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48 outstanding university students complete 13-days business leadership journey

Phnom Penh, 1st December 2018: After going through an intensive 13-days SmartEdu University Student Development Program (USDP) Bootcamp in Siem Reap, three semi-finalist teams of the CEO Challenge pitched their innovative solutions at the Grand Finale and Awards Ceremony at Sofitel Phnom Penh. The closing event was graced by H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, and H.E. Dr. Kan Channmeta, Secretary of State of Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Team Smart, consisting of eight university undergraduates, was selected as the winner of the CEO Challenge. The team’s innovative idea to reduce low-value calls to Smart’s contact center using new and existing digital solutions, which was developed within 48 hours, wowed the distinguished panel of judges of the night: Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata; Chy Sila, CEO of Sabay; Richard Bates, CEO of AIA; and Mao Sophaline, Chief Partnership Officer of Pathmazing.

The CEO Challenge winning team was awarded 1,800 USD, while the Best Overall Team throughout the Bootcamp received 1,200 USD. Furthermore, top eight individual performers were presented with a fully-sponsored 2-month work exposure at Axiata Group in Malaysia.

During the closing ceremony, Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, shared the company’s vision of unlocking new business leaders for Cambodia’s digital future through this annual program that emulates the successful Axiata Young Talent Program in Malaysia.

“SmartEdu USDP prepares Cambodian university students to lead the country’s tech industry into the future and tests their aptitude for learning real-life problem-solving skills. I had the privilege of spending some time with the participants at Siem Reap and I have to say that the future really looks bright for Cambodia! We look forward to further enrich the Kingdom’s ICT sector with these talents and the talents emerging from the next rounds of SmartEdu USDP during the years to come.”

The initial applicants from 14 universities across Cambodia were whittled down to 48 in teams of 6. Those teams then underwent the Bootcamp at Sokha Siem Reap Resort and Convention Center where they were equipped with theoretical, experiential and personal development opportunities to improve communication, creativity and critical thinking skills, 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.

This intensive Bootcamp was a first-time experience for many and was instrumental in preparing the students for the final CEO challenge, said Keo Priyanith , one of the participants from Royal University of Phnom Penh.

“The Bootcamp was 13-days of hard work and many sleepless nights but I learnt so much about myself, my teammates and about business leadership. I am grateful to be selected to go through this unique program and learn so many skills in a short span of time. I look forward using what I have learnt in my studies and in my future employment.”

SmartEdu USDP was launched in October 2018 by Smart Axiata 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 committed to invest 1.5 million USD over 3 years into two SmartEdu programs. In addition to the SmartEdu Scholarship Program, SmartEdu USDP will further develop the Kingdom’s top digital and business minds with the tools as well as skills to help drive Cambodia’s tech landscape. A portion of the 1.5 million USD investment will be allocated from Smart’s contribution towards the Royal Government’s Capacity Building and R&D Fund.

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

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