At Next Step Connections (NEXSTEP), we specialize in designing and delivering transformative programs and personalized learning experiences across Asia. Our primary focus revolves around hands-on learning that immerses university students, working professionals, and organizations in new, enriching environments. Whether it’s student internships abroad online and offline, custom study tours, or learning journeys for businesses, we offer a diverse range of program types that cater to individual and group needs.
As an experiential learning organization, we strongly prioritize on-the-ground immersion, forging partnerships with global companies to provide internships at home and abroad, with a primary focus on the APAC region. We firmly believe in the transformative power of lived experiences and strive to create learning environments that genuinely connect with our participants. Be it virtual or in-person, our dedication remains unwavering as we aim to ground students in their experiences, ultimately empowering them to embark on life-changing journeys.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr Francis Goh, CCXP, Digital Innovation. Delivered., Amazon Web Services (AWS)’ Digital Innovation Leader. Francis has over 20 years of international experience in technology and energy industries. He has a strong track record in driving innovation, building high-performance teams, and developing breakthrough business models across various sectors, including oil and gas, FSI, telco, manufacturing, and in government. With a background that includes leadership roles at Accenture, SAP, HP, Microsoft, and Mercer, he specializes in emerging solutions and value-selling expertise.
At NEXSTEP, he has taken on a mentorship role, where he sheds light with students about innovation and technology. “I think NEXSTEP’s programs are really good, as the trips and discussions really help the students- not just to encapsulate the concept of the real working world, but also to give them the opportunity to interact and ask questions directly to industry leaders and practitioners, thus learning a great deal more throughout their experience. I am happy to be part of their learning journey,” Francis explains.
He has recently appeared as a guest speaker on two programs with NEXSTEP. The first was with a renowned IBGM program at The University of Hong Kong, where he ran a culture of innovation workshop and spoke about some of the most exciting upcoming technologies, such as generative AI, with all its broad capabilities and applications. The second was with the Western Sydney University School of Business & School of Computing, Data and Mathematics, where Francis hosted students in the AWS Joint Innovation Centre (JIC). In the JIC, the students had the opportunity to see the AWS and IMD technologies and programs in practice, learning how they work and are set up within the innovation lab. “I believe the students were particularly inspired, pertaining to themselves potentially being an entrepreneur in the future,” adds Francis.
“It is beneficial to meet companies from retail and consulting to tech and fintech, and also in the healthcare space, as provided by NEXSTEP. I think it’s good for them to have the opportunity to visit the lab, the production flow, meet those people, the Who are running the businesses, the practitioner, and to have the ability to ask questions that sometimes give a very different diverse experience from what they learn in school, which is most of the time more conceptual and theoretical.” This unique experience allows students to see the realities of their interests and explore the worlds they want to pursue.
When talking about the invaluable immersive programs that play a crucial role in preparing future leaders in business and global management, Francis emphasizes the importance of experiencing how a company works and how it creates solutions towards meeting the needs of the customers and beyond.
When asked about the benefits of the immersive programs and how they can personally help students from professional, technical, and adaptability standpoints, Francis highlights the 16 leadership principles that they have at Amazon and how useful they could be for students to offer them a framework of thinking. He discusses Amazon’s leadership principle of “Learn and be curious,” emphasizing the importance of fostering curiosity and continuously asking questions. He also mentions the “Day One” culture at Amazon – a customer focus that encourages a re-evaluation of the basic business questions that are often overlooked, a mindset that helps drive innovation and learning. Additionally, Francis points out the significance of being open-minded in approaching challenges. Instead of hastily making decisions, he encourages individuals to explore all possibilities, which proves instrumental in their innovative thinking and learning endeavors.
Francis discussed with us his role as the Digital Innovation Leader for ASEA at Amazon and reflected on the importance of innovation and how it impacts both individuals and companies. He highlights Amazon’s own innovative journey, from its humble beginnings as a bookshop to becoming a major player across myriad industries, including in the cloud and e-commerce. Francis explains Amazon’s “walking backwards” mechanism, a simple yet effective method used to generate and validate ideas, helping customers develop the right problem statements and surface innovative ideas. He then touches upon his involvement in customer engagements, guiding them through different levels of understanding and implementation of innovation processes.
Additionally, Francis emphasizes the significance of personalized and customized learning experiences for higher education institutions, where technologies like generative AI play a crucial role in enhancing the learning process. “It is important to be able to take the concept of personalization into education, where personalized and customized learning pathways are developed for different types of learners, based on their competencies, preferences of the learning modalities.” stresses Francis.