When it comes to the world of business and leadership, certain elements stand out as symbols of power, authority, and prestige. One such element is the executive chair a piece of furniture that goes beyond its functional purpose to convey executive table philippines status and importance. The history, design, and impact of executive chairs offer a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of office culture and the psychology of leadership.
Historical Context and Evolution:
The concept of a designated seat for leaders dates back centuries. In ancient civilizations, rulers and monarchs had ornate thrones that were not only comfortable but also visually striking. These thrones served to emphasize the ruler’s authority and distinguish them from the common people. This tradition continued through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, with elaborate thrones becoming symbols of power and majesty.
As the modern business landscape emerged, the idea of a special chair for executives found its way into corporate culture. The early 20th century saw the rise of large corporations and the need for organized management structures. With this shift, executive chairs became a practical necessity for corporate leaders who spent long hours making crucial decisions.
Design and Functionality:
The design of executive chairs has evolved over time to balance comfort, functionality, and status. Early executive chairs were often large and imposing, with heavy wood frames and thick cushions. They were designed to make a statement – to establish the authority of the person sitting in them. As ergonomic research advanced, however, there was a shift towards chairs that not only projected authority but also provided comfort and support during extended work periods.
Modern executive chairs incorporate ergonomic principles to ensure that leaders can work efficiently without compromising their health. Adjustable features, such as lumbar support, recline mechanisms, and armrest adjustments, have become standard. High-quality materials like leather and fine fabrics are often used, not only for their durability but also for their aesthetic appeal.
Psychology of Authority and Status:
The choice of an executive chair goes beyond mere comfort; it delves into the psychology of leadership and authority. The chair a leader sits in is a symbol of their position and influence. It affects not only how they are perceived by others but also how they perceive themselves. The right executive chair can boost confidence and enhance the sense of being in control.
Furthermore, the psychology of status plays a role in the design of executive chairs. The visual distinction between an executive chair and regular office chairs reinforces the hierarchy within an organization. Visitors and employees alike can quickly identify the person in charge based on their seating arrangement. This symbolic representation of power can have a profound impact on office dynamics and the overall work environment.
Impact on Productivity and Morale:
The significance of executive chairs extends beyond aesthetics and symbolism. A comfortable and supportive chair can significantly impact productivity and morale within an organization. Leaders who are provided with ergonomically designed chairs can focus on their responsibilities without the distraction of discomfort. This, in turn, can lead to better decision-making and overall efficiency.
Moreover, the presence of executive chairs can serve as a motivational factor for employees. It demonstrates that the organization values its leadership and is willing to invest in their well-being. This can create a positive perception of the company culture and boost employee morale, ultimately contributing to a more engaged and productive workforce.
Changing Trends and Adaptations:
As work environments continue to evolve, so do executive chairs. The rise of remote work and flexible office setups has prompted adaptations in executive chair design. With more leaders working from home or participating in virtual meetings, there is a growing demand for executive chairs that blend style, comfort, and functionality for home office settings.
Additionally, the concept of leadership itself is changing. Modern leadership is often associated with collaboration, accessibility, and approachability. This shift is reflected in the design of executive chairs, which are now being created to balance authority with a more open and inclusive aesthetic.
Sustainability and Ethical Considerations:
In recent years, sustainability and ethical manufacturing practices have gained prominence in the business world. This trend lockers has extended to furniture, including executive chairs. Organizations are increasingly mindful of the materials used in chair production, opting for eco-friendly and responsibly sourced options. This not only aligns with corporate social responsibility efforts but also appeals to environmentally conscious leaders.
Executive chairs have come a long way from their historical origins as symbols of authority. They now embody a delicate balance between status, comfort, and functionality. The evolution of executive chairs reflects changes in leadership styles, corporate culture, and work environments. These chairs are not merely pieces of furniture; they are statements that influence the psychology of leadership, productivity, and overall office dynamics. As organizations continue to adapt to new challenges and paradigms, the executive chair will likely remain a timeless emblem of leadership and power.
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Financial advice is a key factor in achieving higher levels of wealth, with 76% of financially abundant respondents across Hong Kong and Singapore saying that working with financial advisers has made them wealthier, according to a St James’s Place Asia (SJP Asia) study.
The study, titled Advice at Every Stage of the Journey, looks at 2,000 Hongkongers and Singaporeans, categorised across five different levels of wealth – Financial Stability (ST), Financial Security (SE), Financial Flexibility (FL), Financial Freedom (FR) and Financial Abundance (AB) – and their perceptions around financial advice amid economic headwinds and the emergence of wealthtech solutions and robo-advisory platforms.
It revealed that those at higher levels of wealth are more likely to attribute their success to financial advice and speak from personal experience.
Financially abundant respondents are far more likely to engage with financial advisers than those that are financially stable (71% vs 32%). Respondents that fall within the AB group are also most likely to make better decisions as a result of financial advice (76% vs 37%) and to advocate for earlier and greater engagement with financial advisers (73% vs 36%).
Overall, almost six in 10 (59%) of respondents rate their personal financial management needs as complex, highlighting the need to bridge the education and experience gap among less wealthy cohorts.
Unsurprisingly, 82% across the board are worried about the rising cost of living with respondents who are financially stable expressing greater concern than those who are financially abundant (87% vs 71%). In response to ongoing economic uncertainty, 50% of respondents in Hong Kong intend to change their financial plans to take advantage of potential opportunities (43% for Singapore) and 29% express that they intend to adopt a more conservative approach to financial planning (47% for Singapore).
The survey also explores what Hongkongers and Singaporeans prioritise in a financial adviser and barriers to accessing advice. Personal connection and familiarity play a significant role in accessing financial advice. For example, 67% of respondents say face-to-face interaction is important, and most (80%) prefer advisers who share their native language, national origin and background, potentially limiting their options in receiving more comprehensive, well-rounded and effective financial guidance.
Respondents also listed financial advisers as the second most likely partners (81%) in honest discussions about their financial situations, after family (89%).
Younger Hongkongers and Singaporeans are keen to get their foot in the door early with financial advisers, boding well for the future of the industry. 46% of Hongkongers and Singaporeans aged 27- 39 have consulted a financial adviser, compared to 31% of those aged 50-69, and the overall average of 40%.
Moreover, 93% of respondents aged 27-39 in Hong Kong and Singapore have also expressed that the financial advice they received was useful as compared to 81% of those aged 50-69. When asked the top three areas they would need greater financial advice and knowledge in, younger respondents have expressed the following: investments (92%), retirement planning (83%) and property and mortgage (81%).
Need for more education
Oliver Wickham, Asia partnership director at SJP, said: “Having a robust plan in place amid ongoing economic pressures can help navigate any unexpected financial challenges. While our study shows that those who have achieved more success in terms of wealth typically attribute it to financial advice, individuals who are not as financially abundant seem to be more hesitant in tackling their concerns with a professional. This underscores the need for more education especially around the benefits of timely and meaningful financial advice for all generations and wealth levels.
“Cultivating a financial mindset at an early age is a powerful investment in the future. Embracing financial advisers and planning allows younger generations to gain a head start, enabling them to navigate the complexities of personal finance with confidence and set themselves on a path towards lifelong financial well-being.
“While it is not uncommon to prefer working with advisers that share a similar background, the priority should be finding an adviser with the right qualifications, expertise and ability that can understand and address your specific financial needs.
“In an increasingly globalised world, our financial decisions often involve international markets and cross-cultural considerations and having diversity in financial advice can offer a broader global perspective and help address complexities in international investments, taxation and regulations.”
As debts continue to pile on different economies, African governments have been urged to exploit internal sources of revenue, instead of relying on borrowing, so as to improve service delivery in their respective countries.
Ms Angella Nabwowe, the Executive Director of the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) said African governments, including Uganda are spending a bigger percentage of their national budgets on repaying debts, instead of increasing allocations to critical sectors like education and health.
Ms Nabwowe made the call during a regional conference on reclaiming public services organised by Initiative for Social and Economic Rights and the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability held at Speke Resort Hotel Munyonyo from August 29 to 30.
“Africa’s rising debt burden threatens the future availability of public services as debt repayment increasingly takes a lion share of budget funds,” she said.
During the 2023/2024 Financial Year budget reading, Shs17 trillion out of Uganda’s total budget vote of Shs52.7 trillion was set aside to cater for debt repayment.
While giving his keynote address, Mr Brian Kagoro, a lawyer and Pan-Africanist from Zimbabwe critised African countries for failing to learn from their colonial past and instead continue to beg from the powerful countries whom he said are determined to control the former’s resources.
Dr Gerald Siranda, a Ugandan representative at the East African Legislative Assembly stressed the need for addressing the challenges of governments, if African countries are to make progress.
Dr Siranda who also chairs the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) committee on regional affairs and conflict resolution cautioned leaders against enriching themselves at the expense of the masses.
Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, is an architect and Minister, Housing and Urban Development. He was the immediate past Managing Director, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria. He spoke to CHINEDUM UWAEGBULAM in an exclusive interview on his plans for the ministry, lingering challenge of national housing data, Land Use Act review and other issues.
Private real estate developers and other stakeholders have complained about the Federal Government engaging in direct construction of houses instead of formulating policies and setting standards for the housing sector, as enshrined in the National Housing Policy. What are your thoughts on this?
First, I would like to thank President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for giving me the privilege to contribute to the development of the country as the Minister for Housing and Urban Development. I have over 30 years of experience in the housing industry, both as a practicing architect and as the owner of a reputable architectural firm. Additionally, I spent five years working as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN). I can tell you that those complaints, raised not only by real estate developers and stakeholders, but also by all those who genuinely desire the growth of the housing sector to foster access to affordable shelter, while unlocking its potential as a catalyst for inclusive economic growth, are indeed valid. As the minister, I have already stated during Senate screening and address to principal officers of the Ministry and Heads of agencies, that the government has no business engaging in direct construction of houses. Let me provide you with some examples. Firstly, government involvement in direct construction of houses has never yielded the expected and projected results. If you look at history, you will find that in 1972, the Federal Government established the National Housing Programme (NHP) under the second National Development Plan period. The government planned to build 59,000 homes, with 15,000 in Lagos and 4,000 units in each of the other 11 state capitals at the time. In 1973, the Federal Housing Authority was created to coordinate the programme. Between 1975 and 1980, during the Third National Development Plan, the Federal Government decided to actively participate in the provision of housing, rather than leaving it primarily to the private sector. A total of N2.6 billion was earmarked for the implementation of various projects. During this period, a total of 202,000 homes were planned for construction, consisting of 50,000 units in Lagos and 8,000 units in each of the other 19 States. However, by the end of the plan period, less than 15 per cent of the houses had been completed. In 1980, the government embarked on another elaborate NHP. The target groups were low-income earners, whose yearly income could afford a one-bedroom house, and the medium-income group with yearly income that could afford a three-bedroom house. A total of 40,000 units were to be constructed yearly nationwide, with 2,000 units designated for each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). At the end of the exercise, not much was achieved. Although the Federal Government budgeted about N1.9 billion for housing in the Fourth National Development Plan, an estimated sum of N600 million was spent on implementing the National Low-Cost Housing Programme. Given this level of investment, the programme had a negligible impact on the overall housing market. These are just a few examples of failed government interventions in housing construction. The reasons for this negative trend are easy to extrapolate. They include faulty concept designs, politically motivated schemes that do not consider implementation challenges, and, of course, outright fraud and corruption. For instance, in the earliest cases, studies indicate that a single design was adopted for the entire country, regardless of varying cultural and climatic differences. The distribution and selection of sites had little to no relation to the actual demand for housing. Most states politicised the programme, offering land in remote areas with poor terrain to the Federal Government. Contractor appointments were often based on party patronage rather than capability and experience. Furthermore, houses were allocated to party members, who neither needed them nor qualified as low-income earners. The lesson from history is clear, and we all acknowledge that repeating the same actions and expecting different results is unreasonable. In my view, the ministry’s role involves creating an enabling environment for increased private sector investment in the housing sector, while empowering agencies
What are your plans as the Minister of Housing and Urban Development? I intend to chart a fundamentally different course of action that is sustainable and will help unlock the potential of the housing sector. In line with the vision of the president, I promise to take bold initiatives, champion strategic housing reforms, and break systemic barriers to housing and urban development. We will collaborate closely with the National Assembly to review relevant laws, streamline land and housing administration, and create a conducive environment for investment in the housing sector. We will facilitate the N500 billion recapitalisation of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) to provide it with leverage and enhance its ability to offer more affordable mortgage loans and rent-to-own options to Nigerians. We will reform the FMBN, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), and other housing agencies, ensuring they possess the necessary capacity and technological edge to deliver world-class services to Nigerians. Our goal is to ensure that these strategic agencies are more effective and efficient in delivering decent and quality housing to Nigerians on a massive scale. By doing so, we will also harness the immense power of the construction industry to generate jobs and contribute to achieving the president’s plan to grow the economy, foster inclusive growth, and uplift 100 million Nigerians from poverty. Furthermore, we will embrace innovative housing construction financing solutions, while collaborating with relevant institutions to unlock the funding required for delivering massive affordable housing nationwide. In the coming days, we will unveil our Strategic Housing and Urban Development Blueprint, containing details of our priorities, initiatives, reforms, and plans.
The lack of reliable comprehensive national statistics on housing and urban development has been a persistent constraint on housing delivery in Nigeria, as it hampers effective planning, budgeting, and investment in the sector. How would you handle this endemic problem? It troubles me deeply that as a country and a sector, we lack credible data related to housing and the state of our towns and communities nationwide. This has been and will continue to be the obstacle to effective project planning and implementation unless we take proactive measures. For quite some time, we’ve seen industry experts cite varying numbers for Nigeria’s housing deficit—starting at 17 million and gradually escalating to 20 million, then 22 million, and now discussions around a 28 million housing shortage. Yet, these figures lack substantiated evidence. Addressing this issue is a top priority for me. Firstly, I plan to ensure, as a ministry focused on policy formulation, that we establish a robust policy, research, and statistics framework within the ministry. This framework will vigilantly monitor developments, trends, and changes in the country’s housing mix. It will be staffed by qualified personnel. Additionally, I will engage data consultants to collaborate with them on conducting the first government-sponsored Nationwide Housing Survey.
This survey will aim to scientifically determine the actual housing shortage in the country. It is about time we did our homework. It is our responsibility as a nation to lead this effort and not rely on extrapolations from foreign bodies and institutions. Creating this knowledge base within the ministry will be a paramount objective. It will help institutionalise the data collation practice. Furthermore, I plan to collaborate with the National Population Commission (NPC) as they prepare for the next nationwide census. I have already initiated discussions with the commission’s leadership with the aim of leveraging the census to gather data about housing in the country.”
Accessibility to large pools of long-term funds at cheap rates is imperative for mass housing development. However, it is impossible to mobilize such funds in the absence of a well-developed and efficient housing finance system. What are the challenges? How would you transform the mortgage sector? Housing finance plays a critical role in the housing delivery framework. It is the engine that propels the housing sector, encompassing the funds required for housing unit development, housing infrastructure provision, and housing unit acquisition. Accessibility to substantial pools of long-term funds at low rates is indispensable for mass housing development, yet it becomes unattainable without a well-developed and efficient housing finance system. Thus, the establishment of an efficient and well-structured housing finance mechanism is imperative. This mechanism must address affordability for households, accessibility and viability for financial institutions and developers. Additionally, it should incorporate enforceable property rights, an effective registration and titling system, adequate foreclosure laws, diversified funding including mortgage securities, a credit information system, robust prudential regulations, a level playing field among lenders, and sound risk management practices. Other vital components include accessible and reliable housing data, the presence of professional real estate intermediaries, urban development regulations aligned with economic realities, and access to titled land for developers. As I mentioned earlier, as a minister, I am committed to driving these reforms in collaboration with all stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), National Assembly, and state governments. We will review the relevant laws and regulations that will help create a conducive environment to attract domestic and international resources to expand the sector. This approach is crucial to building investor confidence in the system and channelling the substantial funds currently lying dormant in Pension funds, foreign direct investments, and Diaspora remittances into the housing sector.
The Land Use Act was intended to facilitate the availability of urban and rural land for development. However, the Act has been a constraining factor in housing delivery since its inclusion in the Constitution, making even minor amendments difficult. What steps would you take? Will you push for the establishment of a National Land Commission? Land is an essential requirement for sustainable housing delivery. Challenges associated with land acquisition for housing include availability, accessibility, ownership rights, security of tenure, and the absence of land use plans. These pose significant obstacles to development across both the public and private sectors of the economy. The Land Use Act (LUA) was originally intended to streamline the availability of urban and rural land for development. However, its inclusion in the Constitution has inadvertently constrained housing delivery. Issues include the Act’s inflexibility, making even minor amendments difficult; the vesting of all lands in the states in the governors and federal lands in the presidency; cumbersome and costly procedures for obtaining Certificates of Occupancy, consents to mortgage, assignments, and leases; and a restriction, as stated in section 34(8) of the Act, on private developers to acquire a maximum of half a hectare of urban land. Since its enactment in 1978, the LUA’s objectives have not been fully realised. Therefore, it is imperative that the Act undergoes necessary amendments. As I mentioned earlier, I will collaborate closely with the National Assembly to facilitate a review of the Act.
Many Nigerians can’t afford roofs over their heads due to the escalating cost of building materials and exchange rates. What strategies will you employ to enhance local capabilities and reduce dependence on imported building materials for the delivery of affordable housing to Nigerians? The soaring cost of building materials is closely tied to the broader macroeconomic environment, including rampant inflation. However, I am dedicated to seeking innovative measures to reduce building material costs, enabling more Nigerians to secure housing. For one, I plan to foster the growth and sustainability of the Building Material Producers Association of Nigeria (BUMPAN) and similar institutions by offering fiscal incentives to small and medium-scale local manufacturers of building materials. This strategy aims to boost local production and gradually reduce dependence on imported building materials as part of a medium and long-term strategy. I will also encourage the adoption of appropriate and cost-effective house designs tailored to various regions of the country, addressing local considerations and preferences. Furthermore, I will support partnerships between research institutions and private organisations. This includes encouraging private sector organizations and other entities to fund research related to innovations in design, local materials, and their applications, as part of their corporate social responsibility. I intend to collaborate with institutions such as the Federal Ministry of Industries, Nigerian Building and Roads Research Institute, and Committee of Bankers to promote the growth of Small and Medium-Scale industries within the building materials sub-sector nationwide.
The Muhammadu Buhari administration embarked on housing projects across the federation that set a new price for houses in the real estate market, especially one-bedroom house types, costing between N7,222,404 and N9,268,751. These houses, we’ve gathered, are in obscure locations and incomplete. What do you intend to do to attract buyers? I am fully aware of the challenges that the latest version of the NHP faces in terms of selling houses that have been constructed and delivered. The prices are beyond the reach of the target market – low to medium income earner, and the locations are inaccessible. This situation has tied up significant government funds, and without swift action, these houses could begin to deteriorate. One assurance I can provide is that under my leadership, I will prioritise affordability in house design and delivery. In the case of this specific project, we will carefully study and review the factors that led to the current pricing and determine the best approach to make these houses accessible to Nigerians. The goal is to promote affordability, attract potential buyers, and ultimately ensure that these housing units benefit Nigerians.
The five-year term you had at FMBN set the apex mortgage bank on the path of transparency, profitability, efficiency, innovation, and wider impact as a social housing delivery institution. What were these achievements? I am proud to say that during my leadership at FMBN, the bank achieved unprecedented performance across all metrics. Among several other accomplishments, we increased Contributions to the National Housing Funds (NHF) Scheme by N279 billion (in five years), elevating it from the N232 billion collected over the past 25 years prior to my assumption of leadership in April 2017, to N511 billion by the conclusion of my tenure in April 2022. We also bolstered Affordable Housing Loan Disbursements by N175 billion (in five years), increasing it from N152 billion disbursed over the previous 25 years to N327 billion. Tangible outcomes include 5,938 NHF Mortgage loans enabling Nigerians to own their dream homes, the provision of Home Renovation Loans to 77,575 beneficiaries, and financing for the construction of over 13,339 affordable housing units. We optimised operations and increased NHF refunds to retired contributors by N39.5 billion, benefiting 247,521 individuals. This was a significant improvement from the N10.8 billion paid to 132,605 retirees during the 25 years preceding my leadership at the Bank. Additionally, I had the privilege of conceiving and launching the N40 billion FMBN Mega Cities Project aimed at creating liveable communities with infrastructure for low to middle-income Nigerians. Moreover, I led FMBN to take several unprecedented steps to make homeownership more affordable. Firstly, we undertook a downward review of equity requirements for FMBN housing loans, reducing the equity contribution from 10 to zero per cent for loans of N5 million and below, and from 30 to 10 per cent for loans above N5 million. Secondly, we developed innovative housing products for potential homeowners, including the Diaspora Mortgage Loan to protect Nigerians abroad from exploitation, the Individual Construction Loan to empower contributors with legal lands and reasonable bills of quantities for building their dream homes, and the Non-Interest Rent-to-Own (Ethical RTO) scheme to cater to the needs of many Nigerians seeking non-interest products. To ensure FMBN’s solid foundation, we collaborated with KPMG to develop a Five-Year Strategy Plan for the Bank. The plan aimed to deliver 100,000 housing units annually, increase NHF annual collections from N50 billion to over N300 billion, and expand the NHF customer base by 25 million new contributors primarily from the informal sector, to 31 million.
Hyderabad: KLH Global Business School of KL Deemed to be University welcomed its BBA and MBA batches of 2023 with an illustrious orientation program held on August 31, 2023, at the KLH Global Business School, Kondapur Campus. The event aimed to acquaint the incoming students with the institution’s values and academic offerings. The new students along with their parents visited to witness the transformative experience that would go beyond conventional education. It provided them a platform for meaningful interactions and understanding of the ethos and unique academic learning environment at the campus.
The program commenced with a ceremonial inauguration, marked by the lighting of the lamp and a soulful rendition of Saraswati Vandana, invoking the blessings of knowledge and wisdom. Distinguished dignitaries graced the stage, including the Chief Guest, Mr. Raju R L Kalidindi, Director and Head of India Operations at Salesforce.
Dr. G. Pardhasaradhi Varma, Vice Chancellor at KL Deemed to be University said “We are thrilled to have welcomed the dynamic undergraduate and post graduate management batches through our enlightening orientation program. The program marks the commencement of a new academic journey for them and encapsulates our institution’s values, academic prowess, and commitment to holistic student development. We’re poised to provide an education that transcends boundaries, nurturing innovation, and prepares students for success in a rapidly evolving national and global business landscape.”
In his address, Raju R L Kalidindi emphasized the need for continuous learning and updating to stay abreast of the dynamics of the business world. He also discussed the critical role of adaptability and innovation in a globalized economy. Dr. Anupama Gadiraju, In-charge of KLH Global Business School, along with Dr. Ramakrishna, Principal of KLH Hyderabad campus, and other esteemed dignitaries, delivered insightful addresses and led an engaging campus tour, setting the stage for an enriching academic journey for new students.
“I am very excited to have joined this business school. With ambition in my heart and eyes set on the future, I want to attain great heights. I am confident that my learning in this business school will play a pivotal role in both my personal and professional growth,” said Adithya Vardhan, who got admitted in the MBA program. Speaking with immense satisfaction on getting his ward admitted in BBA program, one of the parents said, “I feel that my daughter is now in the right hands. I found the faculty and their dedication to academic excellence up to the mark and this gives me confidence that they will aptly nurture the required skills, qualities and knowledge which will pave the way for her successful career. I also extend my gratitude to my friends who recommended this institution, as I see it really to be one of the best Business schools.”
On 8 January 2023, following a contentious national election, protestors attacked government buildings in Brazil’s capital. The riots were preceded by years of online disinformation, targeting lawmakers and the country’s electoral process. Striking parallels with the storming of the US Capitol two years prior underline the role that transnational networks play in pushing disinformation globally, and that of big tech standing idly by (at best).
Mr Ziad Shatara, Chief Executive Officer, Smart Axiata Cambodia, speaks to Khmer Times, in conjunction with the 66th Malaysia Day Special Edition.
Q: Could you share some of the milestones achieved by Smart Axiata as one of the leading telecom operators in the Kingdom?
A: Smart Axiata is one of the major contributors to the economy of the Kingdom of Cambodia, driving significant impact and acting as a catalyst for growth and innovation. In 2022, our national Gross Value Added (GVA) reached an impressive 416 million USD, representing a substantial 1.6% of the nation’s GDP. Moreover, we made a significant financial contribution of 103 million USD to the national treasury and public finance, accounting for 2% of the total tax revenue in the country. This achievement has earned us recognition as the fifth top tax-paying entity in Cambodia.
We pride ourselves on establishing a strong foundation of connectivity and continuously expanding our network, guided by our commitment to provide “4G for all.” It is with great honour that we have recently gained recognition for delivering the highest “4G Service Availability” to users in Cambodia.
Furthermore, Smart remains devoted to promoting the growth of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Cambodia. Through our Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (SADIF), we invested in local digital companies, including established enterprises such as Nham24 and Morakot Technologies. We empower local artists to become entrepreneurs and generate income through their music compositions and videos. Our commitment to fostering entrepreneurship extends to our corporate social responsibility programs, such as SmartSpark+, SmartStart Unipreneur Learning Program (ULP), and SmartEdu University Student Development Program (USDP). These programs aim to encourage and support the emergence of startups in Cambodia, nurturing the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Continuously at the forefront of innovation, we always introduce an array of digital services and solutions to enhance our customer experiences. Among our offerings are mobile internet of things (IoT) devices and solutions like Smart@Home for home WiFi and Smart Home solutions. In addition, we have launched digital platforms for entertainment, such as Pleng, and embarked on enterprise solutions, including Fleet Management and Smart Sponsored Call and Data.
Q: How has been the company contributing towards grooming local talents in the telecom sector?
A: Smart Axiata has made significant contributions to Cambodia’s economy by creating employment opportunities and equipping individuals with invaluable skills that are scarce in the country. In 2022, we supported a total of 57,100 individuals through both direct and indirect employment, prioritizing fair practices that embrace diversity and equal opportunities, with 97.6% of our workforce being Cambodian. Our commitment to continuous learning and development is at the core of our world-class human resources program, fostering a growth mindset and empowering employees at all levels. Through various training initiatives, workshops, and seminars, we provide opportunities for our employees to enhance their skills, stay updated with industry trends, and remain relevant in the dynamic telecom sector. Additionally, as part of the Axiata Group, Smart Axiata offers access to exposure and learning from telecom companies in other Asian countries within the group, serving as a centre of excellence and a valuable resource pool. This advantage empowers individuals who have been employed at Smart to excel in other organizations, particularly in the digital and technical fields.
Aside from grooming our employees, we are actively involved in grooming individuals in the community through various initiatives:
Scholarship Programs: We provide scholarships to support the education and development of underprivileged Cambodian students who are interested in pursuing careers in the telecom and digital sector.
Basic Education Equivalent Program (BEEP): We support the Basic Education Equivalent Program of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports and Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training under the facilitation of UNESCO, which aims to provide education opportunities to dropouts, giving them a second chance to continue their education and acquire valuable skills. This program plays a vital role in developing a skilled workforce by providing education and training to those who may have missed out on formal educational pathways.
Digital Internship 4.0 Program: Through our training and internship program called the Digital Internship 4.0 Program, we offer young Cambodians valuable hands-on experience and exposure to the telecommunications industry. This program is designed to enhance their skills, knowledge, and employability in the sector, preparing them for future career opportunities.
Q: What are your suggestions for the new Cabinet especially in terms of 5G rollout and other telecom reforms?
A: Smart recognizes the immense potential of 5G technology as a driver for economic growth in Cambodia. We understand that 5G is not solely a telecom revolution, but rather an opportunity to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of Cambodian products and services across various sectors.
The success of 5G technology is intricately linked to the reliable infrastructure of our established and maintained 4G networks. Our robust and stable 4G network places us as a key private sector partner in the ongoing development and implementation of 5G technology in Cambodia. We recognize the importance of public-private partnerships in driving sustainable economic and social development. As such, we are wholeheartedly dedicated to supporting and collaborating with the Royal Government of Cambodia to foster a more efficient and competitive nation, enabling a successful digital transformation journey for the country. By working hand in hand, our aim is to propel Cambodia’s technological advancement and facilitate its growth in the digital age.
Q: What are the challenges in the telecom sector as the Kingdom along with the world embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
A: The government’s ambition to achieve accelerated growth and create a digital economy and society in Cambodia implies that the telecom sector has high targets to meet in terms of growth, infrastructure development, connectivity, and innovation.
To achieve these ambitious goals, the telecom sector will need to make bigger investments in various areas. There will be a need for substantial investment in infrastructure development including expanding the network coverage, upgrading existing infrastructure, and deploying new technologies like 5G. These investments require significant capital and long-term planning.
The post-COVID lifestyle has necessitated a shift towards a more sophisticated digital way of life. As people spend more time online, their digital needs have become more diverse and complex. To keep up with the rapidly changing digital landscape, telecom companies must quickly adapt by fostering innovation and providing solutions that meet the evolving needs of businesses and consumers. This requires immediate investments in research and development, as well as collaboration with technology partners to stay at the forefront of technological advancements.
Despite the increasing demand for internet services, it is important to note that Cambodians heavily rely on mobile internet rather than fixed-line connections. It is necessary for Cambodia to focus on improving connectivity options. By doing so, telecom companies can effectively meet the high demand for mobile data services and provide users with seamless connectivity.
In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, cybersecurity and data privacy are paramount for responsible telecom businesses like us. We understand the importance of safeguarding businesses and consumers from cybersecurity breaches and data privacy violations. By adopting a zero-tolerance approach to such threats, we prioritize the protection of sensitive information and aim to maintain trust in the telecom sector. However, these efforts require substantial investments in cybersecurity and data privacy measures to safeguard customers’ sensitive information and maintain a secure digital ecosystem.
Q: Could you speak about your areas of cooperation and coordination with the Kingdom’s telecom regulator to ensure that the rights of customers are not taken for granted?
A: Advancements in technology have led to greater complexity in telecom products and services, which can be challenging for the average consumer to navigate. To address this, we must prioritize transparency and simplify our offerings. Smart has been closely collaborating with the Telecom Regulator of Cambodia to ensure that our products and services are transparent, easily understandable, and straightforward for customers. This has been achieved through the deployment of tools like SmartNas, our self-care app. With SmartNas, customers gain full control over their balance by having the ability to track their usage and monitor their remaining balance. This empowers customers to make informed decisions and effectively manage their telecom services. The aim is to provide clear and accessible information to customers, fostering trust and enhancing their overall experience with our products and services.
Q: What have been the efforts exerted by Smart Axiata to empower its transformation into a digital lifestyle brand?
A: At Smart, we have taken significant steps to transform into a digital lifestyle brand, by enhancing connectivity, offering diverse apps and content, facilitating digital transactions, and supporting startups and digital literacy. We empower individuals and businesses to fully embrace and benefit from the digital revolution.
Smart has been offering affordable devices to customers, such as the SmartHero series phone, that customers can easily afford to purchase.
We have prioritized expanding and enhancing network coverage, upgrading infrastructure, and introducing new technologies like home internet/fiber+ services. This ensures reliable and high-speed connectivity for customers, enabling seamless access to digital services and lifestyles.
We have established platforms, such as SmartPay and the Pleng app, to facilitate digital transactions. This allows our customers to conveniently make digital payments, transfer funds, and access financial services, supporting the growth of the digital economy and cashless payments.
At Smart, we are actively supporting digital startups. We offer a range of resources, mentorship programs, and funding opportunities to help startups thrive. Moreover, we promote digital literacy through our marketing campaign and engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to ensure that everyone has the necessary skills to succeed in the digital era.
Q: Being a quintessentially Malaysian company, do you see more and more Malaysian tech and telecom firms entering the Kingdom’s market and reaping success?
A: Smart is one of the key success stories of Malaysian investment in Cambodia. Being the sole prominent Malaysian player in the tech and telecom sector in the Kingdom, Smart has experienced remarkable growth and has become one of the largest telecom businesses, making a substantial contribution to Cambodia’s national economy and development agenda. This success serves as a testament to the potential for foreign direct investment companies to thrive and expand. Given the continued achievements and the conducive business environment that supports Smart’s growth in the Cambodian economy, it is highly likely to inspire other tech investors from Malaysia to explore opportunities for establishing additional tech firms in Cambodia.
Q: Could you throw some light on Smart’s partnerships with local franchise firms and businesses?
A: Smart has consistently played a role in promoting the growth and development of the local economy by supporting local firms and businesses. In 2022, we actively collaborated with 234 local suppliers, accounting for approximately 67% of our total suppliers. This collaboration resulted in the creation and support of approximately 57,100 jobs, both directly and indirectly, thus making a significant contribution to the local workforce and economic prosperity.
Moreover, we place great emphasis on encouraging our suppliers to adhere to the supplier code of conduct. This ensures that they meet ethical standards and practice responsible sourcing, contributing to the sustainable and healthy growth of the Cambodian economy.
Q: What are Smart’s future plans for the Kingdom’s telecom market? Could you share with our readers some of the products that are in the pipeline?
A: As we embark on our digitalization journey, we are committed to collaborating with the Royal Government of Cambodia to further evolve and expand our services. Our goal is to provide stable and high-quality connectivity to remote areas, bridging the digital divide and ensuring that more citizens have access to digital opportunities. In addition to connectivity, we are also focused on working with content developers and suppliers to create relevant and meaningful content for the public.
At Smart, we have consistently demonstrated our willingness to invest in and adopt new technologies. We prioritize both infrastructure development and the enhancement of our human capacity to embrace these innovations. In line with this, we are planning to introduce a diverse range of products that cater to the growing digital demands of consumers. This includes offerings for households as well as Business-to-Business (B2B) services, with a particular focus on supporting local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in their digital growth and business expansion in the digital economy.
Q: You are one of the top 10 taxpayers in the country and also a very active player in CSR and ESG activities. What motivates you in this and what benefits do you reap?
A: Sustainability is in our DNA, shaping every aspect of our operations. We think long-term, striving for the benefit of all. Our team believes wholeheartedly in the power of businesses to make a positive impact on society and the environment as part of our commitment to the National Building Agenda. Through our active engagement in CSR and ESG initiatives, we have leveraged our resources to address social and environmental concerns, creating meaningful change in society and the world. These endeavors not only fulfill our obligations, but also foster collaboration and partnerships with individuals, organizations, and government who share the same vision, sustainability. By joining forces, we gain access to a vast network of experts, resources, and innovative ideas, amplifying the magnitude of our impact and driving the effectiveness of our endeavours.
At Smart, we believe that sustainability goes beyond words – it is an integral part of our identity, driving us to make a real difference in the world.
Q: When do you foresee the 5G rollout?
A: As the digital economy and society continue to evolve, the 5G rollout in Cambodia is not a matter of “if” but “when.” At Smart, we are well-prepared and ready, regardless of the timing of Cambodia’s adoption. We have made the internal preparations and investments necessary for the 5G rollout, ensuring that we have the infrastructure and capabilities in place. Our teams are equipped with the necessary skills to handle 5G technology effectively. Once the country is ready to embrace 5G, we are excited to embark on this journey together to contribute to the growth and advancement of Cambodia.