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Keynote Topic & Synopsis

Professor  Arnoud De Meyer

President, Singapore Management University, Singapore



Professor De Meyer is the fourth President of Singapore Management University.  Previously, he was Director of Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge where he was Professor of Management Studies and Fellow of Jesus College.  He was associated for 23 years with INSEAD where he held various senior academic and administrative positions, including founding Dean of INSEAD’s Asia Campus in Singapore. 

Professor De Meyer has a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, MBA and PhD in Management from the University of Ghent in Belgium.  He also pursued his studies as a visiting scholar at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA).  His research interests are in manufacturing and technology strategy; the implementation of new manufacturing technologies; the management of R&D; how innovation can be managed more effectively; project management under conditions of high uncertainty; management and innovation in Asia; the globalisation of Asian firms; the management of novel projects; and e-readiness in Europe.  His work is published widely in academic journals and he has written several books. 

Professor De Meyer serves on several boards including the Human Capital Leadership Institute, National Research Foundation, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, Singapore Symphonia Company Limited and Temasek Management Services.  He is an external director of Dassault Systèmes SA (France) and also Chair of the Strategic Advisory Committee of VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (Belgium). 


Leading in a Complex Knowledge Society: From Command and Control to Collaboration

Our world is changing rapidly: it is more global, very well networked, influenced by rapid technological change and more complex. Singapore itself may well be changing even more rapidly as it transitions into a sophisticated and mature knowledge economy with well informed and creative students and employees. How does one give leadership in such an environment? It cannot be the traditional leadership through command and control, or some form of charismatic leadership. While such approaches may still be needed under certain limited circumstances, leaders need to become better at ‘getting things done’ through communities of people, not by giving orders to teams of people.

I will analyze what the implications are of some of the changes that we see around us, and based on empirical studies I will provide some insights on what is really important for future leaders: how to build trust, how to live with ambiguity, how to become a better listener and how to “seduce” and convince your team in getting things done, and how to build collaborative networks.


Professor Hannele Niemi

Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland









Hannele Niemi has been Vice Rector for academic affairs at the University of Helsinki (2003–2009), Dean of the Faculty of Education (2001–2003), Head of the Department of Education and Vice-Dean at the University of Helsinki (1998–2000). She has been Professor in Teacher Education Departments of Oulu, Turku and Tampere Universities in Finland (1987–1998) and a Visiting Professor at Michigan State University (1989, 6 months) and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University 2010, 2013, and 2015 (total 7 months).

Professor Niemi has been a scientific leader of big national research projects in Finland e.g. Finnable 2020 ( for advancing educational technology and 21st century skills in schools (2012-2015) and a Director of the national research program "Life as Learning", Academy of Finland (2002–2006). She has been a member of the Steering Committee of the British national research programme (TLRP), Teaching and Learning Research Programme (2003-2008). She is an advisor or a reviewer in many research council and scientific journals.

Hannele Niemi has been invited as a Doctor or Professor Honoris Causa: University of Bucharest, Romania, 2010; J.C. Koh Professorship Nayang Technological University, Singapore, 2010, University of Lapland, 2012; National Defense University, Finland 2013. She has been rewarded as the most influential person in education in 2013 by the Finnish Teacher Union and invited as a member on Finnish Academy of Science and Letters in Academia Scientiarum Fennica 2004.

Niemi has contributed to many European Union [EU] and The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] projects as an expert or researcher and served as a keynote lecturer at several international forums in all continents. Her main research interest areas are teachers’ professional development, quality of teacher education, moral education, and technology-based learning environments. She has published several articles and books on education in Finland on Finnish teacher education (Finnish Innovations and Technologies in Schools: Towards New Ecosystems of Learning, 2014; The Miracle of Education: The Principles and Practices of Teaching and Learning in Finnish Schools, 2012; Research-Based Teacher Education in Finland, 2006; and Education as a Societal Contributor, 2007).


Supporting Schools to become Learning Communities –  Experiences from Finland and Other Countries.

Educational system can be different in terms of centralized or decentralized administration. In spite of differences there are many commonalities of principals’ role and effectiveness. Leaders are playing a key role how a school can become a learning community, especially in changing and unpredictable times. The learning community is like an ecosystem in which many factors are mutually inter-related. Principals are in a key position to get all teachers committed to joint objectives for students’ high quality learning.  The most important is to create  a sharing professional culture among teachers and support systems for their development. Open communication in a school community as well as co-operation with parents and other educational partners are elements  in  the ecosystem of the learning community.The influence of principals is particularly significant with regard to ways in which new technology will be integrated as a whole school resource and the creation of a new communicative teaching and learning culture. The presentation provides good practices of leadership in the Finnish educational system as well as some other OECD countries when supporting schools as learning communities.

Dr Thomas Hoerr

Emeritus Head of School, New City School, United States




Dr. Tom Hoerr served as the head of the New City School in St. Louis, MO from 1981 to 2015, and was named Emeritus Head of School upon his retirement. New City, an independent school of 340 students, age three through grade six, has implemented the theory of multiple intelligences (MI) since 1988. Hoerr worked as a teacher and principal in public schools, has been an adjunct teacher at three universities, and founded and directed the Non-Profit Management Program at Washington University in St. Louis. He leads the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) New Heads Network and serves on the ISACS board of trustees. Hoerr is a Scholar-In-Residence at The University of Missouri-St. Louis and teaches in the New Leaders principal preparation program. He holds a Ph.D. in educational programming and policy development from Washington University.

Hoerr is the author of Fostering Grit: How do I prepare my students for the real world? (Arias Press, 2013), and three other books: The Art of School Leadership, Becoming a Multiple Intelligences School, and School Leadership for the Future. More than 100 of his articles have been published, and his “Principal Connection” column appears monthly in Educational Leadership. Hoerr has presented at conferences around the world on grit, leadership, multiple intelligences, and faculty collegiality.

Leading for the Future: Culture Is Key

Leadership is an art, built on relationships, and good principals use those relationships to create a culture of faculty collegiality and grit in which everyone learns and grows. Sometimes we take our school’s culture for granted, just as a fish may not be aware of water. But whether culture is formed intentionally as part of a plan, or is more organic, stemming from particular practices and traditions, it frames the attitudes, expectations, and behaviors of everyone in a school, students and adults. Dr. Hoerr will cause us to reflect on the culture in our schools and share some ideas and strategies that he has used to help students to learn and teachers to grow.

Professor Emeritus Craig Richards

Director, Summer Principals Academy, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States


Dr. Craig E. Richards is the Founding Director of the Summer Principals Academy (SPA). Established in New York at Columbia University in 2005, SPA now has over 1200 graduates. Dr. Richards retired from Columbia University as Professor Emeritus.  However, he continues to work for the university leading a SPA program in New Orleans with a cohort masters degree of 40 students from 12 southern states. Dr. Richards has an extensive background in education leadership and finance policy, coauthoring textbooks and research articles on finance, data-driven leadership, and the uses of technology in leadership development. As a long-time practitioner of meditation, he has developed a unique curriculum on self-awareness training for emerging leaders in education systems and has published with Oxford University Press and the Teachers College Record about these practices. His latest book, The Art of Self-Leadership, (available on Kindle) encapsulates these innovations and their implications for leadership development and the training of school leaders in self-awareness practices. He recently received a $100,000 grant from the 1440 Foundation to continue this work.

Most recently, Dr. Richards has become deeply immersed in the integration of technology as a leadership development platform, and has begun experimenting with multi-media case studies for teaching leadership in collaboration with his faculty and graduate students. He views multi-media cases as provocative vehicles for mindfulness training and leadership decision- making and is seeking funding to use bio-feedback technology in combination with high-stress decision-making to promote positive self-regulation of emotions in challenging leadership contexts. He has also developed an innovative leadership professional development program for Chinese students, teachers and principals in collaboration with Columbia doctoral student Sarah Wang. Together, they have trained over 300 participants in experiential leadership development.

Professor Richards completed his graduate work at Stanford University receiving his MA in Economics and his Ph.D. in Education in 1983. He worked with Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman at the National Center for Educational Research and Policy at Rutgers University for five years prior to arriving at Teachers College in 1989. Professor Richards is a former school principal and founder of two innovative alternative schools in the 1970s. He has consulted widely on leadership development both nationally and internationally including Argentina, Bhutan, China, Russia, and the Ukraine. His previously published books include: The Art of Self-Leadership, Rethinking Effective Schools: Research and Practice, Microcomputer Applications for Strategic Management in Education, The Ecology of Educational Systems, Risky Business: Private Management of Public Schools, and Financing Education Systems.

Innovation in School Leadership Preparation

Dr. Richards' reports on a 12-year innovative experiment in leadership preparation at Teachers College, Columbia University. The program is modeled on an executive MBA format, emphasizing several innovations in curriculum, including: co-teaching, new school design, group problem-solving, skill development in conflict resolution, team-building, and mentoring, and new school design.  The Summer Principals Academy has graduated over 1,200 Masters degree students since 2005 and is currently the largest elite university graduate program in the US.  

Professor Walter Woon

Deputy Chairman, Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore, Singapore


Professor Woon is currently David Marshall Professor at the Law Faculty and Deputy Chairman of the Centre for International Law (CIL), National University of Singapore.  He is concurrently Dean of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (SILE), which conducts the Bar Examinations and Foreign Practitioner Examinations for entry into the legal profession.  Professor Woon also is chairman of the Society of International Law Singapore (SILS), as well as an Executive Council Member of the Asian Society of International Law (Asian SIL).  In addition he is President of the Goethe Institut (Singapore Branch), and a member of the Films Appeal Committee, the Criminal Practice Committee of the Law Society of Singapore and the Chancery Bar Association of England and Wales.  In January 2015 he was appointed Chairman of the firm RHT Law Taylor Wessing, of which he is a senior consultant.

He was a Nominated Member of Parliament (1992 to 1996), during which time he was instrumental in the passage of the Maintenance of Parents Act, which he introduced as a private member’s bill. From 1995 to 1997 he was Legal Adviser to the President and Council of Presidential Advisers.

From 1998 to 2006 he was Singapore’s ambassador to Germany, Greece, the European Communities, the European Union, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the Holy See.

He served as Solicitor-General from 2006 to 2008 and subsequently became Attorney-General from 2008 to 2010.  He has also been Judge Advocate-General and a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights and the board of directors of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Professor Woon is the author of four historical novels set in the period 1937-1945 in Singapore: The Advocate’s Devil (Times Books International, 2002), The Devil to Pay (Marshall Cavendish International, 2005), The Devil’s Circle (Marshall Cavendish International, 2011) and The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Marshall Cavendish International, 2014).  His short story ‘Sinclair’s War’ placed Third in the Asiaweek Short Story Competition 1983.  He was awarded a prize in National Short Story Competition 1985 for the story ‘The Body in Question’.  In November 2012 and again in November 2014 he was a featured author at the Singapore Writers Festival organised by the National Arts Council.


Leadership in a VUCA World

There was a time when age and experience were virtues and respected almost as a matter of course.  That world has disappeared.  Rapid technological and social developments in the last half of the twentieth century have created a society where people are more sceptical of authority and do not readily accept the validity of what leaders say.  It was possible in the 'sixties for a political leader, businessman, educator or professional to command obedience by virtue of his position.  This is no longer so.  Young people today question the competence of their seniors in the public service and professions.  A better-educated electorate taught that we live in a democratic society based on justice and equality no longer will accept autocratic leaders who act unfairly.  Students in junior colleges and universities ask what qualifications those who teach them possess.  More than ever, leaders must earn the mantle of leadership, not just inherit it.  In a world where change is constant, leadership requires intellectual flexibility to adapt to new realities in order to retain the trust and respect of the target audience.

Professor Sharon Friesen

Vice-Dean, Werklund School of Education University of Calgary, Canada



Sharon is the Vice Dean of the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.  She is also the President of the Galileo Educational Network.  Her research interests include the ways in which K-12 educational structures, curriculum and learning need to be reinvented for a knowledge/learning society.   She draws upon the learning sciences to study: (i) the promotion of deep intellectual engagement, (ii) the ability to create learning environments that require sustained work with ideas (iii) the pervasiveness of networked digital technologies that open up new ways of knowing, leading, teaching, working and living in the world.  She has co-authored four books.  Sharon has received numerous awards, for her research, leadership and teaching.

Creating Adaptive Learning Capacity 

Leaders, who become partners with teachers to explore, lead and enact new pedagogies and new structures to support, strengthen and improve teaching and student learning, invite change in the schools they lead. This presentation focuses on the research in which leaders and teachers working in partnership to change the culture of their schools and build capacity creating complex adaptive learning systems.

Ms Chia Yong Yong

Partner, Yusarn Audrey & Partners, Singapore



Ms Chia Yong Yong is a Partner in the Corporate Department of Yusarn Audrey. Her main areas of practice are in corporate acquisitions, finance and restructuring, monetization of intellectual property and securities and financial services compliance requirements.

Ms Chia also serves as a volunteer in social services. In 2011, she was awarded the President’s Social Service Award, Individual Category, by the President of the Republic of Singapore for voluntary contributions made to the social service sector. She has been the President of the Society for the Physically Disabled since 2008. In recognition of her exemplary service rendered to Singapore, Yong Yong was awarded the Public Service Medal (PBM) in the National Day Awards 2013. She is a member of the Committee for the Future Economy, and has been involved in Our Singapore Conversation and REACH. She has also represented Singapore at the United Nations Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the ASEAN Inter-Government Commission on Human Rights, Bangkok, speaking on the Singapore perspective on rights of persons with disabilities.

Leading for the Future

Miss Chia will share a macro perspective of the disability sector and a bit of her own personal experiences while growing up. She will also share her thoughts on the importance of the role of educators as influencers, advisers and facilitators both in the nurturing of children with disabilities, as well as in the building of an inclusive environment which in turn nurtures future leaders.