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30 Aug 2023

Manulife, Herbert Smith Freehills and Hyatt Join Forces to Unleash Hidden Talent Among Singapore Students Through Empowerment 

University students help improve international companies' diversity, equity and inclusion programs and business operations at the inaugural Diversity Champion Internship Program in Singapore

SINGAPORE - University students from diverse backgrounds in Hong Kong and Singapore have recently completed the challenge of developing recommendations for how corporations could strengthen their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs to further enhance their business operations. The assignment is the core focus of this year’s Diversity Champion Internship Program (DCIP), which is co-organized by Manulife, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Hyatt, which offers participants real-life experiences for their future career development.

Now in its third year in Hong Kong and held for the first time in Singapore, students were tasked with identifying the workplace challenges that employees face and suggesting solutions that could potentially address their concerns from a DEI perspective. They were immersed into the operations of Manulife, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Hyatt to experience first-hand their operations – ranging from job-shadowing and simulation activities to workshops and lectures – all while gaining a deeper understanding of the insurance, professional services, and hospitality industries to identify areas where employees could better leverage resources within the companies to help them excel at their jobs.

Students presented their findings and insights at the program’s graduation ceremony to executives from Manulife, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Hyatt, who will consider their input for potential deployment at their companies in the future.

Sudesh Thevasenabathy, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Asia, Manulife, said: "The Diversity Champion Internship Program has been incredibly transformative for both Manulife and the students involved, and we are thrilled to have brought this program to Singapore this year. By providing such a unique opportunity for students from diverse backgrounds, it helps to further remove systemic barriers and promote greater equity and access in the workplace. At Manulife, our mission is to drive inclusive economic opportunities, accelerate a sustainable future, and empower health and well-being for everyone in the community. We are proud to be a co-organizer of the program, and we look forward to taking it to more markets in Asia in the coming years."

Simon Chapman KC, Partner and Regional Head of Disputes, Herbert Smith Freehills, said: "At Herbert Smith Freehills, it’s part of our strategic vision to be the leading international law firm for diversity and inclusion. Programs like this allow us to take a step forward and say to our clients and communities that we’re committed to working together to achieve our vision for a more diverse and inclusive world. We are proud to have supported these inspiring future leaders to take the first steps in their careers. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Hyatt and Manulife as we develop the program in Hong Kong and Singapore."

Gordon Chan, Senior Vice President of Legal, Asia Pacific, Hyatt, said: "We at Hyatt believe that inclusion and diversity is a vital cornerstone of business and is fundamental to helping us achieve our purpose, of caring for others so they can be their best. We are proud to continue our collaboration with Manulife and Herbert Smith Freehills for a third year and to expand this Diversity Champion Internship Program into Singapore, offering students industry knowledge and experiences that they can use in their future careers. The passion and perspective the interns brought to the program has been inspirational. We look forward to continuing to invest in and grow this unique and meaningful initiative, engaging more promising young talent, and continuing to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce of the future."

The DCIP is an interactive, multi-industry placement opportunity for university students who face advancement challenges through their race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic background and/or disability. The goal is for co-organisers to leverage the academic and life experiences of students to further enhance their respective diversity, equity and inclusion programs, while at the same time provide students with the opportunity to potentially realize their ideas in the corporate world.

All three companies are committed to creating an inclusive work environment for both interns and staff, and that includes making accessibility adjustments to their workspaces, from accessibility bathrooms, flexible working arrangements, and assistive technology where needed. From the application process to the program itself, it was ensured that the interns would be accommodated according to their needs.

Damaen Tan, a second-year Data Science & Analytics student from National University of Singapore, said: "The Diversity Champion Internship Program allowed me to explore the many opportunities in the workforce, about which I had little or no knowledge previously. It made me realize the potential impact that DEI programs have on improving the overall business operations of companies."

Jing Xuan Goh, a second-year Communication Studies student from Nanyang Technological University, added: "When passionate individuals come together, it is not just about working towards achieving a business objective at work. It is about creating a more diverse and inclusive environment where people can contribute ideas that can contribute to a more sustainable future for employees, customers, and society as a whole."

Manulife, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Hyatt worked with SGEnable to identify and recruit student candidates for the DCIP. Students were selected based on their merit and the opportunities that they have had throughout their studies but, most importantly, their understanding of DEI.


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About Manulife Singapore

Established in 1899, Manulife Singapore provides insurance, retirement and wealth management solutions to meet the financial needs of our customers across their various life stages. Customers can readily access our solutions through our extensive multi-channel distribution network. In addition to our established agency force, we distribute our products through a number of specialist partners, including banks and financial advisory firms. For more information on Manulife Singapore, visit

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services provider, helping people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife across Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for our Global Wealth and Asset Management segment, we serve individuals, institutions, and retirement plan members worldwide. At the end of 2022, we had more than 40,000 employees, over 116,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 34 million customers. We trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.

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Carl Wong



Belinda Wong