Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Arrives

For forging a fintech future in Southeast Asia

Alagesan Hanippuya is in the hot seat. Banks in Southeast Asia are being bombarded by digital disruption, forced to play catch up. At RHB Banking Group in Cambodia, the changes are both practical and cultural: Digital payments in Southeast Asia are expected to hit US$1 trillion by 2025, yet nearly half of adults in the region don’t have a bank account, according to a 2019 report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Co. 

Hanippuya is responsible not only for RHB’s information security infrastructure and payments systems—complex and mission-critical—but also for guiding colleagues with new product launches. Among the priorities is accelerating business owners’ growth. One recent project for parent RHB Banking Group delivered a system that allows entrepreneurs to access banking services more easily so they can ramp up their ventures more quickly.

But Hanippuya knows success—for RHB’s customers and the bank itself—isn’t just about speed. Those who can navigate uncertainty and lead with empathy and authenticity will inspire others to facilitate change, he says.   

“Networking and collaboration are required to learn and adapt—it’s the quickest way to catch up with fast-disrupting technologies.”

Q&A: Alagesan Hanippuya on anticipating risk, clarity of communication and Mahatma Gandhi

What project in the world most influenced you personally?

Television. When I was a child, I watched Oprah Winfrey with my parents. Inspiring stories and experiences shared in the talk show built my confidence, and encouraged me to help myself and everyone around me.

What’s the one must-have skill to succeed in The Project Economy of tomorrow?

Risk management. Uncertainties are more prominent with rapidly changing technologies, with robotics and AI replacing human resources in industries. There’s pressure to deliver new projects, products or services, and this requires planned actions with calculated risk management.

What is your philosophy for leading projects?

Communicate project milestones clearly—they are the building blocks and the roadmap.

How are young people changing the world of projects now?

Young people leverage digital platforms, data science and automation tools, which makes the project team more engaged, result-oriented and quick in resolving issues in delivering projects.

What’s one way managing projects will have changed by 2030?

Staff of an organization will have to be trained to deliver on goals and strategies quickly. Basically, it’s transforming all functional organizations into projectized organizations.

What famous or historic person would you want on your project team?

Mahatma Gandhi. We’d work on a project to promote peace.