Tanoto Foundation Supports the Wharton-SMU Dialogue

Over 100 guests comprising alumni from the Wharton School and Singapore Management University (SMU), as well as academics, industry experts and businessmen, participated in the Wharton-SMU dialogue on Monday, 5 March 2018. Supported by Tanoto Foundation, the dialogue featured a panel discussion on the topic ‘The New World Order: Implications for Asia and Global Trade’. Graced by Guest-of-Honour former Singapore President and SMU Honorary Patron Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, the event likewise marked the 20th year since the Wharton School collaborated with SMU on curriculum design, faculty development and various other research areas.

Tinah Sukanto Tanoto Founders Foundation Singapore President Tony Tan Arnoud De Meyer SMU Wharton Dialogue

(L to R): Mrs Tinah Bingei Tanoto and Mr Sukanto Tanoto (Founders of Tanoto Foundation), former Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam (Guest-of-Honour), Professor Arnoud De Meyer (President of SMU)

Collaborative relationships

Besides explaining the relationship between the Wharton School and SMU, Professor Arnoud De Meyer highlighted SMU’s close relationship with the Tanoto Foundation in his welcome address. “Mr Sukanto Tanoto has been a friend of SMU since 2000. As Chairman of the Tanoto Foundation, he established the Foreign Students Endowed Scholarship (now renamed Tanoto Scholarship),” he said.

Mr Bey Soo Khiang, Chairman of Tanoto Foundation’s Board of Governance also welcomed guests and highlighted that it was not the first time for the three institutions to collaborate together. “Tanoto Foundation together with APRIL, a business unit of RGE, annually hosts the Wharton-SMU Global Modular Course for students when they are in Indonesia. There, the students learn how a business operates on the basis that it must first do good for the community, good for the country, good for climate, good for the customers, only then will it be good for the company.”

“This Wharton-SMU Dialogue is a recognition of the importance of developing strong relations across borders, of bringing people together and forging strong partnerships committed to fostering unity, and of improving lives to tackle various uncertainties in an increasingly disruptive world. This is even more critical for the continued development of Asia, as it continues to fulfill the role expected of it in a world that is pivoting more and more to the East”, he added.

 Bey Soo Khiang Tanoto Foundation Vice Chairman Wharton-SMU Dialogue

Mr Bey Soo Khiang, Chairman of Tanoto Foundation Board of Governance, delivering his welcome remarks

The Wharton-Tanoto Initiative

In 2013, Tanoto Foundation established the Wharton-Tanoto Initiative which aims to improve the quality of business education and research on ASEAN with a strong focus on Indonesia through research grants to Wharton faculties. Apart from research grants, the Foundation provides funding for Wharton faculty staff to travel to ASEAN with a focus on Indonesia to gain in depth first hand exposure to the region. Every year, the Global Faculty Development Program under the Wharton Tanoto Initiative brings selected faculty staff from Indonesian universities to Wharton for mentoring and training on how to get their research published in top tier international journals.

Mr Sukanto Tanoto is a Member of the Board of Overseers and of the Board for Asia Members in the Wharton School. His three children, Imelda Tanoto, Belinda Tanoto and Anderson Tanoto are all Wharton alumni and have recently been included in this school’s “40 Under 40” list. Anderson sits on the Wharton Executive Board of Asia.

Tanoto Scholarship at SMU

To date, the Tanoto Foundation scholarship at SMU has benefitted a total of 30 students.  The bond-free scholarship covers full tuition fees and provides an allowance for all four years of university education. SMU’s Tanoto scholars collaborate with their counterparts from other institutions in an annual student-led community service project called Project Sukacita. The project allows scholars to volunteer for activities that help raise the standard and quality of life for residents in Kerinci, Riau, Indonesia through several public health awareness and clean-up campaigns.

Wharton-SMU Wharton-SMU Dialogue

Panel discussion on the ‘New World Order’

Following the welcome speeches, Professor Geoffrey Garrett, Dean of the Wharton School, shared his insights on America, China and the future of Asia. An exchange on the ‘New World Order’ and its implications for Asia and global trade ensued.

Panellists comprised

  • Professor Geoffrey Garrett, Dean, The Wharton School
  • Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore
  • Ms Chloe Cho, Moderator, Channel NewsAsia
  • Mr Helman Sitohang, Member of the Executive Board, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific, Credit Suisse
  • Professor Gerard George, Dean, Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University

The dialogue began with a debate on whether the world is shifting to a two-polar (China-US) world order, or a multi-polar one where India, Japan, Russia, and the EU join China as well as the US as global poles of power and influence. Panellists also shared their perspectives on various issues such as the tension between geo-politics and geo-economics, the global competition for natural, human and digital resources, the race for innovation, as well as the need to tackle the challenges from climate change.

Watch the full episode here