READI in Hong Kong

Monday, November 27, 2017

READi at the Hong Kong Alumni Gala
On November 22-25, READI had the oppurtunity to attend the Hong Kong alumni events that took place in Central and Western Hong Kong. Jean Lowry, READI Project Director and Laura Wilson, READI Project Officer joined a number of University of Waterloo senior staff which included President Feridun Hamdullahpur, Vice Presidents and Deans’ from six faculties. The Hong Kong trip is an opportunity to connect with the Hong Kong Alumni chapter to facilitate students with industry along with fostering the Hong Kong alumni community. The University of Waterloo has had a strong presence within Hong Kong with the establishment of the Hong Kong Foundation in 2011.

A number of events that took place over the week included the Cyberport UWaterloo Velocity Investor Demo Day, Science Park visit, meeting with the Consul General, Jeff Nankivell. The main event was the Hong Kong Alumni Gala that took place on November 24, 2017. Close to 600 alumni, staff and friends were in attendance.

Jean and Laura attended the Cyberport Uwaterloo Velocity Investor Demo Day and the Hong Kong Alumni dinner. The Cyberport Velocity pitch competition saw 6 pitches demonstrated in front of a panel of judges. The day saw some fantastic talent coming out of Velocity and eager to work within the Asia markets. The feeling was mutual with many of the industry partners who attended the demonstrations.


The highlight of the trip was the Hong Kong Alumni Gala. The night was full of energy as alumni, staff and diplomats came together to foster and strengthen the Hong Kong alumni community. This mission is very important to READI, because it was an initiative from one of University of Waterloo’s alumni. Rodney Coelho, who was working with Manulife Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia that helped envision the READI project. Rodney and then Manulife CEO, Chris Bendl, were deeply concerned about the huge deficit of actuaries in Indonesia; so concerned that they were willing to put $1M on the table to help leverage a project concept to address the problem. Driven by industry but with UW connections, Rodney reached out to his connections

arriving at the Hong Kong Gala
at UW who eagerly came on board to help develop a multifaceted capacity building project to address the shortage of actuaries. Talent, innovation and energy were all brought to the table and UW and Manulife were able to convince the Government of Canada, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development  (now Global Affairs Canada) to support their idea with an additional $15.3M. It took a good year or so solidify the funding and another year to get the project off the ground, but Rodney was there to see it take off.  Sunlife Financial Asia, equally visionary, provided funding for a Chair to provide senior actuarial guidance, currently held by UW’s Prof Ken Seng Tan, who serves as Chief Advisor to the READI project.

The Hong Kong alumni dinner brought out many other similar stories on how the University of Waterloo alumni are making a difference on the world stage. Not only is READI accelerating Indonesia’s movement toward being a regional centre of actuarial excellence, but the project has been able to reach out to 11,000 Indonesia students who participate in READI Math Outreach program.  This has created wide-spread awareness on mathematics/actuarial science and the University of Waterloo model for best-in-class mathematics and sciences education informed by UW’s innovative model. With a target of 50,000 students, READI will continue to increase the profile of UW in Indonesia. 

Hong Kong Gala Special Guests

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