Ambassador Hachigian Remarks at Women Who Lead Panel Discussion

2016 U.S.-ASEAN Women's Leadership Academy for YSEALI

@america, Jakarta
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Good afternoon. Selamat sore.

It is my pleasure to be at @america today with all of you for this “Women Who Lead” panel discussion.  I have really been looking forward to this event because we have such a great group of leaders joining us tonight and such a great audience too.

Over the last two decades, a strong body of research has emerged and its findings are very clear: when women thrive, organizations thrive and nations thrive.

When girls and women are educated and barriers to their best futures fall, companies are more profitable, communities prosper, governments make better choices and economies grow.  Countries where women are closer to enjoying equal rights are more economically competitive.   Countries that repeal laws that discriminate against women, and pass laws that promise equality see an increase in women joining the workforce and see a boost in economic growth.  Companies with more women in senior management are proven to be more profitable.  As Beyonce sings, “My persuasion can build a nation.”

And although in my life time, there have been awesome advances for women including the fact that a woman is a major candidate for U.S. president for the first time, ever, there is still work to done so that every girl and every women can live up to her full potential.  That is why two of my top priorities as the U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN are to cultivate young leaders and promote opportunities for women.

Today’s event does both.  In the audience today are 40 young women attending the U.S. – ASEAN Women’s Leadership Academy for YSEALI.  That POTUS announced in Laos last month.  The group includes representatives from all ten ASEAN member states and were selected to participate in an interactive workshop to build leadership skills.

For any of you in the audience or online who might not be familiar with YSEALI, it stands for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative and is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.  Through a variety of programs, including trips to the U.S., regional workshops, and small grants, YSEALI builds leadership capabilities of young people, strengthens ties with the United States, and fosters an ASEAN community.

YSEALI will be three years old this December, with almost 100,000 self-selected members from all ten ASEAN countries.  If you’re not yet a member, it’s easy: just go to the website ( and subscribe!  YSEALI is open to all residents of ASEAN who are between the ages of 18-35, and you can sign up right here at @america after this program.

Today’s panel represents a very impressive group of leaders.  They have lots of experience and I am confident their advice will be useful to you.  We also want to hear from you, so after we talk for a bit, we will open the floor for comments and questions.  The goal of this panel not to be a self-contained event, but rather to fuel conversations on how to increase women’s participation in leadership roles.  I hope that all of you are thinking about and focused on your own potential roles as future women leaders or how you can support women leaders.

If you want to tweet or blog or post, you can use the hashtag #ysealiwomen.

Now, I’d like to introduce our impressive group of panelists and invite them to join me on the stage.

Deborah Magid is the Director of Software Strategy at IBM Venture Capital Group.  Deborah is a frequent spokes-person on topics of relevance to entrepreneurs and investors.  She is Chair of the Board of SVForum, the Silicon Valley emerging technology network; and on the Steering Committee of the California Sustainability Alliance.  Previously, Deborah held positions in product management, marketing, and user-centered design at Taligent, GE Information Services and AT&T.  Deborah holds degrees in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Connecticut.  Welcome Deborah.

Catharina Widjaja has been the Director of the Gajah Tunggal group since 2004.  Prior to that, Cath worked for various multinational companies including HSBC Indonesia and Deutsche Bank AG in Jakarta.  She received a Master of Science in Control Engineering from the University of Bradford and graduated in Mathematics and computer science from Sheffield Polytechnic, and Leeds Polytechnic in the UK.  Cath is also the Managing Director of Alun Alun Indonesia, an Indonesian retail concept which promotes Indonesian products and artisans.  She is also active in HIV/AIDS prevention, and was instrumental in setting up the Indonesia Business Coalition on AIDS as well as the Indonesia Business Coalition on Women Empowerment.

Ariavita Purnamasari, is the corporate communication leader of General Electric, or GE, in Indonesia.  Vita also leads GE digital communications activities for ASEAN, and the GE Women Network for Indonesia.  She has sixteen years of experience in Corporate Communications and Advertising in various sectors, such as technology, multilateral organization, management consulting and hospitality sectors.  She’s a mother of two and an avid Crossfitter who has competed in several competitions across the region.  Vita holds a Master of Business Administration from Monash University in Australia, and a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Pennsylvania State University in the U.S.

Noviar Andayani leads the Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia Program as the country director.  She completed her PhD in Conservation Biology at University of Indonesia, where she also served as a lecturer for the past twenty years.  She was the head of graduate program in conservation biology at the same university when she joined Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia Program.  Outside these two institutions, Yani also chairs the Indonesian Primatological Association and was one of the key contributors to the national strategy for orangutan conservation.  Welcome Yani.

Colleagues, welcome. Let’s jump right in. For each question, I’ll start with one panelist, but I hope everyone will join the discussion.

  1. For the first question, I’ll start with Deborah. What is one skill or characteristic that you think is essential to being a good leader?
  1. For this question, I’ll start with Cath. If you could give your 25 years old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
  1. Yani, what do you think is the most significant barrier for women leaders?
  1. Vita, can you name a person who has had a significant impact on you as a leader?
  1. Deborah, what was the best decision you made that moved your career forward?
  1. Cath, how do you balance work and life priorities to be successful? Is this especially difficult for women?
  1. Vita, what is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
  1. For all our panelists, what are tips you would share to help women build strong presentation or public speaking skills?

Thank you all.  It has been a wonderful discussion, and I think we could probably talk for a few more hours!

Now, I’d like to turn to the audience and open up the floor to questions.  If you raise your hand, @america staff will bring you a microphone.  I think we have time for about a few questions and then we will have a chance to mingle informally.

Thank you all!  I hope everyone joins us in the lobby for the social event.  But first, we have to take a few pictures.