From the First Lady of Malaysia to Flat Stanley

I was sent off to Asia with two simple tasks. One was professional and the second was personal. On the professional front I visited our operations in Japan and met with CSR colleagues from other companies, the education ministry and an NGO of Intel International Science and Engineering Fair alums that support science fairs across Japan. I then went to Malaysia where I attended the Asian Forum for CSR and gave a keynote address. The Asian Institute of Management has done a terrific job of assembling thought leaders, practitioners and NGOs together each year to discuss CSR. This year there were 342 participants from 27 countries representing 245 organizations.

At the conference there was a lot of discussion on the business value of CSR and a lively debate on philanthropy vs. market solutions. I kicked-off the forum sharing my thoughts on the demands and opportunities that are created by the global marketplace. The quick summary is the world is flat; global challenges will have to be met to achieve maximum economic growth; strategic philanthropy is required; scalable solutions can only be achieved through collaboration; and we can achieve more and create truly sustainable solutions by unleashing the full capability of corporations through market solutions.

Flat Stanley in Japan.JPGI was honored to have dinner with Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Prime Minster of Malaysia and an accomplished person on her own right. She gave an impassioned speech on the impact responsible companies can have on the global community and their own bottom-line. She also stayed late into the evening helping recognize companies in Asia that are doing it right.

On the personal front I was asked to help my ten year old niece, Lauren, with a school project. She created a doll made of poster board, called Flat Stanley, and I was tasked with taking photos of him as I traveled on my trip. My niece will then take the pictures and tell her class about the travels of Flat Stanley. When I discussed the pictures I took with my niece on Sunday, she said something that was very poignant. “I always thought the world was so big, but it really is so small.” It then dawned on me, just as Thomas Friedman suggested, the world is becoming more flat. Just like Stanley.