2022 ASEAN’s Emerging Female Trade Leaders Program
The Asia Society Policy Institute's (ASPI) Building Trade Ties with ASEAN’s Emerging Female Leaders program offers the opportunity for female professionals from ASEAN with interest and experience in international trade to participate in an intensive professional development program. The program focuses on developing skills and competencies for trade negotiations and working in the trade field more broadly. It seeks to deepen understanding of trade negotiations and policymaking while providing mentorship and guidance for women’s empowerment in the workplace.
Building on the successes of previous programs with Korean and Japanese women, and with the generous support of the Silverado Policy Accelerator, ASPI launched its inaugural program with ASEAN women in September 2022. This included an intensive 10-day long program in the United States featuring meetings and conversations with various inspiring current and former U.S. officials, trade experts, and female leaders in finance, the media, and tech sectors in Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco/Silicon Valley.
Overall, the program was a tremendous success as expressed in the words of the participants:
“Incredible program, which was interactive, substantive, and insightful. I learned tremendously from Wendy Cutler, the illustrious speakers, and my fellow ASEAN program participants on trade policy and women in the empowerment in the workplace and have built new and deeper connections!”
“This program brought together an amazing delegation that brought the diversity of their experiences to the conversations, asking really smart questions and providing rich perspectives. As a private sector participant, this was an invaluable opportunity to better understand the dynamics at play behind the scenes in trade negotiations and policymaking and to be even more constructive and collaborative in public-private engagement.”
“Overall, I learned a lot from this program and was able to grow my network. The trade sessions were excellent and sessions with female executives were insightful. Thank you very much for allowing me to be a part of this initiative.”
ASPI was pleased to host thirteen women from eight ASEAN member countries:
- Maes Alconcel, National Project Coordinator, International Trade Centre (ITC)
- Fatimah Alsagoff, Director of Government Affairs and Corporate Communications for Asia Pacific, Hasbro
- Putpisey Cheam, Chief of the Bilateral Bureau of the Asia and Pacific Department, Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia
- Theodora D’Cruz, First Secretary, Economic, Embassy of Singapore in Washington D.C.
- Lusyana Halmiati, Coordinator for European Affairs at the Directorate of Bilateral Negotiations, Ministry of Trade of Indonesia
- Souvipha Inthavong, Deputy Director of the Multilateral Trade Division, Department of Foreign Trade Policy, Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Laos
- Melissa Lee, Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia and Oceania Division, Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore
- Auji Nabilah Abdul Razak, Senior Assistant Director, Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia
- Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit, Head and Assistant Professor, Centre for Multilateralism Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
- Tongta Sudmi, Senior Investment Promotion Officer, International Affairs Division, Board of Investment of Thailand
- Marcella Suwandhi, Manager, U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, Indonesia
- Mai Anh Thi Le, Head of Division for Southeast Asia and South Asia Regional Cooperation, Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam
- Quynh Thuy Vu, Deputy Director, International Relations Department of Vietrade, Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam
Washington, D.C. (September 26 – September 29)
For the first leg of the program, the Emerging Female Leaders traveled to Washington, D.C. from Southeast Asia to participate in sessions with former and current officials in the U.S. government and trade experts in the private sector. During these meetings, the group deepened their understanding of international trade negotiations, bilateral trade relations between the U.S. and ASEAN, and the trade policy process in the United States. Furthermore, participants were able to gain a deeper understanding of the roles of Congress and stakeholders in the development of U.S. trade policy.
In Washington, D.C., participants joined a training workshop on Negotiations 101 with ASPI Vice President and former Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler and met with senior, female trade experts in government. These experts included the following: Melissa Brown, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, who discussed the foreign policy and trade nexus and the important role the State Department in particular plays in the formulation of trade policy; Dawn Shackleford, Executive Director, Office of Trade Agreements, Policy and Negotiations, International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce, who shared views on the state of U.S.-ASEAN trade relations, including at the multilateral level at the World Trade Organization (WTO); and Pamela Phan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia, International Trade Administration, at the U.S. Department of Commerce, who highlighted key U.S.-ASEAN regional and bilateral trade initiatives that are being implemented, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), and Commerce’s role in facilitating investment in the region.
Participants also had the opportunity to meet with current and former officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR) including Amy Kreps, Director for Environment and Natural Resources at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), who discussed USTR’s role in monitoring and enforcing environmental trade commitments, as well as negotiating new agreements. The group also met with a number of former USTR officials now senior leaders in the private sector including, Elissa Alben, Vice President and Head of Global Trade Policy and International Government Relations at Pfizer, and Hun Quach, Head of Global Government Relations at Levi Strauss & Co., who spoke about the role of Congress in U.S. trade policy and the importance of understanding concerns of businesses and civil society groups. Furthermore, Behnaz Kibria, Senior Policy Counsel at Google, and Catherine Novelli, Senior Advisor at Shearwater Global and Former Vice President of World Wide Government Affairs at Apple, shared their experiences of pivoting careers into tech policy and touched on key challenges facing technology companies, including data privacy, cloud computing policy, and increased regulation. Dorothy Dwoskin, former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs also spoke about the key differences between multilateral and bilateral negotiations, as well as fundamental challenges currently facing the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Other private sector and think tank experts spoke to the group as well including, Tami Overby, Former Vice President for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Lisa Schroeter, Global Director, Trade and Investment Policy at Dow Chemical Company provided insights on working with private sector stakeholders and trade associations when formulating trade policy and the importance of developing trusted relationships with stakeholders. Elina Noor, ASPI Political-Security Affairs Director, joined a working lunch with the delegation to discuss the important role that think tanks play in policy formation in the foreign policy and trade space.
ASPI partnered with the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council to hold a networking reception with the trade and foreign policy community in D.C., which included remarks by Ambassador Ted Osius and Wendy Cutler, among others.
New York City (September 29 – October 2)
Following Washington, D.C., the group traveled to New York, where they met with prominent women in finance, media, and the United Nations. During these sessions, the group shared experiences with executive-level women and learned strategies for advancing in the workplace and overcoming challenges.
From the private sector, the group met with female Citi Executives for a working breakfast and joined a lunch hosted by a group of senior Blackstone Group executives, where the women shared their personal advice on moving up in the workplace in male-dominated fields, including how to ensure that their voices are heard among their male peers, how to develop a professional network, viewing diversity as an asset, being comfortable with taking risks, and balancing work/life demands. Participants also met with Dr. Jemimah Njuki, Chief of Economic Empowerment at UN Women, where they learned about what this organization is doing to help close the economic gender gap globally, as well as in Asia specifically. The group also met with award-winning Chief China Correspondent from the Wall Street Journal, Lingling Wei, who shared her experience of reporting on China as well as her thoughts on the 20th Party Congress, U.S.-China economic competition, and economic challenges facing China.
San Francisco / Silicon Valley (October 2 – 5)
After spending the weekend in New York, the group flew to San Francisco for the final leg of the trip. With the support of Asia Society Northern California (ASNC) Executive Director Margaret Conley and her staff, the group had meetings with female tech and finance executives and the Mayor’s Office of San Francisco.
Ann Lavin, Uber Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations, shared her years of experience working in trade and tech policy for a number of companies and associations. Susan Zetzer, KPMG US Managing Director of Advisory & Tax Services, shared views on the transformation of the banking and the global payments industry, as well as the importance of regulation and compliance in mitigating risk. During these sessions, participants were also able to discuss their professional experiences moving up in industries that are traditionally male-dominated. Manish Goyal, Business Development Manager at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, provided participants with a better understanding of the role of city and state governments in attracting foreign direct investment and developing commercial relationships with the global community.
The group also visited Google’s campus in Mountainview, where the cohort took a tour and met with members of the trade policy team including James Green, former Minister Counselor for Trade Affairs at USTR and now Google’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Kareem Ghanem, Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Louise Bohmann, Director of Risk and Compliance, and Nicole Azores, Manager of Government Affairs and Public Policy. In this session, participants learned about Google’s various hardware and consumer products, as well as key areas of focus for its policy teams including digital inclusiveness, regulatory and competition policy, privacy, and security, and supply chains.
The group also joined an engaging executive roundtable and networking event hosted by Asia Society Northern California (ASNC) on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). The roundtable featured welcoming remarks by Margaret Conley, ASNC Executive Director, and a briefing by Wendy Cutler, ASPI Vice President. Cutler provided a comprehensive overview of IPEF and its four pillars of work — trade, supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy, and highlighted the opportunities and challenges of implementing the framework with partners in the region.
This project is made possible by a grant from the Silverado Policy Accelerator.