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Themed “Forging Ahead as One”, SNCF Annual Co-operative Leader Conference (ACLC) 2019 aims to instil a collaborative culture among co-operatives to bring the co-operative movement to the next level. Held in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, the event saw over 110 participants coming together to learn, network and source for collaborative opportunities to grow their businesses.

Mr Kwek Kok Kwong
Mr Kwek Kok Kwong

SNCF Chairman Mr Kwek Kok Kwong gave his welcome address, sharing about how digital vortex will destruct the traditional businesses, and how Industry 4.0 will see humans working alongside robots especially in selected fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet-of-Things and sensors, cloud computing and blockchain. New jobs will be created and old ones will be gone.  Competition is intense and co-operatives are not spared. It is thus important that co-operatives continue to innovate and collaborate in order to survive and sustain.

The theme, collaboration was further expounded by our keynote speaker Mr S. Chandra Das, Immediate Past Chairman of Central Co-operative Fund Committee (CCFC).  Although Mr Das was not able to attend the conference due to a medical condition, he shared with the co-operative leaders his thoughts via a video.  He said: “If co-operatives do not innovate and get involved in new areas, they can face the same fate as companies like Kodak and Nokia who became irrelevant. For co-operatives to grow, it is crucial to share resources not only within the co-operative ecosystem but also with other business entities. Co-operation and sharing will enable one to withstand competition and disruption in the marketplace.” He ended his speech with a thought-provoking question, “Now one must ask the fundamental question… Is there a future for the co-operative model? If the answer is yes, then what are the new areas to be targeted?” Indeed, for the co-operative movement to forge ahead and be relevant, we need to continue to meet the needs of not only today, but tomorrow.

Prof Jack Sim
Prof Jack Sim

The presentation by the next speaker, Professor Jack Sim, Founder of World Toilet Organisation (WTO) was inspiring. He shared how he broke the cultural taboo by mixing it with humour using the example of WTO.  Mr Sim also leverages media, governments, policymakers, thought leaders and artistes to work together to raise awareness of the issue of sanitation of 2.4 billion people.

Mr Tng Ah Yiam
  Mr Tng Ah Yiam

How do we motivate, energise and get our team to perform to their full potential? Mr Tng Ah Yiam, Deputy CEO and Head of Products, NTUC FairPrice Co-operative, shared about his leadership journey in Cheers, and how he spent many months interacting with the staff on the ground to understand the problems they face.  He listened to all the suggestions from the working level and took them back to improve and in the process, he turned Cheers from red to green. So, before profits or losses, it is important to first understand the working level in order to come up appropriate measures to improve business.

Mr Nguyen Anh Duc
  Mr Nguyen Anh Duc

Oversea co-operatives play a part in the global co-operative movement as well. Hence, it is important that we learn from them as well. Mr Nguyen Anh Duc, Deputy CEO and Board Member of Saigon Co.op, shared how Saigon Co.op has changed through the years, and how it has been managing the change to become the leading retailer in Vietnam FMCG market.  Saigon Co.op is the only retailer that possesses the most formats of store in the market, including physical and non-physical stores. Saigon Co.op also works in manufacturing, sole distributor of goods and commercial real estates. It also collaborates with NTUC FairPrice Co-operative to further cement its hold in Ho Chi Minh City.

sncf aclc 2019 andrew chow balloons

Ever wonder how to make your profile standout in the market? Mr Andrew Chow, Media Strategies & Enneagram Coach, starting his presentation with a mini balloon activitiy. He also showed how to use LinkedIn to create a strong personal profile. It is personal branding equals uniqueness made visible.

Mr Wu Jiaqing
Mr Wu Jiaqing

 Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.”

This is emphasized in SNCF Relationship Manager Mr Wu Jiaqing’s, presentation on collaboration where several examples including the recent collaboration between AUPE Credit and NTUC LearningHub Co-operatives on making study loans available to foreign workers who want to upgrade their skillset were cited.

sncf aclc 2019 breakout session

The first day of the conference closed with the Breakout sessions. Co-operative are break into three groups, namely “Do Share”, “Do Well” and “Do Good”. The sessions enable the participants to learn more about the service offerings of fellow co-operatives, and identify possible opportunities to collaborate, be it business or social responsibility. GP+ Co-operative and co-operatives like Statutory Boards Employees’ and Seacare Co-operatives are in talks on the provision of health care screening services, while Ngee Ann Co-operative is open to working with Industrial & Services Co-operative Society (ISCOS) on offering help in education to ISCOS members’ children. SNCF will follow up on these possibilities with the relevant co-operatives. Through collaboration, co-operatives can achieve sustainability and work towards Co-operative 4.0.

Mr Low Choon Chye
Mr Low Choon Chye

At the Day 2 of Conference, we have Mr Low Choon Chye, SNCF scholar who is working at NTUC LearningHub Co-operative, sharing his journey at the NTUC LearningHub and how different generations (Gen X, Y, Millennial) can come together to unleash the best in everyone through the G.R.O.W Framework - Goal, Responsibility, Open-minded and Will – and they are the “KEY” for different generations to come together to create the synergy in everything that they do.

Once again, we had Professor Jack Sim from WTO to share his direction of an efficient Base-of-Pyramid (BoP) Hub to tackle poverty. His vision is to catalyse cross-sector collaboration and strengthen participation in social entrepreneurship. Through co-design, co-buy, co-distribute and co-operation, we can build an ecosystem where everyone is an active stakeholder and nobody is left behind.  He believes the co-operative model is best suited for BoP Hub, and that the future rests with those who understand the value of collaboration.

sncf aclc 2019 panel discussion

The panel discussion, moderated by Mr Mike Thiruman, General Secretary, Singapore Teachers’ Union (STU) and Deputy Chairman, Educare Co-operative, saw the panellists sharing their views on how co-operatives can collaborate and forge ahead as one. The concept, Co-operative 4.0, was also floated during this discussion. Many including myself left the conference thinking more about Co-operative 4.0. The conference wrapped up with a farewell gala dinner where participants were treated to cultural and LED dance performances, lucky draw and games, and more!

sncf aclc 2019 farewell dinner 1 sncf aclc 2019 farewell dinner 1 2

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