Dong-Wook “DW” Lee

Deputy Director of Action Learning

Briefly tell us about yourself and what you do?

Originally from Seoul, South Korea, I spent much of my life in different corners of the globe either due to my father’s occupation or my own studies and work. After serving as an Air Force officer, I pursued my Masters degree in the United States at Harvard Kennedy School, followed by working at different international businesses and organizations across Asia-Pacific, most recently in Singapore and Malaysia. It has been 5 years working and living in Southeast Asia, which my family and I call home.

Currently, I serve as the Deputy Director of Action Learning (AL) and work with the Senior Director as one of the team’s engagement experts mainly responsible for the sourcing of projects for ASB students. I work with a spectrum of organizations in all different sectors, at home and abroad, to establish partnerships and identify real business problems for students to tackle each term. When I am not on the road sourcing projects, I also support the Career Development Office as one of their in-house Career Advisors and the Admissions Team as an Admissions Committee member, allowing me to be involved from the selection of prospective students to working with MBA students for post-graduation employment.

Why did you choose to join ASB?

I chose to join ASB because of the leadership and values that ASB and its incredibly diverse community had to offer. There are so many bright and talented people from all around the world wanting to build an institution of excellence that could have positive socio-economic impact in Asia. Having worked in all three sectors (public/private/non-profit) throughout my career before ASB, I saw all the best practices of these domains come together here. I knew that ASB would be an innovative business school and wanted to contribute whatever knowledge and experience I could offer in delivering something truly unique – young leaders of the future who would not only be looking at just maximizing the bottom line, but how to truly make this world a better place.

What projects have you recently worked on?

Since we have numerous projects each term that are sourced by the AL Team, it is hard to talk about all of them here. They were all interesting projects in which ASB students were able to deliver amazing work. However, if I were to mention AL projects from last term that holds personal significance, I would have two in mind. The first project would be a joint student project we had in Seoul with a partner university to deliver a long-term business strategy for South Korea’s sole satellite service provider. It was an experiment we undertook to work with another school outside of Malaysia and see if we could scale our international AL projects with academic partners. Student, faculty, and the corporate host were all pleased with this successful collaboration. Moving forward, ASB looks forward to seeing similar projects in other countries.

The other project would be the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) Roadmap project where 4 senior class students were tasked by the 10 capital market regulators of the ASEAN region to provide a 5-year roadmap that sets a strategic direction and recommendations to support ASEAN’s sustainable development agenda in mitigating socio-environmental risks linked to climate change. This was a high-level project that our students, with the guidance of distinguished faculty in the field, delivered an impactful document to market regulators, ultimately to be presented to the finance ministers of ASEAN.

(For those interested to know more, you can read about it here in the ASB Blog)

What are one the biggest challenges you face in Action Learning?

There is never enough uncertainty. Because all of ASB’s AL projects are ‘live’ business problems, you never know when the project scope will change. By the time our students arrive on site, the given problem most probably would have morphed due to evolving business environment or perhaps it has already been solved. Therefore, we are constantly working with a moving target, sometimes very limited data. But that is the beauty of AL – we have no ‘sanitized’ data as you would find in the back of a typical business case study conducted inside a classroom. Everyone needs to roll up their sleeves and be ready to get their hands dirty pivoting across different terrains – a great learning process for the students.

Can you tell me a little about the team you have been working with?

Like all other colleagues at ASB, the AL Team is an amazing group of people going above and beyond to make sure the School delivers a world-class service to all our stakeholders. Our AL Faculty, under the directorship of Professor Loredana and supported by Professors Sylvia and Ambra are a tireless team constantly responding to the changing needs of each AL project to ensure that the academic rigor is there. Sarmaji, who is our Senior Director is the ‘magician’ that makes the impossible happen. His seasoned experience and extensive network, spanning from decades of work in finance and higher education domains, are unmatched in ensuring that the best project hosts are engaged. Monica and Ben, along with AL’s Academic Associates Qistina and Siti, are the true heroes of AL’s operational excellence. They are able to manage and coordinate the detailed flow of each and every single project to ensure that no hiccups occur in providing the necessary logistics and communications.

Please share about how Action Learning contributes to the overall growth of students at ASB?

With everything that I have mentioned above, I believe you should have a better idea of what AL is about and what the AL team does. With all that said, AL enables ASB to offer a very unique program to students so as to be better prepared for a fast-changing world and be truly ‘market-ready.’

ASB is quite special in that AL comprises over 30% of its MBA curriculum. That is something that puts us at the frontier of experiential learning in business schools world-wide. Most students, if not all, join the ASB MBA program as they believe that AL will help them grow and transform like no other management program. The AL journey at ASB is not just about the projects that students undertake each term. Students learn to internalize their ‘learning by doing’ from Day 1 and this never ends.

What is your next goal to bring development to the department?

As ASB continues to grow in numbers and size, sustained scaling of projects and partnerships/collaboration around AL will be pivotal to the department’s development. This cannot be done solely by the AL Team. It will require a collective effort by the whole ASB community. My goal is to continue my contribution by identifying opportunities to further strengthen the synergies we are able to generate together with other departments and external partners in offering a world-class AL experience to our students.