YSI SEA’s Culture Deck

Surya & Irsyad

Jan 2019

YSI stands for

Young Sustainable Impact

This deck serves as an overview of where our team has been, where we are going, and how we’re going to get there. It’s also meant as a guide for the YSI SEA team

The tone is purposefully casual ;)


To empower Southeast Asian youth to solve sustainability challenges with a measurable impact

(more about the SDGs later)

YSI Global

YSI Global was founded in Oslo in late 2015, in response to the COP 21 Paris Climate Conference.

The initial concept was a week-long conference where young entrepreneurs from all over the world came to design and implement solutions for all aspects of sustainability.

However, following the conclusion of the 2016 conference, there was a realisation that more extensive efforts were needed to conceive effective solutions. A week was not enough.

In response to this concern, the concept of implementing an extended online phase prior to a conference was born in 2017, and has persisted since then as the YSI Innovation Program.

YSI Southeast Asia

YSI Global made a call for country directors to extend the program’s reach, given that 10,000+ people applied for their 2017 program.

YSI Southeast Asia was born from this call, along with YSI Bangladesh and China

Despite being faced with an uphill task of delivering a fully-funded program for Southeast Asian youth, we managed to run our inaugural program, with 6 start-ups coming out of it.

All YSI chapters continue to work closely together as tightly aligned teams of trailblazers in our own regions.

What’s Coming Up?
YSI Southeast Asia

Going into 2019, we continue to work towards being the best youth organisation in Southeast Asia, and extending impact beyond our annual innovation program.

We want to show that youth are able to drive sustainable development in SEA.

To do this, we operate as a company, and not a committee.

But how do we sustain with a team that is mostly comprised of volunteers right now?

We do this by looking at how our productivity and workflow would allow us all to support our business model

That way, we will reach a position where we can get revenue (and by extension, start having employees).

One way we do it is through our organizational structures

We may be in either one, two or all three categories at once

Core Team

The backbone of keeping up YSI SEA operations

Impact Partners

Guides teams during our flagship innovation programme

Sustainability Dive Team

Curates content and/or provides training to clients and the public

Community Leaders

Provides training to clients and the public

The core team is the backbone of the organization

It comprises of directors and enablers (as well as advisors who were formerly directors)


Coordinates online and offline community efforts in SEA


Biz Dev

Seeks out partnerships and clients, and maintain local relationships



Crafts our brand image and maintains a strong social presence


Coordinates the planning and creation of programmes


Identifies and tracks key impact metrics


Ensures the smooth planning and execution of the yearly SSC and SSS

ASEAN Outreach

Reaches out to relevant organizations and institutions in the region

Impact partners work to ensure the best chance of success for participants of our innovation program

We meet the teams regularly, and discuss with other impact partners fortnightly

The sustainability dive team conceptualizes, curates content and/or provides training to clients and the public.

*YSI SEA is working on creating specific focus areas in 2019 that covers all three aspects, as opposed to sticking to all 17 SDGs. This is so that we can direct our efforts better, scale our scope as we gain the capacity to understand and facilitate innovation in others areas, and address the interconnected nature of the SDGs.

Community leaders are local representatives all around the region tasked with increasing youth engagement to drive sustainable development

And we are supported by a team of mentors and advisors that continues to grow


The other way is by getting our culture right, so that we know what matters to us while enjoying the process!

What is culture?

A set of shared beliefs, values and practices


Culture doesn’t just help attract amazing people.

It amplifies their abilities, helps them do their best work, and ultimately keeps them around.

Adapted from the Hubspot Culture Deck

This document is

part manifesto and

part employee handbook

It is part who we are and part who we want to be


A thriving Southeast Asian community that actively tackles evolving sustainability issues

Every word in our vision was carefully crafted by our team of directors.

Together, we identified 5 core values that would enable us to achieve our vision

Sustainability Driven


A thriving Southeast Asian community that actively tackles evolving sustainability issues



Value Creating

Diverse & Inclusive

The YSI Southeast Asia Culture Code

  • Above all else, we are driven by sustainability
  • We are committed to creating value for all at every opportunity
  • We are deliberately diverse and inclusive in our operations
  • We strive hard to be professional in all that we do
  • We are empathetic towards one another

Above all else, we are driven by sustainability


Before all other aspects of our culture, we recognise that sustainability is our compass that determines our actions

How we frame addressing sustainability:

  • Sustainable development and the UN SDGs
  • Innovation as a driver of sustainability

Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

The Goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it ís important that we achieve each Goal and target by 2030.”

(From the UN)

We recognise that all aspects* of sustainable development matter

Environmental, Social, Economic

*YSI SEA is working on creating specific focus areas in 2019 that covers all three aspects, as opposed to sticking to all 17 SDGs. This is so that we can direct our efforts better, scale our scope as we gain the capacity to understand and facilitate innovation in others areas, and address the interconnected nature of the SDGs.

This means that our knowledge on sustainability never stops growing:

  • Knowledge on sustainability issues
  • Knowledge on players in the ecosystem
  • Knowledge on current approaches and roadblocks to addressing sustainability issues

It’s going to take a lot of passion to build up our knowledge base

There’s a lot to know, and the desire to understand more empowers us.

We build up knowledge and work towards understanding issues

We believe that well scoped problems lead to better solutions, and that we need to empower youth to be able to communicate problems on the ground clearly and comprehensively...

...because knowing enables us to take action

We do this through the process of innovation

What is innovation?

Innovation describes the processes of developing a new idea to the point where value is created. Understanding a problem deeply is an important precursor to innovation, but it alone is not sufficient to drive it.

YSI SEA hopes to enable both breakthrough and incremental innovations

Breakthrough innovations are a combination of incremental changes combined into one solution that would be able to spread rapidly. One builds on the foundation of another.

We have mechanisms to enable both to happen

And we find ways for all our stakeholders to do this with us. So as a team...


We are committed to creating value for all at every opportunity

Our core impact strategy focuses on the empowerment of youth

We have various methods to empower youth!

YSI SEA Innovation Program

Online and Offline Communities

Courses, Seminars and Webinars

Online tools and resources (compiled by YSI Global)

We believe that innovators for sustainability can come from anywhere

And from any angle you look, it makes sense to find a way into as many communities as possible. Rural or urban dwellers have very different perspectives and access to knowledge.

To enable youth, there are many other stakeholders whom we engage.

Knowledge Partners

Mentors and Investors

Community Partners

Corporate and Public Sector Partners

Educational Clients

Facilitation Clients

These stakeholders will come on board as partners or clients

Either way, the idea is the same; either

  • Find ways to drive sustainability together as partners, or
  • Enable our clients to identify ways that they can introduce systemic initiatives to be more sustainable

The way we work with our stakeholders is simple

  • Be clear and concise
  • Show initiative by actively identifying and addressing obstacles to closing a deal/loop.
  • Always be positive about interactions, and maintain a link

We strive to create positive environmental, social and economic returns.

This would be the case regardless of whether stakeholder interactions materialise as partnerships or clients.

But how do we do this?

We’re going to need to figure it out, together.


We are deliberately diverse and inclusive in our operations

We all came into the YSI SEA team to enable positive impact

We believe that we can do something, and this belief brought us together. And this means that we all bring something valuable to the table.

We make sure that people we bring on board know things we currently do not

Or at the very least, are driven to learn, are not afraid to have an opinion, and are not afraid to have that opinion changed

There are challenges being in the sustainability space

We will constantly be making decisions on how we sustain as a company, and these decisions will come under heavy scrutiny. There will be friction within the team as we balance between moving fast and being inclusive in decision making.

As a company, we will need to act fast

Being action oriented ensures our ability to deliver. It is the primary responsibility of the CEO, COO and directors to ensure that things are done.

...but if you aren’t comfortable with any business plans or initiatives, sound off

While prioritizing innovation warrants a need for speed, your right to sound off is what will keep our organization from falling into the trap of herd mentality.

Being action oriented


Sounding off

Keeps us from falling into analysis paralysis, while also having a check-and-balance against becoming action-at-all-costs echo-chambers.

Beyond the SEA team, YSI has a presence in Norway, Bangladesh and China

We all play an active part in writing the playbook of how to be part of meaningful decentralized interactions with other teams.

How to work (globally)?

  • Start building up a deep understanding of cultural sensitivities and context; it helps us find ways to either leverage on or overcome them.
  • Understand that everyone in YSI brings value to the table, yourself included.
  • Be comfortable with people disagreeing with your perspectives and vice versa, and remember to always substantiate disagreements so that the interaction is meaningful.

Remote working is a key enabler of tapping on different perspectives

Best practices not only build up our own capabilities, but also help us to pass them on to youth to enable them to remote work!

There are tools that enable us to collaborate remotely


Global communication & skills centre for All YSIs


Internal & External Documents & Presentations


YSI SEA and Global Task Management x External Updates


YSI SEA Communication & Chats

Video Call

Internal & External Documents & Presentations

  • Utilize the “comment” feature to provide constructive criticism and suggestions for edits to others.
  • Be comfortable with people chiming in with comments midway, or taking over time sensitive work if you’ve hit a snag.
  • Link Google Drive links into the relevant Trello cards for easier access

Notes about effective Google Drive usage

So we have a better idea of how to (and why we should) enable inclusivity

However, there’s more to being an effective organization than including different perspectives from around the world. We need to execute.

We strive hard to be professional in all that we do


There are three aspects of professionalism that matter

  • Individual
  • Working Together
  • Engaging External Stakeholders (covered earlier)

The way we do individual work is a one step process

  • Avoid multitasking at all costs

How to do tasks efficiently:

  • Focus on a task and get it done.
  • Move on to the next one once the thing on your mind is done.
  • Only set aside a few minutes to answer others in the midst of your work and be clear if you are working to finish something so that the person can approach you later.

Less Multi-tasking

Faster workflow

More iteration & improvement

Higher quality

More value driven

The way we work together is a one step process

  • Be present

Why should we be present?

  • To enable us to foster connections with one another!
  • To enable smooth and fast workflow in the organization through physical interactions and communication

But what about all the talk about remote working?

YSI SEA has successfully worked remotely in the past, and will continue working remotely with other YSI teams.

However, it does cause a strain, and there are benefits to social interactions that we should leverage on whenever possible.

When to be present?

Core Team:

  • 6 Hours a week for enablers
  • 8 Hours a week for directors (+ time for meetings when required)

Impact Partners:

  • 2 hours weekly from March - July 2019

Trainers: Variable, based on assignments

Social Collider

Our home away from home

When not to be present?

Sundays. If absolutely necessary, we’ll call online

Before 10am, and after 10pm

Two weeks before final exams

More guidelines coming. We’re open to suggestions


  • Full-time working adults or interns of other companies
  • If you’re on an exchange program
  • Family emergencies
  • If you’ve displayed a particularly good ability to work remotely, and if your role is more specialized

(We’ll work something out, we’re flexible)

Additionally, we are aware of the tools that we need to function

While this list is non-exhaustive, it is a good overview

ok lemmie list out our target markets:

- youth (18-35 in general) [for courses, offline community, online community and edutech, start-up innov, CSIP]

a) youth (ITE/poly/JC age)

b) youth (young professional 25-35 age)

- experienced professionals [for mentorship and community]

- MNCs [start-up innov, CSIP, offline community, courses]

- schools [courses, online community, offline community]

a) SG schools

b) SG unis

c) Overseas schools

d) Overseas unis

e) SG international schools

f) Overseas international schools

- local govt agencies [start-up innov, offline community, online community]

- overseas govt agencies and embassies

- local foundations and other related organizations

a) TF Ecosperity

b) etc.

- overseas foundations and other related organizations [start-up innov, offline community, online community]

a) ASEAN Foundation

b) WEF, ADB, World Bank

- NGOs

- Social Enterprises

- SMEs

- VC firms

- Accelerators and incubators

- Angels

- Impact investment firms

- Impact investors

- Other youth organizations

- Other sustainability ecosystem builders



c) Ashoka

d) MaGIC

e) raiSE

- Other start-up ecosystem builders

- Other educational organizations

a) e.g. codeforasia

We leverage on educational platforms with robust features

Innovation focuses on professional content creation and delivery


Key to running Online Innovation Programme

We use tools that ensure quality output quickly

Marketing ensures our professional public image.


Design for posters, flyers, 1-pagers, presentations etc.


Website Management Platform

Social Media

Outreach platforms

Google Analytics

Tracking website traffic and developing SEO strategy

We drive meaningful engagement with existing platforms

Our community team ensures that we engage the region effectively.

Social Media

Engagement platforms

Social Collider

For offline engagement events (in Singapore)


Crowdsourced collaborative problem identification

We will all have our own stakeholders to manage, but Biz Dev will need closer monitoring of various partnership and sales.

Biz Dev seeks out and follows up on opportunities

Partner Management

Comprehensive & Up to date tracking of partners

We know the tools, we know how to work together

But we must always remember that in our journey to drive impact, we should not drive one another up the wall, nor should this journey strain us to a point of harm. In order to ensure this...


We are empathetic towards one another

We all came together for a reason

And sometimes, that reason may push us to prioritize the mission over treating our fellow team members like humans with limits

It helps to remember some ways to treat one another better

  • Listen to understand, and communicate to be understood
  • Accept that there will be differing views
  • Put yourself into the shoes of others

And we know that this extends beyond our team and into the community

We understand that in our quest to work with (and create a community of) different people in different countries, knowing how to treat one another better is really really important.

Know that it will take time to get the hang of this

It’s not immediately intuitive for everyone to be empathetic and openly communicative, but it’s the desire for individuals to be these things that will make the team better

At the end of the day, we trust that all our words and actions are in service of the mission

And even when disagreements come up, when we remember the intention, we have common ground to reconcile and press forward

We have your interests at heart. Your time is valuable, and...

  • We are committed to developing you in the ways you want to be
  • We assure you that we will not stop in our efforts to push the boundaries of how youth can have a sustainable impact the region

And finally, YSI SEA is not a reflection of any single person

It is a culmination of effort and consideration from everyone involved in the team

for more info:


for inquiries: info@ysisea.com


YSI SEA Culture Deck 2019 - Google Slides