Brenda Reimers, photographer of senses

A balinese artist living in the Netherlands, Brenda Reimers was presenting her creations at the Singapore Art Fair from 9th to 11th October. Photograph of the senses, she has created for her model a set of natural jewels and vegetal hats, whose ingredients are an evocation of each country's culinary tradition.

Portraits splashed with light on a black back stage, Brenda Reimers' pictures are like a joyful invitation to travel. From Argentina, to China, via Belgium and Denmark, we delight ourselves from this chef-stylist-photograph's facetious creations, whose inspiration we admire as much as her technical mastering.

► See the whole "culinary jewels" photo gallery:


Malaysia: a US$444 billion Investment plan over 10 years

Malaysia unveiled an ambitious investment plan to develop it's infrastructure and become a first rank economic actor in 2020. The plan has been estimated to US$ 440 billion by the Think tank set by the Government. The total investment should be principally born by the private sector; a perspective that leave some analysts skepticals about the actual implementation of the plan.

The ambition is huge: Malaysia intends to double it's income per capita over a period of 10 years (from $6700 currently to $15000 in 2020) and be at this date in a position to join the selective club of developped countries.

the program lists 133 projects amongst which 7 would be ready for an immediate implementation. It encovers multiple sectors: from oil & gas, palm oil, agriculture and tourism to financial services, education and urban infrastructure. 

One of the icon project foresees the construction of a high speed train to link Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, to Singapore. The town would be embellished, it's rivers would be cleaned and a shopping city centre would be developped in order to attract the clientele chic of the region.

60% of the project's financing would be covered by private investors, 32% by public companies and 8% by the public sector.

Source: Reuters



Asia has 1 coach for 900.000 inhabitants

Coaches from the Asia Pacific region were holding their first regional conference early in September, in Singapore. A meeting for professionals to exchange on their practices and to assess their number: Asia, which accounts for 60% of the world population, would have no more than 10% of the coaches on the globe; an opportunity for a fast growing profession. On the contrary, Australia enjoys a amazing ratio of 1 coach for 7500 inhabitants, by far the most impressive in the world.


In the pre-conference workshops of the ASIA PACIFIC COACHING CONFERENCE 2010, Franck Bresser presented the results of a global coaching survey led in 2009. In Asia the situation is very contrasted : a professionally matured activity in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, coaching is still an emerging practice elsewhere, including in India and China, Hong Kong & Shanghai excepted.

Although the survey did not manage to single out any distinctive style for coaching in Asia, not least because most clients are multinational companies and main actors are international coaching firms, it acknowledged a great diversity of approaches from one country to the other.

In Japan, coaching is very business oriented. the coaching "market" is split between professional coaches and managers who get train in coaching as an addition to their management and leadership skills.

In Malaysia, coaching has to be rooted in the culture and values of the country.

In Singapore, the coaching is very much results oriented; which implies that a great attention is given to ways of measuring individual progress. The survey also highlights how what is considered a generally accepted concept, such as "executive coaching", may be misinterpreted in countries like Singapore or Malaysia where the term "executive" rather designates a lower manager, just slighty higher than a controller..

The Asian University for Women, in Chittagong

Opened in March 2008, the Asian University for women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, is a remarkable international initiative providing women across Asia, mostly from underserved communities, with a high level learning opportunity. The University currently has more than 400 students, recruited in 13 Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, USA, and Vietnam.


The creation of the Asian University for Women (AUW) is a result of the task force on higher education and society convened by the World Bank and UNESCO in 2000, and is based "on the firm belief that education - especially higher education- provides a critical pathway to leadership development as well as more broadly in achieving sustainable development, economic progress, and social and political equity".

The University offers an undergraduate program and 2 graduate programs: the School of Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Development and the School for Entrepreneurship and Management Preparation. All students are recruited on merit and selected for their academic aptitude, leadership potential, and dedication to community service. 75% of them come from geographically or socially disadvantaged background. A majority receive a financial aid to cover the 10.000$ tuition fees.

In addition, the University offers an access academy. Restricted to students who are the first in their family to get a University education, this pre-collegiate program is designed to ensure that students from underserved communities will be on equal academic footing as their peers from more privileged backgrounds.

During their studies at the UAW, students are required to complete 3 internships, one within a company, another with a non-profit organization, and another with an entrepreneur.

The target is for the University to reach a student body of approximately 3000 women at capacity. now online

Originally launched on July,the 14th had rapidly disapeared because of problems attributed to it's servers. The situation had brought a flow of criticism, spurred  by the amazing financial ressources that had been invested. The page is now turned with this new website, online since August, the 15th: simple to use, colorful and with an abondance of resources, aims to be the reference website for all public ressources and services on the internet. "aims to promote the image, values and specific characteristics of france around the world". the portal is available in 5 languages. It provides visitors with an in depth presentation of France - History, economy, institutions -, of it's cultural patrimoine and places of interest, and of all practical aspects: living, studying, working, investing...

► see the website

Best MBA's in Asia Pacific

In the last MBA ranking established by the Financial Times, most of the best ranks are unsurprisingly being trusted by American and British institutions; the London Business School leading ahead of Wharton, Harvard, Stanford and the french-Singaporean Insead. Institutions from the Asia Pacific area are progressing: 9 are amongst the 100 top MBA.

 Rank  Institution  Pays
Ranking of MBA's from the Asia Pacific region
 5  Insead  France - Singapore
 9  Hong Kong UST Business School  China
 12  Indian School of Business  India
 22  Ceibs  China
 27  Nanyang Business School  Singapore
 28  Chinese University of Hong Kong  China
 36  Australian School of Business  Australia
 63  Melbourne Business School  Australia
 99  Macquarie Graduate School of Management  Australia

Amongst those institutions, 4 have decided to lointly promote the visibility and reputation of their MBA's in the United States, Canada and Europe: the Hong Kong UST Business School, the Indian school of Business in Hyderabad, the China Europe International Business School of Shanghai and the Nanyang University of Singapore.

Outsourcing: China takes the lead over India

According to a recent study by KPMG, China would have replaced India as the first destination of outsourcing and shared services for companies in Asia pacific. Singapore would be second.

Although the survey was restricted to asian companies, the trend is clearly: China is the number 1 choice for Asian companies to outsource services.

42% of respondents say their company has set up one of their shared services center in China and 41% say they have an outsourcing provider There.

Singapore is quoted as second preferred outsourcing location (29%), ahead of India (25%).

The survey shows low labor costs are one major reason for companies to outsource or organize a shared services center in China. But other reasons are also emphasized such as supply of skilled talent, language skills and infrastructure. Such arguments haven't so far convinced western companies as well, but the situation could evolve on the midium term.


China imports more and still exports a lot

Despite recent warnings, the chinese economy confirmed it's trade growth with a once again impressive figure in June. Imports show a sharp growth curb, sending a rare optimistic message for the world economy, but exports remain also -very - high. 

Chinese exports reached a two years peak in June. China maintain on a fast growth track. The growth rate, compared with same month the previous year, although slightly lower than in june, displays a commanding 43,9%.

The trade balance nevertheless declined as a consequence of the level of imports, whose growth in the last 12 months outpaced exports'.

As for the future, specialists remain cautious. They anticipate the consequences of the rise of the Yuan (although a mere rise of 6,78 to 6,83 Yuan for 1 US dollar) as well as of the crisis in the Euro zone.

European Union remains the first trade partner of China, ahead of the United States and japan. Trade with South East Asian countries recorded a sharp increase (+ 54,7% in June). Trade with Brazil also grew impressively (+60,3%).

Thailand teachers short of skills

In a move to develop it's teachers' skills, the Thailand Ministry of Education had the idea to have teachers in secondary school take the same test they are supposed to prepare their students to. The results are catastrophic: up to 88% of teachers specialized in computer science failed the test, 86% in Biology, 84% in Mathematics, 71% in Physics, 64% in Chemistry and 63% in Astronomy and Earth sciences.

At junior high level, the results are, fortunately, significatively better, with 58% of teachers in mathematics getting marks of more than 80%.

The situation shows how badly thailand needs to enhance the level of it's educators. The Government has set a budget of 1.4 billion Baht for that purpose. But that budget might well be insufficient to meet the challenge.


Portrait: Nicolas Ribeyron, Regional HR Manager Imerys - Pigments for Paper Asia Pacific

Nicolas Ribeyron is Regional HR Manager of Imerys-pigments for Paper Asia Pacific. He tells us about his challenges and projects within Imerys. This is the portrait of an HR Manager with a strong social ambition and the willingness to promote bold projects to stimulate the engagement of all employees.

Can you tell us about Imerys activities ?

Imerys is the result of the absorption, in 1999, of English China Clay by Imétal. The group has since specialized in industrial minerals and encompasses extracting, transforming and commercializing minerals such as kaolin (incorporated in paper and ceramic), clay, calcium carbonate, graphite….

The Calcium Carbonate, in particular, extracted from marble, is incorporated in a variety of products such as paper, plastic, paint, glue or diapers.

What are the main fields of expertise within the Group?

The group activities are well summarized in the motto « transform to perform ». Imerys looks after all operations of extraction, treatment and packaging to provide ready to use products to its customers (mainly industrials).

Its key fields of expertise cover: extraction (geologists and mine engineers for the optimization of open mines), manufacturing, supply chain (critical given the volumes processed) and marketing (to add value to the customer’s product chain).

How important is the pigments for paper Asia pacific division?

Within the pigments for paper Branch, we are employing slightly more than 520 employees and 300 contractors in Asia Pacific. Our organization is made of multiple small entities in Australia, China, India, Indonesia (JV), Japan, Malaysia, Singapore Taiwan and Vietnam.

Asia is, along with Brazil, the region with the fastest growth. China, for example, is one of the largest printing and writing paper exporters in the world.So yes, the Asia Pacific Division is very strategic to our business.

What has driven you to this position?

I joined Imerys 5 years ago, in charge of recruitment and after 6 months as a Personnel Manager in charge of several Business Units. Since 2007, I have got the opportunity to look after the HR of various teams in Asia: to conduct multiple recruitments in China, India and Thailand and to participate in a very interesting due diligence process in India.

As soon as I started with Imerys, I made no secret of my desire to go on expatriation and live in Asia. When the opportunity eventually arose end of 2008, I didn’t hesitate.

Where does this project to live abroad stem from?

Prior to Imerys, I worked with Schlumberger and Tiscali. With Schlumberger, I had the chance to start my career through a trainee program in New York, where I was in charge of promoting the activities of SEED: a foundation connecting schools to Internet in developing countries.

This first experience was extremely interesting. The project itself was very exciting: aside from classical HR aspects, I was in charge of coordinating more than a thousand volunteers in 30 countries and I contributed to the website’s content.  Living in New York was also a great privilege. When we came back to France in 2003, my wife and I already had the project to further experience an expatriation, but in Asia.

How did you manage to adapt to your new work environment in Singapore?

Very simply. The region is full of cross cultural challenges: in each country of the region, within my own HR team, with the management. It proves to be a daily source of enrichment, full of great challenges to deal with.

How would you describe the main challenges you face, as HR Manager in Asia Pacific?

There are three key areas which definitely represent essential stakes for the Pigments for Paper Asia Pacific Division: safety, develop cross functional teamwork and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Safety is, in our field of activity, a fundamental preoccupation: guaranteeing the security for all our employees and contractors working in our mines and factories. We have been successful recently (0 day lost in 2009 due to industrial injury), but security remains a daily challenge. We are now focusing not only on preventing accidents but on identifying whatever sources of risks; which happens not to be an easy culture to implement.

The goal is to induce actual changes of safety related behavior. We organize regular behavior based safety visits. The observation noticed during the visits are feeding action plans to improve our working conditions and industrial processes.

Teamwork. As Imerys is formed from a series of mergers & acquisitions, the group is characterized by a strong tradition of decentralization. This situation is altogether an asset (as regard to the autonomy of our teams and managers) and a challenge when people are supposed to work together and make the extra move beyond local boundaries. - How do we manage to do so? - Through an array of initiatives in various fields:  the development of cross functional projects mobilizing teams from different countries or business line; mobility, by promoting opportunities for people to move from one country to the other within the region; financial incentives, which have been aligned to  reward cross team cooperation; and communication, with the creation of a regional newsletter.

Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR is a core component of Imerys way of making business. We translate this ambition in the region through the implementation of simple initiatives that are opportunities to federate our employees: internal sustainable development challenge for the best projects to improve work conditions, protect the environment, partnerships with universities and schools; greetings cards to support schools in China, Vietnam and Singapore.







"Drawing from Vu Thi Thu  - Age 13, Mongson Secondary School (Vietnam) used for the 2010 Greeting Card"


This year, for example, we have organized a regionwide "Minerals day", where we open our mines and factories to the public and to our employees' families. In Singapore, where presenting our offices would not present any specific interest, we chose to invite them to come to the Genesis school - that we are currently supporting - to make paper with the pupils. This event, besides financial support, was an opportunity for our employees and the media to discover the unique educative project of this school which provides children with special needs an opportunity to follow an academic cursus and, whenever possible, to bridge the gap with the general education system.



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