Diplomacy in the boardroom
2017 Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders graduates meet high-level diplomats.
In an unprecedented move, Australia’s ambassadors were recalled to Canberra last month to assist in the drafting of the Turnbull government’s Foreign Policy White Paper. This presented a valuable opportunity for Asialink Diplomacy to exchange insights from across the region and workshop new ideas for Asian engagement.
In partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Asialink convened two diplomatic roundtables on Thursday March 30. Held in the Asialink Boardroom in the Sidney Myer Asia Centre, a select group of industry professionals and academic experts were invited to discuss the challenges and opportunities for Australian diplomacy in South Asia.
The morning began with a breakfast reception for Tony Huber, Australia’s Consul General in Mumbai. With expert input from the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne, the breakfast surveyed the diplomatic outlook for Australia and India, with Mr Huber emphasising the potential for business and education sectors to deepen the bilateral relationship.
This event was followed later in the day by a roundtable with dignitaries from the Sri Lankan government. Led by Deputy Foreign Minister Dr Harsha de Silva, as well as High Commissioner Somasundaram Skandakumar and the Consul General in Melbourne W.G. S. Prasanna, the discussion centred on the key lessons about innovation policy in Australia and Sri Lanka.
In addition to sharing expert views about regional affairs, Asialink leveraged these boardroom briefings to diversify the network of Australia-based professionals interested in Track II diplomacy. Michael Koss, alumnus of the A2ELP and founder of Global Patient Portal, attended both events to discuss the role of digital innovation in health policy.
A pioneer of digital health solutions, Michael has developed his enterprise in India and is now keen to expand his reach across other markets in Asia. With working experience and cultural knowledge of the region, he brings an innovative perspective to the strategic issues in Australian diplomacy.
Since graduating from the program, Michael and the 14 young leaders in the A2ELP have been exploring new ways to develop their thinking. From the evaluation survey of its participants, A2ELP has reported an average 30% increase in knowledge of design skills and cultural awareness of Australia and Asia.
As part of the Diplomacy Lab initiative, in the coming months Asialink will be connecting more innovative thinkers like Michael with the traditional roster of dialogues and track II activities.