“Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.”
This quote, attributed to French statesman Napoleon Bonaparte, is now perhaps more relevant than ever.
Over the past decade, China has most assuredly awoken. In 2015, it overtook Japan to become the second largest economy in the world with its growth in 2018 estimated to take up more than one third of global total economic growth.
But it is not just China that is making waves. Other Asian countries are showing signs of unprecedented growth. Last year, The Economist predicted India and Bhutan to be among the top three fastest-growing economies in the world, topped only by the Dominican Republic.
Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos were also all slated to experience gross domestic product growth of more than 6 per cent.
Furthermore, 17 of Fortune’s top 50 largest companies by revenue last year were from Asia — including China Construction Bank, Sinopec and China National Petroleum.
The evidence is incontrovertible: the future lies with Asia.
In order to stay relevant in this new future, it is ever more important for universities to find qualified leadership — men and women with the acumen to negotiate cultural differences on both sides.
And perhaps none is more qualified than Professor Chris Rudd OBE, who has been appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of Campus, Singapore at James Cook University (JCU).
Prof Rudd has worn many hats throughout his 17-year career in the higher education sector. His last position was provost at the Ningbo campus of the University of Nottingham, a position he held since 2015.
In that capacity, he created the university’s Asian Business Centre, chaired the Nottingham Confucius Institute and was a board director of the China Britain Business Council.
His list of achievements does not stop there; aside from successfully initiating major investments from several corporate clients in East Asia, Prof Rudd was also awarded the 48 Group Club Icebreaker Laureate prize in 2015 for his work in facilitating Sino-UK relations.
The same year saw the Nottingham Confucius Institute recognised as one of the 10 Model Confucius Institutes worldwide, under his leadership. Prof Rudd also received the Camellia award from the Ningbo Municipal Government in 2017, for his contributions to the development of the city. He also holds the West Lake Award from the Zhejiang Provincial Government.
In recognition of his work bridging Asia and the West, Prof Rudd was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) last May.
But Prof Rudd has no intentions to rest on his laurels.
“JCU has brought its innovative programs and approach to one of the most exciting cities in the world and I look forward immensely to continuing the great work of my predecessor,” he says of Dr Dale Anderson, JCU’s previous Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of Campus, Singapore who retired last December.
Having spent much of the last decade doing business in Asia, Prof Rudd makes no secret of his enthusiasm about leading the Singapore campus of James Cook University over its next phase of evolution.
“Singapore's powerful positioning as the main corridor for international business and trade through Asia gives our faculty and students unique insight and opportunities to contribute to and benefit from the continued rise of Asian economies,” he says.
With the inexorable rise of these economies comes equally inexorable change. But Prof Rudd is certain that JCU students will be well-equipped to adapt to a rapidly evolving workplace environment.
“Today’s JCU graduates are taking up careers which in many cases had not been conceived a decade ago,” he says.
Technological evolution continues to accelerate; cashless societies, autonomous transportation and delivery systems and machine communications will all become ubiquitous.
It is thus imperative that JCU continues to educate its students in ways that expose them to the cutting edge of developments, he stresses.
In doing so, JCU students will be equipped with the practical skills to serve the citizens of tomorrow — but they will also continue to innovate, embrace change and network resources responsibly, so as to benefit communities and businesses while protecting the environment.
“The best way to seed changes needed to deliver a sustainable future is to engage the best young minds, and this is our key priority,” continues Prof Rudd.
The key word above, of course, being sustainable.
To him, it is not enough for a university to merely be an educational institution; it must contribute to the good of society.
And the Singapore campus of James Cook University is capable of doing so, thanks to its highly internationalised teaching faculty who bring diverse perspectives from western countries and deep knowledge of Asia.
Prof Rudd believes that this puts JCU in a unique position to work with local communities throughout Asean, with the eventual goal of constructing a safe and harmonious society.
“JCU in Singapore is committed to our corporate vision as a university for the tropics, and we are well placed to work with industry, business and local governments to tackle many of the pressing environmental and social problems that we see across Asean,” he concludes.