SAP and ASEAN Foundation continue to inspire action from youth

Eugene Ho

The Regional Finals of ASEAN Data Science Explorers (ASEANDSE) 2019 that concluded this week in Bangkok emerged as a huge success for all concerned.

This initiative, organised by the ASEAN Foundation and SAP, aimed to recognize the importance of equipping ASEAN youth with skill sets that will help them thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Participating students came from a wide range of disciplines such as political science, engineering and architecture. The idea was for the teams to generate actionable insights from data and come up with solutions that would have an impact on sustainable development.

The top three winners were teams from Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand, while Monash University Malaysia flew our country’s flag high throughout the competition.

This event was the culmination of a year-long journey that involved a series of enablement sessions involving almost 500 educators and 3,000 students trained in SAP Analytics Cloud.

The ASEANDSE 2019 competition had 1,341 (70% YOY increase) participants in national finals across all 10 ASEAN member states. National champions then competed at the regional level in Bangkok, Thailand. Winners were chosen for their excellent capabilities in developing and presenting data-driven solutions that highlighted six Sustainable Development Goals namely (1) good health and well-being, (2) quality education, (3) gender equality, (4) decent work and economic growth, (5) industry, innovation & infrastructure and (6) sustainable cities and communities. 

How it all started 

Reflecting on the success of the ASEANDSE throughout the years, SAP Southeast Asia head of corporate affairs Eugene Ho (seated right in pic) said that the idea first came in 2016 right after the declaration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

“It was an opportunity to inspire action from youth. SAP had the talent, technology and grants to make the programme a reality in a strategic partnership with the ASEAN Foundation,” reflected Ho.

“This was more pertinent as the world was already heading into the 4IR where digital skills underpin every aspect of work and life. In service to our CSR mission, which is ‘Powering Opportunity through Digital Inclusion’ and in line with the ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2020, SAP has focused our efforts to imbue educators and youths with data analytics skills to thrive in the Digital Economy,” he added.

Ho also recounted how SAP needed to get the necessary approvals from the 10 Permanent Representatives of the member states to ASEAN.

“Once it was cleared, we had to educate stakeholders on what the programme was about. The programme went on to be endorsed by another 30 government agencies,” said Ho.

“The programme has been growing from strength to strength,” he explained, adding that organisers were especially pleased to note an increasing number of female participants.

“I’m pleased to share that there are 9 females out of 20 participants in the 2019 Regional Finals compared to only 4 females in 2018. This is testament to the strong interest and equal capabilities of female participants in data analytics. The quality of analysis and proposals has also strengthened cohort after cohort.”

SAP: “People at the heart of everything we do”

Meanwhile, ASEAN Foundation executive director Elaine Tan said that her organisation is honoured and proud to have collaborated with SAP for three consecutive years.

“SAP played a significant role in this initiative as together we are address the post-2020 direction of ASEAN youth development that focuses on fostering future-ready ASEAN youth through digital skills development. The initiative helps ASEAN youths to seize the vast opportunities that lie ahead of them.”

Ho concluded by emphasizing that, at SAP, “people are at the heart of everything we do”.

“The most heartening stories are the journeys of the youths post-competition. Most have moved on to gainful employment in top companies like JP Morgan and Alibaba. I met a national finalist in Laos several weeks back and was delighted that she had been offered a data analyst job at LaoViet even before she had graduated. She attributed the opportunity to the ASEAN DSE programme.”

Well done to SAP and the ASEAN Foundation for embarking on this initiative.

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