Leadership structure & Bangkok Retreat 2016

SEALNet itself is a phenomenon: a 10-year-old nonprofit organization sustained throughout the years not by a clear organization system or a well-founded management structure, but by the international and service leadership spirits of Southeast Asian youths (plus people interested in the region) scattered across the globe.  Undoubtedly, “People” has always been SEALNet’s most invaluable asset. Therefore, as its human capital rarely stayed stayed put over the years – whether geographically or in phases of life – SEALNet faces a constant need to transform itself to adapt to new shifts of human resources.

This year, some important conversations were tossed around to recognize the increased concentration of active SEALNutters in Southeast Asian countries, as well as to re-shape the organization of SEALNet on both US and Southeast Asian (SEA) side.

Discussion on SEALNet leadership structure

In mid-September, two online calls were arranged by SEALNutters on both US & SEA side to discuss and pose hard questions about SEALNet leadership structure. We were fortunate to have representatives from multiple SEALNet generations join this important conversation, from founding members (Leng, Kevin Teo, KB Teo) to younger ones (members from MIT chapter, YLS team, Board of Directors-BOD).

After two long, yet productive calls, where traditional positions in SEALNet were challenged and new models of organization were proposed, some important agreements on the future have been reached:

  • Everyone agreed that a setup with minimized bureaucracy would work best for SEALNet in the near future. We welcome a start-up, action-oriented mindset, where people who own their ideas and are willing to step up with their initiatives are encouraged and will be granted with significant decision-making power.
  • Inter-generational mentorship/friendship is an important and non-negotiable feature of SEALNet. To quote Leng on this point: “An age and inter generational difference, along with race culture nationality and class differences , all add to how we grow as a community and allow us all to work across lines” (Leng’s email on 09/25/16). This raises the need for more alumni engagement initiatives to sustain such cross-culture, cross-generation connection.
  • US and SEA side opted for more independence in their operations, meaning each would decide their own leadership structure. Right now the US side is sustained by the presence of SEALNet MIT chapter, plus support from co-presidents and BOD, while on the SEA side, the YLS team, led by Kin, Kah Wei and guided by Kevin Teo, take a more active lead. Despite potential organizational differences, everyone promised to make sure that they would keep in touch and collaborate closely with each other to navigate the wide SEALNet network, as well as connect resources from both sides to keep SEALNet active throughout the year.

SEALNet-SEA Bangkok Retreat

Moving on from the big talk in Septembers, active SEALNutters currently based in SEA got together in a 3-day retreat from 2nd to 5th December in Bangkok to focus on strategizing SEALNet activities in SEA as well as YLS17 direction.

After thought-provoking discussion and heart-to-heart conversations about SEALNet model, values and vision, the retreat wrapped up with the following key conclusions:

  • SEALNet vision revising: To build and nurture a community of lifelong service leaders committed to Southeast Asia. 
  • SEALNet core values: Growth, Service-minded, Nurture/Family, Authenticity
  • YLS Direction: YLS’s defined goal is to incubate executable projects. The focus is to empower SEA youth to run their own projects.
  • Upcoming initiatives on the SEA side:
    • Alumni engagement: an online platform to connect SEALNet alum; Newsletter (which you are reading :D)
    • Knowledge management: a storage of documents, reflections, skill-sharing related to running SEALNet projects
    • Mentor training: for upcoming mentors of PLs in 2017 project cycle
    • Retreat Leadership: retreat for PLs of 2017 projects and SEALNet club leaders in Southeast Asia

Hi from Bangkok retreat team <3 (*)



What’s next in 2017?

Retreat Leadership: in Cambodia, January 13th to 16th

YLS17: potentially in Bangkok, late July-early August

Project Myanmar 2017: Women Empowerment

Project Myanmar 2017: Encouraging Individuality

Project Cambodia 2017: Clean Water and Nutrition for Rural Children

More to be updated in upcoming newsletters, so stay tuned 😉


Image credit: (*)Kevin Teo