2023 BAFG Awards – Meet the Judges Interview Series #4

Hearing from Mike Summers  – Defence & Security Director, Singapore (ASEAN); Australia Trade and Investment Commission;
Australian High Commission, Singapore

What were your key takeaways after graduating from INSEAD in relation to having a positive social impact on the community?
Future-ready businesses that deliberately balance socially responsible impact with short-term financial gain can capture a competitive advantage over the long term. An integrated environmental and social value strategy is critical to today’s business decision-making. Employees, customers, and investors have evolved with more agency and engagement and increasingly expect a company’s values to align with being a force for good. In a post-pandemic world, socially responsible companies that positively impact their communities can differentiate and take advantage of new market opportunities that lead to greater market share and company profits.

What do you believe are the critical elements for a business to act as a force for good?
A company must stand for its beliefs and establish and articulate a higher corporate purpose that embodies a vision, mission, and strategy and shows its employees, customers, suppliers, and community that it can be trusted to live up to its promise to be a force for good. A company that prioritises sustainability and other important ESG issues in its communities can turn the dial on value creation and outperform the competition that only focuses on maximising profits. The days of businesses taking resources and profits without giving back to society are ending.

What actions from companies have you seen which have been a force for good?
Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor of bilateral military aid to Ukraine’s war. Australian defence companies are providing military and humanitarian assistance, including medical equipment and crucial ballistic body armour for the personal protection of Ukrainian soldiers and civilian first responders on the front lines of the conflict. Their patent body armour protects the user from artillery, grenade fragmentation, and impact from firearms, which saves lives. Australia continues to stand with the people of Ukraine and will provide additional support measures in response to Russia’s ongoing violation of international law.

What are some examples in your profession/ company where you’ve experienced BAFG first-hand?
During COVID-19, the Australian High Commission in Singapore focused on training its leaders to understand their pivotal role in fostering well-being within their teams and the ability to observe and act when their team members were struggling. Educating and empowering our leaders through proactive support programs on mental health and well-being have been key elements of a successful Well-being Strategy. Good business leaders recognise that creating a mentally healthy workplace is no longer a peripheral concern but is at the heart of any successful business strategy that connects productive employees with productive communities and a profitable business.

What were the main reasons for accepting an invitation to be an IAA Singapore BAFG judge?
It is a pleasure to be a BAFG Judge on the IAA panel that champions Singapore business leaders that inspire others to be a force for good and have taken action to solve urgent societal problems that enrich communities while creating profitability and responsibility to shareholders. I am grateful to be a part of a cohort of thought leaders who value giving their time to share their outlook for the future of social and economic responsibility.

Meeting our 2023 Judges – Interview series

Post #1 – Diana Gan – Founder of Elementary Capital

Post #2- Kaushik Burman – General Manager & Managing Director at Gogoro India Pvt Ltd)

Post #3 – Dr Vinika D. Rao – Executive Director, INSEAD Emerging Markets, Gender & Africa Initiatives; Asia Director, HGIBS

Post #4 – Mike Summers  – Defence & Security Director, Singapore (ASEAN); Australia Trade and Investment Commission; Australian High Commission, Singapore

Catch-up with 2022 Winners – Interview series

Post #1 – Michelle Woo, VP Venture Build, ENGIE Factory Asia Pacific (Corporate Winner)

Catch-up with 2022 Judges – Interview series

Post #1 – Li Lian Liew GEMBA’13 – Director, Corporate Planning at Tan Tock Seng Hospital & Central Health

Post #2 – Apo Ozkececi MCCC’19Dec-S – SVP Commercial & Regional Head, Asia Pacific, Accelya