Interview with Welly Tantono of ACC Singapore


Welly Tantono, president of ACC Singapore


We are coming close to our sixth anniversary, official anniversary of formation. It has been quite a journey. I still remember the first day of ACC Singapore was officially formed, I think we knew that there were close to 100 ACC members in Singapore who had residency in Singapore, but there had been no events prior to that. Our first event was a Norton Rose’s event, if I’m not mistaken. Come to today, we are at about 360 members in about six years. So, I think that has been really amazing in terms of growth and the types of activities we have had.

The most significant event that that we are really gearing up for is the 2020 ACC Asia Pacific annual meeting. This year it is in Hong Kong. Next year will be pretty much hosted by the ACC Singapore chapter and it is going to be a very big event. The board is super excited. We are already sitting down and trying to think about who could we get as keynote speakers and who are the people we can bring into this meeting.

One of the great things about this meeting is that it is an in-house focused meeting for the region. And I think in the US, through the ACC US, they have had this going for a while, ACC Europe has had this going for a while, but I do not think in Asia. There is a lot of opportunities to gather such a big group of in-house team together to share some of the difficulties we experience in this region.

What are the ACC Singapore goals for 2019?

ACC Singapore’s goal for 2019 is, we have kind of reached a little bit of that stage where we have focus on our programs and focus on bringing in members. And it is really time to grow into the next phase. As part of that growth, we have been very conscious about now, as we are a big-enough organization. How do I start to cater to people with special interests? And this is what we have done this year. We have actually set up committees, we have a young lawyers committee, a women’s committee, an IP committee as well as a pro-bono committee.

This was the first time we said, ‘Okay, we have addressed some of the basic needs for people to have a place to network, to learn about some of the developments in the law’. But let’s now go down one deeper level for people who want to have these sub specialties where they want to talk to one another within their group. We are starting to focus on some of these specialties and we think that that will drive even more engagement at the level of our members.

And also, I think of the ACC as almost like a space for especially the younger lawyers to have an opportunity to learn organizational and leadership building skills. The way I look at it is a lot of these committees that were being formed is also giving people who have never had a chance to serve in an association setting, the ability to say hey you know I would like to try this out.

How do we get people together which are a lot of what I call leadership skills. They are very useful to make that jump from an individual contributor to a manager level. But again, I think in Asia, for legal functions a few and far in between to make that job because we are not headquarters or a number of positions in a lot of these places are limited. But having an association allowing people to learn these skills, I think it is a great way to to get the experience. So ACC Singapore was officially registered in 2013 but the lead up to that was about two years of organisational work.

This interview was conducted during the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) inaugural APAC Meeting at the Island Shangri-la, Hong Kong, on 11 April. More than 240 in-house counsel delegates attended from locations across the Asia-Pacific region including Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, India and the Philippines. Read our coverage here