Dr. CharlesChao RongPhua: Harnessing The Power Of Trisector Strategy & Collaboration For Organizational Success

Dr. CharlesChao RongPhua: Harnessing The Power Of Trisector Strategy & Collaboration For Organizational Success

Dr. Charles Chao Rong Phua , CEO

Dr. Charles Chao Rong Phua


Having a tri-sector researcher-strategistentrepreneur is pivotal for a company's growth. This unique combination of skills enables a comprehensive understanding of the government, corporate, and nonprofit sectors, navigate complexities to identify opportunities and find the right problem to solve (the way Amazon did), strategize and innovate the next lap to ensure sustainable success. One such leader is Charles Phua, whose academic-practitioner expertise in full value chain in strategy (analysis to strategy to implementation) in government, corporate and nonprofits, and range in multiple business functions (strategy, HR, Ops, Tech, Marketing, Accounting) have proven instrumental in guiding organizations toward success in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

Charles Phua is the CEO and Strategist-General at Solaris Strategies Singapore, is amongst global top 100 Certified Management Consultant Academic Fellow (CMC-AF). With extensive executive/ postgraduate/degree qualifications from top business schools covering major business functions, he excels in horizontal strategy andinnovation fusing these functional verticals. Charles is an expert in diagnosing and solving non-technical problems for governments, corporates, and nonprofits. He has taught at universities in Singapore and Switzerland, and now focusing on executive education including running National University of Singapore Chief Strategy, Chief Technology, and Chief Data & AI Officer for senior executives with Emeritus. His achievements include briefing a head of state 4 times in seven days, supporting a 916B tech MNC's Five Year Plan, and editing the Routledge-Solaris series for strategy, wisdom and skills. Charles authored six strategy-related books, earning recognition for academic leadership and lifelong learning. Below is an excerpt of Charles Phua’s exclusive interaction with CEO Insights ASIA magazine.

How has your professional journey been so far? What is the motivation that fuels your daily routines?

As a tri-sector specialist in strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship, I am driven by an unwavering motivation to tackle complex problems that others are unable or unwilling to confront. My gestation towards to expertise was painstaking, spanning government, corporate, and nonprofit sectors, allowing me to understand their unique assumptions, variables, strengths, and weaknesses over 22 years. The trisector lens proves invaluable for addressing complex issues like sustainability, where mere ESG reporting won't suffice. Profitable sustainability demands a holistic reimagining of business models and products.

With a background in strategic analysis, planning, and implementation, I maintain theoretical rigor and practical relevance. As a consultanteducator, my focus lies in training individuals to become exceptional strategists and innovators in the digital realm, enabling my impact to multiply through coaching. Through my train-consult-coach (TCC) model, I provide practical training to staff teams, ensuring they identify the right problems, gain insights from data, learn from best practices, and design coherent blue ocean strategies. Merging consultant’s strategic wisdom with coach’s nurturing temperament ensures staff ownership of the strategy and innovation process, fostering sustainability beyond my involvement. Although my time is finite, the TCC model allows me to have a lasting impact across numerous organizations.

How would you define Solaris Strategies as an organization and its current position in the market?

We are a boutique consultancy, dedicated to addressing complex problems for trisector clients, offering a breadth of services akin to top consulting firms but at affordable rates. While we cater to clients who can't afford major consulting firms, we also advise those who can pay premium rates (more customization) and established firms needing revitalization. Our focus lies in providing customized multi-functional strategies and solutions in APAC and MENA, delivering theoretical rigor and practical impact. Through our unique TCC model, we ensure staff ownership, combining consultant expertise with educator/coach competencies. Our partners are PhD/instructor-grade consultants, and we serve organizations of all sizes, having worked on diverse projects, advised head of state; supported tech MNC 5YP; facilitated strategic planning SMEs and nonprofits, and nonprofits and exported our TCC model to Oman and Saudi Arabia, among others.

Continually staying humble to reality & knowledge enables me to diagnose accurately, innovate freely, & strategize effectively in consulting & training/ coaching for various sectors

What is the future roadmap you have envisioned for yourself in the next five years?

In the next five years, we hope to deepen our impact contributions in MENA and APAC regions. I have consolidated my learnings and experience on trisector strategy in my fifth book on Integrated Strategy across geopolitical, military, policy and corporate domains and sixth book on teaching strategy. I hope to apply my skills and framework to more trisector problems and work on the strategy and development of smart-sustainable-wellness societies or cities. This requires mastery of ‘hard’ topics of construction, engineering, real estate, urban planning amongst others to fuse my existing range of ‘soft’ topics. I intend to learn, apply, crystallise lessons learnt and codify best practices into a book for Routledge- Solaris series on smart-sustainable development.

In light of your strong experience within the industry, what advice would you give to budding industry leaders?

Ego is essential for confidence, but without substance, resilience, and humility towards people, knowledge, and reality, it leads to failure. Some leaders disconnect upon reaching a high rank, treating people as numbers and becoming closed-minded. Exceptional leaders remain grounded, humble, and continually learn, embracing diverse perspectives. Big-heartedness and a big-tent approach are key traits of enduring leaders.

Dr. Charles Chao Rong Phua, CEO, Solaris Strategies Singapore

Charles Phua (PhD) is amongst global top 100 professor-author grade management consultant (CMC-AF) specializing in trisector strategy-innovationentrepreneurship. He chairs Solaris Consortium of Management Consultancies, offering comprehensive advisory and coaching services for governments, corporates and non-profits in APAC and MENA. Recognized as one of Junior Chamber International's Ten Outstanding Young Persons for academic leadership, and recipient of Singapore Skillsfuture fellowship for lifelong learning.

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