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Another 48 top university students complete their 13-day business leadership journey

Following last year’s successful inaugural run of the SmartEdu University Student Development Program (USDP), USDP Cohort 2 came to a close yesterday.

During the event, a group of eight students presenting their innovative solution for Thalias Hospitality Group won USD 1,800 and the CEO Challenge Champion title after pitching their ideas to the distinguished panel of judges comprising Kim Tol Am, CEO of BIMA Cambodia; Arnaud Darc, CEO of Thalias; Hashim Alkaff, Country Head of Grab Cambodia and Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata.  

Other awards presented to the participants during the night were Best Overall Team First Runner-Up who won USD 1,000, and Best Overall Team Champion who received USD 1,400 for their industrious commitment during the Bootcamp. Furthermore, eight Top Individual Performers were awarded with a two-month fully-paid internship with Axiata Group in Malaysia.

This year also saw Keo Pitou, from Hult International Business School in London, being acknowledged as the Best Individual Performer for his exceptional performance and based on peer feedback during the Bootcamp.

Keo Pitou said “The Bootcamp was an incredible experience. It was tough and we worked constantly, but I never learned so much within such a short time in my entire life. It is an experience that I will always remember, learning about emotional intelligence and leadership skills while meeting incredible and inspiring people. I am really grateful to have been selected for the program and will try to use the skills I gained in the future.”

Yesterday’s SmartEdu USDP Cohort 2 Grand Finale and Awards Ceremony was graced by H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport; H.E. Edleen Husaini Mohd Hashim, Malaysian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia; as well as H.E. Dr. Kan Channmeta, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. The guests of honor were impressed with the teams’ pitches and wished them the best in their endeavors.

Selected from 16 universities across the country and abroad, the 48 Cambodian students were first divided into 8 teams that underwent a Bootcamp at Sokha Siem Reap Resort. They worked on their communication skills, creativity and critical thinking, as well as emotional intelligence. All participants went through numerous digital business-related challenges, workshops and simulations where they were pushed to the limit and provided 360-degree feedback on each other.

During his speech, Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, illustrated how the SmartEdu USDP fits into the company’s vision of nurturing future ICT leaders and talents.

“The SmartEdu USDP Bootcamp provides numerous opportunities for Cambodian university students to take on leadership roles in a controlled environment. It equips them with real-life and problem-solving skills. I could not be more impressed with their ideas and hard work. We are proud to be helping these talents and I am looking forward to seeing what they will achieve in the future digital world.”

SmartEdu USDP was launched in October 2018 as part of the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. As part of the MoU, Smart has committed to invest USD 1.5 million over 3 years into two SmartEdu programs – the SmartEdu Scholarship Program and the SmartEdu USDP.

SmartEdu USDP is expected to further develop Cambodia’s best digital business minds with the tools as well as skills to help drive the country’s tech landscape. A portion of the USD 1.5 million investment is apportioned from Smart’s contribution towards the Royal Government’s Capacity Building and R&D Fund.

For more information and updates on SmartEdu programs, follow ‘Smart for Cambodia’ Facebook page at or visit

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