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Reflections on a Month in Vietnam

I have been back in lovely Lynnfield, Massachusetts, USA since August 24. Eleven days to acclimate and reflect.

The opportunity to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and teach classes in the MS Leadership program for Northeastern University was a terrific experience for me. The first class on Leading Teams began online June 30. This gave me an opportunity to get to know the students through the Blackboard platform. To exchange ideas. To learn a bit about their lives and what drew them to this program.

Week 5 of the Teams class got underway in HCMC the week of July 28. The warmth and friendliness of the students at first meeting was very much appreciated. I got to know a bit more about them and their lives beyond what they posted in Introductions on Blackboard. Two of the women in the class own their own successful businesses. Three students work at International University, the partner institution in downtown HCMC. One student is a gas and oil trader. The youngest in the class is a recent grad straight out of undergraduate school. One is assistant to the President of another local university. Another organizes student activities at another university.

What this group has in common is a desire to carve out their niche in a highly competitive world of work in Vietnam. There are many MBA programs. But this MS Leadership program is quite different from the rest. It helps students examine styles of leading. What makes teams tick and how best to develop this form of work; in many instances, a project management tool that draws people from across departments in the workplace to get a special job done.

The Teams class wrapped up August 9. And the Building a Leadership Development program got underway August 10. We were fortunate to have Mr Lai Minh Duy, General Director of TST Tourist, Vietnam and Mr Bruce Newton, Senior Director, HR for eSilicon a US corporation with offices in Vietnam. Both gentlemen discussed how they developed as leaders in their companies, how they worked through impediments, and what makes some people successful. The following week we had Jeff McLean, General Manager of UPS operations in Vietnam. These speakers shared how they developed as leaders and what they believe contributes most to success today in the workplace, particularly in Vietnam. A key topic was always the multicultural make-up of today’s workforce.

Departure was bittersweet August 23 when i began the long flights home to the USA. Getting the unique chance to teach overseas and to learn so much while at the same time providing some stimulating food for thought for these students was a great experience. I will always cherish it. And when this group of 12 graduates I look forward to seeing them when they come to Boston to don the cap and gown and regalia for commencement. I recommended June vs February 2015.

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