Past Event

SEADS 2020

The New Normal: Driving 
Economic Recovery
through Digital Innovation

21 October 2020 I Online

Watch Recordings



Discover the latest cutting-edge breakthroughs that can help countries tackle pressing challenges.


Hear from leading minds and trailblazers from industry, technology, the public sector, and academia. 


Interact with problem-solvers and next-generation thinkers from Southeast Asia and beyond.

Development Solutions at Your Fingertips

The Southeast Asia Development Symposium—SEADS—delivers innovations, solutions, and connections to help countries in the region:

  • Address poverty and reduce inequalities; 
  • Accelerate progress in gender equality;
  • Tackle climate change, build climate and disaster resilience, and enhance environmental sustainability; 
  • Make cities more livable;
  • Promote rural development and food security; 
  • Strengthen governance and institutional capacity; and 
  • Foster regional cooperation and integration.

Sowing SEADS of Growth

The Southeast Asia Development Symposium—SEADS—aims to help crystallize thinking on relevant and critical issues in the region, and support countries in becoming prosperous, knowledge-based, and sustainable.


Our agenda was designed to highlight digital solutions already making a difference in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.


Dive deeper into our themes with these special sessions and find out digital’s roles in spurring inclusive economic recovery, improving government services, and widening access to education and healthcare.


Revisit SEADS 2020.

President, Asian Development Bank

Masatsugu Asakawa is the President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Chairperson of ADB’s Board of Directors. He was elected President by ADB’s Board of Governors and assumed office on 17 January 2020.

He previously served as Special Advisor to Japan’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and has a close-to-four decades’ career at the Ministry of Finance with diverse professional experiences that cut across both domestic and international fronts.

In the immediate aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, Mr. Asakawa, in his capacity as Executive Assistant to Prime Minister Taro Aso, took part in the first G20 Leaders’ Summit Meeting in November 2008. He was instrumental in orchestrating a globally coordinated financial package to abate the financial crisis, including a $100-billion loan from Japan to the IMF. Then in 2016, in his capacity as Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, he took on a leading role for the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Sendai under the Japanese presidency, where sustainable and inclusive development agenda was extensively discussed.

Most recently, he served as Finance Deputy for the G20 meetings under the Japanese Presidency, playing a pivotal role for the success of the G20 Osaka Summit as well as the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Fukuoka. Some of his outstanding achievements in Osaka include endorsement by the G20 Leaders of the “G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment” and the “G20 Shared Understanding on the Importance of UHC Financing in Developing Countries”. Before all this, he had occupied various prominent positions within the Finance Ministry, including director positions in charge of development policy issues, foreign exchange markets and international tax policy.

Mr. Asakawa’s professional experience extends beyond the realms of the Japanese Government. Most notably, he served as Chief Advisor to ADB President Kimimasa Tarumizu between 1989 and 1992, during which he spearheaded the creation of a new office that focuses on strategic planning. Also, he had frequent engagement with the OECD in such positions as Chair for Committee on Fiscal Affairs (2011–2016). Furthermore, he was a senior staff at the Fiscal Affairs Department of IMF (1996–2000).

In the meantime, he gave lectures as Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Economic Science, Saitama University (2006–2009), and at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo (2012–2015).

Mr. Asakawa obtained his BA from University of Tokyo (Economics Faculty) in 1981, and MPA from Princeton University, USA, in 1985.

Minister of Finance, Indonesia

Sri Mulyani Indrawati earned her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Universitas Indonesia in 1986. She went for further studies at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, United States and earned a Master’s degree on Policy Economics in 1990. She earned her PhD on Economics in 1992.

This specialist on Monetary Economy and Banking as well as Labor Economics research was chosen to be the Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), representing 12 countries in the South East Asia (SEA Group), in October 2002.

On 5 December 2005, she was appointed as Indonesia’s Minister of Finance. As Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati was credited for stabilizing the macroeconomy, maintaining prudent fiscal policy, lowering the cost of loan, managing debt, as well as fostering trust among investors. She also initiated reforms at the Ministry of Finance, creating fundamental changes.

On 18 September 2006, Sri Mulyani Indrawati was named as the Best Minister of Finance in Asia by Emerging Markets.

She was also named as the 23rd world’s most influential woman by Forbes magazine in 2008 and the 2nd most influential woman in Indonesia by Globe Asia magazine in October 2007. Sri Mulyani Indrawati was also awarded as the Best Minister of Finance for 2006 by Euromoney and the Best Minister of Finance in Asia by the Emerging Market Forum on the same year.

In 2008, she served as the Acting Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs. She was then appointed as the Executive Director of the World Bank in June 2010.

On 27 July 2016, President Joko Widodo appointed Sri Mulyani Indrawati as Indonesia’s Minister of Finance.

On 11 February 2018, the World Government Summit named her as the Best Minister in the World.

General Manager, Public Sector, APAC, Microsoft

Sherie Ng has 25 years experience in the high technology environment across banking and finance, telecommunications, government, and the oil and gas industries, performing management and global leadership roles largely in business and organizational transformation.

As General Manager, Public Sector, APAC in Microsoft, Sherie spearheads the company’s businesses and partnerships with public sector institutions (government agencies, state-owned enterprise, healthcare and educational institutions) across the Asia Pacific. Sherie champions the company’s social impact engagements across the region.

Prior to Microsoft, Sherie was the Managing Director at NICE Systems. She was responsible for driving top-line growth via customer acquisition and growing the company’s ecosystem of partners while committing to grow NICE’s bottomline.

Sherie was appointed Vice President for Marketing in the Asia Pacific at Invensys Operations Management in March 2008 and was part of the company’s global leadership team. Her mission was to drive business growth and expand the company’s footprint in Asia Pacific through brand and business model transformation.

Prior to joining Invensys Operations Management, Sherie was the Director of Brand Experience at SingTel, responsible for managing the company’s $2-billion global brand asset. She also worked as Vice President for Marketing at Comverse Technologies, responsible for the growth of the company’s brand leadership, cultural transformation, breakthrough into new markets and business growth in the Asia Pacific.

Sherie also held senior regional sales and marketing leadership positions at technology heavyweights such as CSG Systems and Lucent Technologies.

Managing Partner, 500 Startups

Khailee Ng is a managing partner at 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley-based venture-capital firm. Beyond investing in Silicon Valley, 500 Startups has set up more than a dozen funds in emerging markets, providing seed capital and growth programs to countries in the Middle East, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Since 2010, the firm has invested in over 2,200 startups in more than 70 countries, in line with its goal of developing an inclu-sive and globally connected innovation economy.

With the firm, Khailee has led more than 180 investments in Southeast Asian tech startups, including Grab, Carousell, and other regional champions. Prior to this, he was the founder of Groupsmore (acquired by Groupon) and Malaysia’s largest online media company, (acquired by Media Prima).

As every industry continues to be disrupted by new technology and evolving consumer landscapes, Khailee and 500 Startups specialize in discovering patterns of economic opportunity and investing in the entrepreneurs who will realize them. His investment ac-tivity and industry opinions are featured in Bloomberg, TechCrunch, Wall Street Journal, and Fortune. The 500 Startups portfolio of companies has collectively raised over $10 billion.

Vice President, Asian Development Bank

Mr. Ahmed M. Saeed is the Vice-President (Operations 2) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He was appointed by ADB on 26 February 2019. Mr. Saeed is responsible for operations in the East Asia Department, the Southeast Asia Department, and the Pacific Department.

Mr. Saeed was formerly the Managing Director and Head of Public Sector for Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan at JP Morgan Chase in Dubai, UAE. He previously worked in the US Department of the Treasury as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East and Africa and as White House Fellow and Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury. He has experience working with many governments, central banks, finance ministries, and sovereign wealth funds on a broad range of economic and financial issues. Mr. Saeed holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Chicago Law School and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Minister of Education and Culture, Indonesia

Nadiem Anwar Makarim is the Minister of Education and Culture of Indonesia. He was appointed by President Joko Widodo in 2019.

Before he joined the government, Nadiem was a technopreneur. In 2010, he founded transportation network company Gojek, which became Indonesia's first startup valued at over $10 billion. He was CEO at Gojek from 2010 to 2019.

Between 2013 and 2014 he was the Chief Innovation Officer at payments company Kartuku. He also co-founded online retailer Zalora and was Managing Director between 2011 and 2012.

He has a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor’s in International Relations from Brown University.

Vice President, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Google Asia Pacific

Former Ambassador Ted Osius joined Google in February 2019 as Vice President for Government Affairs and Public Policy for the Asia Pacific. He brings 30 years of government and private sector experience to the company.

Previously a senior advisor at the Albright-Stonebridge Group, Mr. Osius served as US ambassador to Viet Nam from 2014 to 2017. Leading a team of 900, Ambassador Osius devised and implemented strategies to deepen economic, security and cultural ties between the two countries.

Earlier, Ambassador Osius was associate professor at the National War College and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Political Minister-Counselor in New Delhi, India. He also served as deputy director of the Office of Korean Affairs at the State Department, regional environment officer for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and senior advisor on Asia and trade to Vice President Al Gore.

Ambassador Osius has authored numerous articles on Foreign Service tradecraft and US–Asia policy, and is writing a book on US–Viet Nam reconciliation. He wrote his first book, The US–Japan Security Alliance: Why It Matters and How to Strengthen It (CSIS/Praeger 2002) while a fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs (日本国際 問題研究所). While at CSIS, he published “Global Swing States: Deepening Partnerships with India and Indonesia” (Asia Policy, January 2014), and Enhancing India-ASEAN Connectivity. He contributed to A US-Indonesia Partnership for 2020.

Ambassador Osius earned a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and an Honorary Doctorate from Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education. He was the first US ambassador to receive the Order of Friendship from the President of Viet Nam.

A founding member of GLIFAA (aka Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies), Ambassador Osius is married to Clayton Alan Bond; the couple has a 5-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.

Senior Vice President for Public – Private Partnership, Mastercard

Mimi Alemayehou is Senior Vice President for Public–Private Partnership at Mastercard.

Prior to joining Mastercard, Ms. Alemayehou was the Managing Director and a member of the Board of Directors for Black Rhino Group (a portfolio company of Blackstone), an investment platform focused on the development and acquisition of energy and infrastructure assets across Africa.

Her previous roles included Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the development finance agency of the US Government, which provides loans, guarantees, and insurance to catalyze foreign direct investment and private equity into emerging markets. Ms. Alemayehou was appointed to the post by President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the full Senate. During Ms. Alemayehou’s tenure from 2010 to 2014, OPIC’s portfolio grew by more than 24% to $18 billion and the corporation’s Africa portfolio tripled to nearly $4 billion.

Previously, Ms. Alemayehou was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the United States Executive Director on the Board of Directors for the African Development Bank (AfDB). The AfDB Board is responsible for approving all loans to governments and investments to private sector companies by the largest African development finance institution. In this role, Ms. Alemayehou was the senior US Treasury Department official in Africa representing the United States on policy and development issues across the continent. Ms. Alemayehou received a Distinguished Honor Award for her outstanding service from then-United States Secretary of Treasury, Henry Paulson.

Ms. Alemayehou is currently on the Board of FinDev Canada, The ONE Campaign, and The Energy for Growth Hub.

Director General, Southeast Asia Regional Department, ADB

Ramesh Subramaniam is the Director General of the Southeast Asia Regional Department of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He oversees ADB’s relationship and public sector work (including all technical assistance, knowledge generation and dissemination, and grant and loan projects) in all countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He is also in-charge of ADB’s support for all subregional cooperation initiatives in the region, including ASEAN, Brunei–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, Greater Mekong Subregion, and Indonesia–Malaysia–Thailand Growth Triangle.

With ADB for over 20 years, Ramesh has worked on several projects across the Asia–Pacific region. Infrastructure financing is among his primary areas of interest. He represents ADB on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on long-term investment and infrastructure development. He has a PhD in Economics from McMaster University (Canada), and has had post-doctoral fellowships in development economics and corporate finance and industry at Yale University (USA) and University of St. Andrews (UK).

Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Cambodia

Huot Pum is the Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Cambodia. After completing his Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 1998 at the Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE), where he received top honors, Mr. Huot pursued further studies at the Université Lumière Lyon 2, Lyon, France from 1998 to 2008. He was awarded a BA, MA and PhD in Banking, Finance and International Economics.

Following his return to Cambodia, Mr. Huot worked as Assistant Professor at RULE, and as an official at the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports before becoming an official at the Ministry of Economy and Finance and at the Supreme National Economic Council.

In 2008, he was appointed as Deputy Director General at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia. He held the position until early 2012.

From early 2012 to mid-2019, he was recruited as an Economist and Coordination and Technical Assistance Officer at the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomics Research Office-AMRO, based in Singapore.

Currently, Mr. Huot is also the Deputy Secretary General at the General Secretariat for the Committee on Economic and Financial Policy, based at the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Head of Regional Operations, Grab

Russell Cohen leads Grab’s country teams (ex-Indonesia) and operations across Southeast Asia. He is responsible for Grab’s rideshare, transport, GrabFood, and delivery businesses. Russell leads business, safety and operational performance, as well as steering major corporate initiatives such as Grab’s acquisition of Uber's Southeast Asia business in 2018.

Russell has 20 years leadership experience in the mobile, telecom and software industries, leading teams and businesses across Asia Pacific while living in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan.

Prior to Grab, Russell was with SoftBank C&S in Tokyo as Board Director and Vice-President of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, leading new business, partnerships and M&A strategy. He joined SoftBank following the acquisition of Brightstar Corp., where he was Regional Managing Director of Asia, covering nine markets across the region. Russell also established and ran the Greater China region for Brightstar from Hong Kong. Prior to Brightstar, Russell worked at Telstra Corp. in Australia.

Russell holds a Master of IT from University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting & Finance) from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Founder, The MeshMinds Foundation

Kay Poh Gek Vasey is the Founder of The MeshMinds Foundation, a registered not-for-profit arts organization that empowers artists in Singapore to focus on the sustainable development of people and our planet. The MeshMinds Foundation is supported by its sister organization, MeshMinds, a creative technology studio partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), specializing in harnessing immersive and interactive technology, such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality, to maximize engagement, empathy and action towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Together, the MeshMinds’s mission is to bring together art and technology for good.

Kay was born to a Singaporean mother and British father in the lush jungles of Brunei Darussalam, where she lived for her first 10 years, journeying to Singapore every 6 months. A love of nature came to her early, and sea turtle conservation camps were a feature of her youth.

It was the urban jungle where she started her professional career, as a media and technology lawyer. While in London, she spotted a trend that captured her imagination: Big tech companies like Google and Facebook partnering with artists.

One of Kay’s proudest moments was being selected to address a room full of ministers, business leaders and environmentalists from across Asia Pacific at the United Nations Asia–Pacific headquarters in Bangkok. In November 2019, Kay presented CleanSeas AR, an interactive face filter on Instagram made in partnership with the ArtScience Museum, with original artwork by Singapore artist, André Wee.

MeshMinds is the first creative technology studio to be welcomed to join the Apple Consultants Network after a ground-breaking creative technology show at the ArtScience Museum in March 2019, which attracted over 10,000 visitors in 10 days. The show featured an all-Singaporean cast of eight professional artists and 10 student artists from the LASALLE College of the Arts. Kay was later selected by Apple to meet Tim Cook during a hands-on workshop using iPad to show children how to draw their own plastic sea creatures inspired by CleanSeas AR. His reaction was, “This is exactly what we want to see Apple technology being applied for.”

For World Environment Day 2020, MeshMinds reached record results with a first-of-its-kind AR game for Instagram. Run For Nature by the UN Environment Programme, that MeshMinds built using Spark AR from Facebook, reached over a million people across 90 countries covering every continent, bar Antarctica. More than 14% of those who played challenged their friends by sharing a pledge #ForNature, which is far above the industry standard engagement rate of 4% for Instagram posts.

As Chief Connecting Officer at MeshMinds, Kay spends her days bringing together the worlds of art and technology. She believes in the power of artists to inform conversations and inspire positive actions that result in measurable impact for a better world. To do this, she will continue to focus on the education of artists and growth through partnerships with technology companies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Founder and CEO, mClinica Pharmacy Solutions

Farouk Meralli is the Founder and CEO of mClinica Pharmacy Solutions, a healthcare startup connecting pharmacies in emerging markets through a common mobile technology platform. mClinica operates across Southeast Asia connecting over 40,000 pharmacies and 185,000 pharmacy professionals which reach over 150 million patients.

Previously, Farouk held senior roles in strategy and product development at global pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Sanofi, and Roche. He is the recipient of the Harvard Alumni Public Health Innovator Award, an Endeavor Entrepreneur, a Board Advisor at PATH, and the Chair and Founder of non-profit organization, Borderless World Volunteers. He holds a Bachelor's in Biomedical Sciences and International Development Studies from McGill University and a Masters in Health Policy and Management from Harvard University.

CNBC Catalyst

Lisa Oake is the former co-host of CNBC Asia’s top-rated morning program Squawk Box. She has 20 years of experience covering global economics, business and politics. She has conducted thousands of interviews with CEOs, central bank governors, and heads of state. Lisa was the first journalist to report live from the trading floor of the Singapore Exchange and to interview the President of Indonesia after the devastation of the 2004 tsunami.