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Championing Greatness of Spirit: Josephine Lok's Vision for the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation's Future

Feb 22, 2024
10 min read

In an effort to better represent the diverse dynamics of Asia, the non-Filipino Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation sees expansion this year. Notably, Josephine Lok joins, bringing with her a wealth of experience and achievements. In a recent email interview, Ms. Lok shared her insights and wisdom towards creating positive impact in an ever-evolving Asia.

RMAF: With the many demands of your career and other socio-civic engagements, what made you accept the invitation to be part of the RMAF Board of Trustees?

Lok: The Ramon Magsaysay Award recognizes and honours the transformative individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to society. To serve as a Trustee of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, an institution that champions greatness of spirit in Asia, is an honour and a privilege. The opportunity to contribute to the work of the Foundation in its efforts of celebrating transformative leadership aligns with my personal mission to make a positive impact beyond my professional sphere.

RMAF: What do you most look forward to in your role as a new member of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation's Board of Trustees?

Lok: As one of the newest Trustees of the Foundation, there are many things that I am looking forward to. The prospect of playing a pivotal role in celebrating leadership that created exceptional contributions to society is really exciting. Being part of the process that identifies and honours Asia’s transformative leaders; collaborating with like-minded individuals on the Board; supporting the initiatives of the Magsaysay Laureates and the Foundation to bring positive change – I look forward to being part of all of these.

RMAF: In what ways do you plan to collaborate with existing laureates and key stakeholders to ensure the sustained growth and relevance of the Ramon Magsaysay Award?

Lok: To ensure the sustained growth and relevance of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, my vision involves fostering collaborative initiatives with the Magsaysay Laureates and key stakeholders across the region. One particularly impactful program, born from a shared passion with the RMAF President Susan Afan, is the “From Success to Significance” initiative.

This innovative program is designed to engage successful and retiring/retired C-suite executives in a mutually beneficial collaboration. Here, the seasoned leaders play a pivotal role in nurturing and mentoring the Magsaysay Laureates in areas that will allow them to expand their transformative work beyond current boundaries – financial and organizational sustainability, use of new technologies, and strategic communications among others. Simultaneously, this program provides a meaningful opportunity for like-minded C-suite leaders to transition from personal success to making a lasting impact on society.

“From Success to Significance” encapsulates a win-win scenario, where Magsaysay Laureates and experienced leaders benefit from each other's wisdom, and retiring C-suite executives find a purposeful outlet to contribute to societal well-being. By tapping into this reservoir of knowledge and goodwill, we aim to create a sustainable ecosystem that not only uplifts laureates but also empowers influential leaders to channel their expertise for the greater good. Through such collaborative efforts, we envision propelling the Ramon Magsaysay Award into a future of continued growth, relevance and positive societal impact across Asia.

RMAF: The first Ramon Magsaysay Awards were given in 1958.  What is the role of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in the present regional and global contexts?

Lok: For over six decades, the Ramon Magsaysay Award stands as a timeless testament to transformative leadership. In the contemporary regional and global context, it serves as a beacon of inspiration to a new generation of change-makers. By recognizing and celebrating individuals at the forefront of addressing modern challenges, the Award transcends borders, fostering cross-cultural connections and promoting ethical leadership. In essence, its role remains pivotal – not merely as a historical accolade but as a dynamic force shaping a future where positive impact knows no boundaries.

RMAF: How can the Foundation address the evolving challenges and opportunities in the field of humanitarian service and leadership?

Lok: The Foundation can navigate evolving challenges and seize opportunities in humanitarian service and leadership by staying agile and innovative. This involves leveraging technology for efficient outreach, fostering strategic partnerships to amplify impact, and continuously adapting programs to address emerging needs. Embracing a forward-thinking mindset ensures the Foundation remains a dynamic force in the ever-evolving landscape of humanitarian service, effectively navigating challenges and maximizing opportunities for positive change.

RMAF: In our storied 65-year history, we have seen the Magsaysay Laureates address the region's most pressing challenges.  What issues are you most keen on in our search for transformative leaders in Asia?

Lok: In our quest for transformative leaders in Asia, I am particularly keen on identifying individuals addressing contemporary challenges related to sustainable development, social inclusion, technological innovation and environmental resilience. These challenges are pivotal in shaping the region’s future, and I believe leaders tackling them head-on exemplify greatness of spirit, the unique set of values that the Ramon Magsaysay Award celebrates.

RMAF: The Ramon Magsaysay Award has always been a celebration of "greatness of spirit" in Asia.  How do you define this "greatness of spirit" that the Award embodies?

Lok: Greatness of spirit, embodied by the Ramon Magsaysay Award, is the unwavering commitment to positive change, selfless service and transformative leadership. It transcends borders, inspiring individuals who, against all odds, dedicate their lives to uplifting others and creating a lasting impact on their communities. It is the relentless pursuit of positive change, the resilience to overcome challenges, and the ability to inspire others towards transformative actions that truly encapsulate the essence of this Award.

Josephine Lok is currently the CEO of Mizuho Bank Singapore. Previously, she served as the Singapore COO at UBS, playing a pivotal role in steering the organization through critical operational strategies and advancement. Ms. Lok has also held various leadership positions at Credit Suisse and is a pioneer in the data analytics field.

Ms. Lok officially joined the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation last January 10, 2024, she will serve her first term for two years. As a new member of the Board of Trustees, she enriches the Foundation's representation of Asia's diverse dynamics. Her commitment to driving positive change extends to mentoring and nurturing young talents across the region, as she collaborates with Trustees, Magsaysay Laureates, and stakeholders to foster sustainable growth and relevance. Ms. Lok envisions propelling the Foundation into a future of growth and positive societal impact across Asia, embracing its enduring mission of transformative leadership and Greatness of Spirit.