Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Smart moulding students into ‘digital leaders’ to drive Kingdom’s economy

Smart moulding students into ‘digital leaders’ to drive Kingdom’s economy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
One big happy family! Students and VIPs at the closing of the USDP awards presentation ceremony held in Phnom Penh on December 1. Post staff

Smart moulding students into ‘digital leaders’ to drive Kingdom’s economy

Smart Axiata’s CEO, Thomas Hundt, has a bigger ambition besides promoting his company’s mobile phone network and expanding its subscriber base in Cambodia.

He is working closely with the government to build “future digital leaders” – a grand plan to equip and empower Cambodians with digital knowledge.

This is in support of the Kingdom’s efforts to embrace a digital economy by 2023.

The mobile telecommunications operator introduced  the SmartEdu University Student Development Program (USDP) in October, primarily to nurture  young Cambodians with the right skills and competencies to become capable corporate leaders in the digital era.

“USDP is nurturing leaders for Cambodia’s flourishing ICT [Information Communications Technology] sector. The future is very bright and we are on the right track to bring Cambodia into the tech space,” Hundt said at the awards presentation ceremony for the top performers at the inaugural SmartEdu USDP program on December 1.

In October, Smart inked an agreement with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, to develop local talents for the growing digital economy.  

The company also committed $1.5 million to fund two vital programmes – the SmartEdu Scholarship Program and the SmartEdu University Student Development Program.

The Smart student leadership development  initiative comes at a critical time, as  Cambodia marches into the digital world, much faster than some of its Asean peers, but faces scarcity in human capital to support the rapidly growing digital economy.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Hundt (above) says Cambodia is on the right track to push its digital agenda. Post staff

With the advent of e-commerce, digital payment and e-government, there is a pressing demand for skilled workforce and more so when the Kingdom enters the Industry 4.0 phase, which takes digital technology to a new horizon backed by interconnectivity via Internet of Things (IoT).

According to the The Cambodian IT industry: Skills for a Digital Economy report released in January last year, 75 per cent of businesses interviewed said they were unable to hire talented IT workers.

“The most difficult roles to fill were IT project managers and team leaders where there is a small pool of talent to choose from,” said the report.

The ICT industry has enjoyed significant growth and it is estimated to be worth about $800 million, and some 30,000 IT professionals drive the sector.

The USDP is modelled to unearth best talents from universities and groom them to be future corporate leaders.

After undergoing an intensive 13 days SmartEdu USDP bootcamp in Siem Reap, three semi-finalist teams of the CEO Challenge pitched their innovative solutions at the Grand Finale and Awards Ceremony at Sofitel Hotel in Phnom Penh.

The CEO Challenge winning team was awarded $1,800, while the Best Overall Team throughout the Bootcamp received $1,200. In addition, top eight individual performers were presented with a fully-sponsored two-month work exposure at Axiata Group in Malaysia.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Dr Hang Choun Naron (third from the left) at the event. Post staff

At the event, Hunt shared some nuggets of wisdom with the young  students: “The biggest risk is not taking risk. Learning  has no boundaries, so keep learning throughout life’s journey and be the change. . .”

While addressing the event, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications secretary of state Dr Kan Channmeta, said Cambodia should start building the right talent pool and ecosystem to support the digital economy.

“We need more ICT talents. We are now talking about Industrial 4.0, AI [Artificial Intelligence], Big Data, Data Science, IoT and Machine Learning. 

“Some people are worried about losing their jobs to disruptive technologies and innovations. Thus, we must mobilise more funds to reach out to students and equip ICT competent students for the new workplace,” said Chann-meta.  

“Honestly, the USDP programme has helped me in learning about teamwork and leadership. The focus was on CEO leadership, how to do business and understand our consumers and their needs and to equip them with the right products and services. 

“USDP changed my working style, it thought me how to be humble, understand weaknesses and strength of my teammates,” said 19-year old Luy Lysieng, a third-year student majoring in Food Chemistry Engineering at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, who was one of the participants.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government set to slash holidays

    The private sector has welcomed the government’s move to reduce the number of public holidays in the in the Kingdom – known for having the most public holidays in the world – by seven days. However, the government had just added the “Day of Remembrance” on

  • Kith Theang being held in PJ prison

    Kith Theang, the brother of prominent businessman Kith Meng, was charged by Phnom Penh Municipal Court late on Monday and sent to the capital’s Police Judiciare (PJ) prison over the nearly 50kg of drugs found in a February 23 raid by authorities on the Rock

  • Farmers told not to plant next rice crop

    THE Ministry of Environment has told Cambodian rice farmers to refrain from planting crops in the midst of a drought heightened by record temperatures due to this year’s El Nino phenomenon. Temperatures are expected to peak in April and May. “Every year, [farmers usually]

  • Phay Siphan: Preah Sihanouk will become a second Singapore

    Government spokesman Phay Siphan said on Monday that Preah Sihanouk province will become a second Singapore, as authorities were warned that its development, fuelled largely by Chinese investment, was coming at a cost to locals. Siphan was speaking at a press conference after a seminar