In December 2015, I attended an international conference which was held by one of the largest international youth organization. This was a historical moment of my career despite this was my first conference I’ve ever attended as a professional and  got fully funded to attend this conference, it was the moment where more than 250 leaders from Asia Pacific region came together in one place. Experiencing 5 days in this conference was like living a small 5 days of life. Be it when I was sat down at lunch, had a casuals, attend a different session or even at sleepover party, each person I met in every session was from different part of the world. It is not easy to forget how incredible this experience because some of unique things we have are embedded in our daily activities. Despite the different political situation of the world, I’m beyond grateful to have a chance to work and to be friends with people from different countries. All of this is far beyond of just tolerance and acceptance. It is about cross-cultural understanding as well.
During this conference, we were not only attended a-boring-one-side-seminar session, we also went through a process of brainstorming and idea creation especially when the delegates from ASEAN nations came together to envision the master plan for ASEAN Economics Community that would be implemented several days after the conference ended –and it’s now already. Can you imagine a space where ideas of 250 people are treated equally, accepted and everyone has a chance to contribute during the process? I must confess that it was amazing! While at the same time I there is some questions struck me: “Did I do enough research before it started? Are our ideas grounded enough?” I stopped for a second and looked around, I was in the middle of the room with such great diversity, not only legacy or experiential diversity, but something more important: thought diversity.
Deloitte Consulting find out on their research that diversity in workplaces gives an incredible benefit such as diversity of thought. Either multinational corporations or start-up companies, seeking out talent with different thinking and problem solving backgrounds is critical. Most importantly, Diversity of thought leads to better decisions in the workplace. But unfortunately they also revealed that diversity and inclusion are consistently reported as the least important issues on leaders’ minds compared to other HR matters. With an eye for diversity, managers and HR representatives can select people who think differently while still maintaining alignment with the mission and business objectives. Tapping to international talent in order to create diversity in the workplace may seem harder than recruit locally. But reality is the opposite, by hiring international talent you are not only bringing diversity in your company but also you are hiring diversity of thought in the best talent with desired skills for your business.  
This is what everyone in SEA must pay attention for. There will be a wealth of skilled workforce that we simply can’t ignore. Instead of limiting the numbers of foreign talent in the company, we need to realize that this AEC momentum is a great start to achieve diversity of thought in order to lead the better decisions we are all desire.

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