Earlier this month I was fortunate to attend the ASEAN – Australia Young Entrepreneurs Business Forum which was held in Melbourne. Representatives from the ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Council attended the forum. Each of these young entrepreneurs provided meaningful insights in what is required to be successful in their individual countries.

The keynote address was given by Ms. Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz. Tan Sri was a member of the Malaysian Parliament from 1986 to 2013. She was the Minister of International Trade and Industry from 1987 to 2008. After retiring from parliamentary life she has been Non-Executive Independent Chairman and Director of AirAsia X since 2011. Clearly Tan Sri is a very experienced international business woman.

Tan Sri gave an inspirational and thought provoking address to the group. She shared her views on the challenges of doing business between countries with the differences in culture and business practices. Most importantly Tan Sri challenged the young audience to think laterally about how they do business in the ASEAN region.

Here are some of the wise words that Tan Sri shared with the audience.

“Diversity across ASEAN is a source of strength that is complementary and can be shared”

 “It does not make any difference as to what country you are from we are all part of ASEAN”

 “Businesses operating in ASEAN need to hold each other’s hands and facilitate success”

 “You must take advantage of the free trade agreements”

 “Key factors to understand in each ASEAN country are local business practices, social trends and the political environment”

 “Every business’s goal is to create money even if it is a non for profit organisation”

 “Key success factors for your business should be caring for your people, financial performance and the future of the planet”

Very sound words of advice for all generations of business people operating in ASEAN and Asia.