Meet our alumna: Palki Ahmad (MPA 2019)

16 Jul 2019

Palki speaking at the ASLC 2019

Palki Ahmad (MPA 2019) was one of the invited speakers at Asia Student Leadership Conference (ASLC). The External Relations and Marketing Team from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy caught up with her to do a Q&A to learn more.

What is the conference about?

Asia Student Leadership Conference (ASLC) is an annual event organised by Smile Asia, which has gained much success since it was first launched in 2012. The Student Chapter is led by a core group of dedicated and passionate students from different schools that form the National Executive Committee (EXCO). These students overlook and provide support for events organised by individual student chapters and large-scale events involving all the student chapters, advancing the student programme. Student leaders from 20 different countries converge in Singapore over a weekend to join hands with their counterparts to build awareness and learn about core values of commitment, leadership and volunteerism. This year’s ASLC was attended by some 60 participants, including over 30 students from 20 participating countries and they will have the opportunity to learn from guest speakers and from one another.

In its eighth instalment this year, ASLC 2019 is themed Ex Anima – From the Heart.

Anima comes from Latin word animus which means “rational soul, life, or intelligence” from a root that means "to blow" or "to breathe." In alignment with the theme, Smile Asia hopes to foster a culture of servitude in young future leaders to be pioneers in volunteerism from within their hearts and their soul. By doing so, they will “breathe” life not only onto the people they touch but also to those around them.

What motivated you or what caught your eye during conference?


The energy, dedication and fresh perspectives of the student leaders were infectious and inspiring. The willingness to learn and experience new ideas, commitment to take a global approach to address global problems through youth leadership is rising. Some international and local student leaders shared their stories on the success and ongoing challenges of their projects, as listeners you could feel the passion in their voices. They are ready to be the brightest change makers!

What key points did you share with the conference attendees?

Palki at Asia Student Leadership Conference

1. Youth leaders are not leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today. Youth leaders are our partners in social development, innovation and progress. Revolutionary ideas that stems out of curious minds to change the world is a phenomenon to look forward to for the next generations. Youth leadership is all about collaboration and co-creation! From one candle you can light many more candles. Similarly the empowerment of one youth leader can be the bridge to many more youth leaders, continuing the movement for social progress.

2. There is a delicate balance between some of the most important components of leadership: Listening, Passion, Courage and Teamwork. It is the interplay of these aspects that can foster the culture of true leadership for a genuine impact. The art of listening to your communities/people/friends/public by displaying empathy is essential. The burning passion to move forward with an idea, the virtue of courage and stepping out of the comfort zone, and lastly, cultivating the strength of teamwork and collaboration are all integrated that adds value and enriches the learning experience of leading from the heart.

3. I’ve also shared stories of youth leadership from Bangladesh. Recent road and safety peaceful protest by student leaders in Bangladesh demonstrates the passionate and dedicated capabilities of youth. Further, different youth leadership campaigns/projects/activities have been beacon of hope for the country.

What's next in life for you?


Apart from my passion for youth leadership, I am very keen on public relations, communications and advocacy. I have dedicated myself to the development sector and constantly looked for opportunities to progress critical global issues on a micro and macro level. I wish to continue the journey and expand my horizons to solve problems through a global approach, as an aspiring global citizen.

Photos and text provided by Palki Ahmad (MPA 2019)