skills.

Module Two will culminate in a public forum where participants will present their business plan to relevant stakeholders, potential investors, government officials, business leaders and the general public. This offers a helpful exercise in communication, agility and commitment.

Following the programme GIFT refines and delivers the plan to project partners as a resource for advancing their business objectives and realising social value.

Myanmar at a time of change

at a glance 6.jpg

After years of isolation, Myanmar has been undergoing economic and political reforms that have led to a booming economy, more freedom for its people, and rising incomes. In 2015, the World Bank revised Myanmar's status to a lower-middle income country, up from its previous status of low income. Of Myanmar's 53 million people, approximately 10% are considered affluent and middle-income. This number is expected to double by 2020, according to Boston Consulting Group.

Mobile penetration is high in Myanmar, with some estimates stating as high as 90% (by number of SIM cards), and smartphones account for more than 80% of all cellphone use. 

However, access to some basic services such as electricity continues to be a problem, with only 34% of the population connected to the grid. Although difficult, the Burmese government is aiming to have universal electricity access by 2030.

The financial sector is in need of strong institutions to ensure efficiency and security. After several financial shocks in the country, there is a widespread lack of trust in the banking system, which has meant that only 20% of the population currently holds a bank account. Bank branches are also few and far between. As a consequence, companies offering e-wallet and electronic transfers at agent stores are becoming widespread among the increasingly tech-savvy population.

Informal lending

For the majority of people who do not qualify for loans from micro-finance institutions (MFIs) or banks, they turn to pawn shops and community lending groups such as monastery lending.

pawn shop Yankin

There are at least 250 pawn shops in Yangon alone. In Yankin district, on one stretch of road one can find at least three pawn shops in between shops selling all manner of hardware, snacks, smartphones, and white goods. Most prefer to give out loans in exchange for gold, but others will accept electronics and even clothing for much higher interest. The standard interest rate for gold items is 3% per month, to be repaid over four months. The default rate is low for gold, at only 5%, according to Kyaw Zin. He is a young pawn shop owner who had taken over the business from his family, but he says business is not so great considering they used to have three stores.

Credit unions based out of monasteries also organise savings and lending rituals for the Buddhist members in the same community. The interest rates are comparable to other forms of credit at around 3-4% per month. But borrowers offer an interesting collateral - their wellbeing in this life and the next.  


Project Partner

Participants on the Global Leaders Programme will be working with leading Burmese conglomerate Yoma Strategic Holdings to come up with innovative non-bank financial solutions for the rapidly expanding middle-class of Myanmar.

Yoma strategic.png

We look forward to welcoming you to our unique and transformational leadership experience in Myanmar!

Previous programme cohort in front of the iconic Shwedagon, 2015

Previous programme cohort in front of the iconic Shwedagon, 2015