The sun was just setting over Victoria Harbor. Cargo vessels and a Chinese junk boat passing by turned golden as the evening drew to a close. This was the view from the Hong Kong Maritime Museum in Central Hong Kong, which was holding an exhibit on “The Dragon and the Eagle: American Traders in China” – a collection of photos of the peninsula as the starting point of contact for goods and commodities exchange to mainland China.

There really could not have been a more suitable place than the museum to hold the Hinrich Foundation’s annual welcome reception, which would gather the foundation’s partners, team members and Global Trade Leaders.

The Hinrich Foundation held a yearly welcome event for its alumni, scholars, partners and university representatives. I wondered why it was necessary to gather everyone, but it became clear to me later on that the students, academe and employers were an important triad to sustain and develop the leadership talent in the international trade arena.

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Hinrich Foundation alumni, scholars and university and corporate partners get together for a stronger collaboration on sustainable trade development.

Mr. Merle Hinrich, founder of the Hinrich Foundation, welcomed everyone at the start of the event. He highlighted that while the whole world was fixated with the US-China trade conflict, it was even more essential for us to prepare for the future by developing the trade capacity of each nation through education and research. The network and knowledge created by these two pillars would enable engagement with governments and help them in formulating sustainable trade policies and strengthening foreign partnerships.

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During his speech, Hinrich Foundation Founder Merle Hinrich encourages industry players, the academia and students to prepare for the future of trade by developing every nation’s trade capacity through education and research.

To emphasize the impact of increasing trade talent capacity through education, scholars and alumni of the Hinrich Global Trade Leadership Development Program shared their experiences and career journeys. What stood out to me was what was said by Phoebe Lu, who is also the vice president of the alumni committee. She said that the program’s core values of aspiring, learning, growing and leading are “not linear but cyclical,” meaning that all these things are constant and never-ending processes. It occurred to me that the young minds that the Hinrich Foundation has nurtured over the years have established a mindset of how crucial the role of education is in one’s life and contribution to society.

Later on, Alex Boome announced that the foundation was crafting a graduate curriculum focused on trade with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and other prominent universities in Asia. This, I think, is a great move for the foundation! I have been searching for trade-specific programs all over the world, and it seems that the subject of trade has remained in hindsight of most universities when international trade is actually one of the most dynamic policy areas governments are dealing with nowadays.

After this announcement, two new scholars (including myself) were recognized for embarking on a higher level journey with the foundation. My fellow scholar was Saiful Alam Saiket from Bangladesh, who was awarded a scholarship for a master’s degree in manufacturing system engineering and management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He was congratulated by Textile Global Sourcing Director Jean Marie Fouque of Hinrich Foundation partner Carrefour, who said in his speech how excited their team was to have Saiful onboard. Kudos to Saiful for having a fresh start on his birthday!

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L-R: Carrefour Textile Global Sourcing Director Jean Marie Fouque, Hinrich Foundation scholar Saiful Alam Saiket, Hinrich Foundation Founder Merle Hinrich and Hinrich Foundation Alumni Leadership Committee President Mohammad Nurun Nobi during the presentation of scholarship certificates.

As applause faded into the background, I thought about the certificate I held in my hands. In that piece of paper, the words “Hinrich Global Trade Leader Scholar” were written above my name. Having this certificate, I realized, was more than about being part of a welcome reception – it was about being part of trade on a higher scale, in an international level, and how ready I was to face this challenge.


About the author – Froland Tajale

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Froland Tajale is a scholar from the Philippines under the Hinrich Foundation Global Trade Leadership Development Program. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in entrepreneurship and global marketing at Grenoble Ecole de Management and Hong Kong Baptist University. He is an advocate for open foreign policy and aspires to do intensive trade research and develop effective and efficient outward policies that will help unite economies.