Some 200 supporters of the Vietnam-UK relationship, sponsors and selected guests from a wide range of companies and organisations packed the Wilton Suite in the South Bank Centre on the evening of 2 October to attend this ambitious event. The culmination of many months of work led by VUKN Committee Member Bao Ha Pham, it proved a great success.
Following registration and welcoming drinks, the event kicked off with an excellent background presentation by Bao on Vietnam today, bringing the audience up to date on facts, figures and opportunities presented by the advances being made in Vietnam. The main session then got underway with former Business Editor of the Guardian and specialist in inequalities and women in the workplace Deborah Hargreaves in the chair, to introduce the two panellists who had travelled from Vietnam for this event. These were Thao Griffiths, currently Policy Adviser to the Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Hanoi and former Country Director of the NGO Vietnam Veterans of America, and Irene Ohler, based in Ho Chi Minh City, who, with a long background in HR, now designs programmes for female executives in Vietnam and promotes women leadership.
Both speakers were excellent, answering a range of questions from Deborah and later from the floor. Thao Griffiths’ personal story of starting life in a humble household in a remote province and going on to win a Fulbright Scholarship and to bravely take on a range of challenging roles at a young age was highly inspiring. Irene, who moved to Vietnam in 2012, talked about establishing Women’s Storytelling Salons and the consultancy LightPath Leadership aimed at nurturing the talents of Vietnamese women. The attentive audience, men as much as women, was very much impressed by what the panellists had to say, and the way they told it.
Following this memorable and moving discussion, Vietnam-UK Network (VUKN) Chairman Warwick Morris warmly thanked the three panellists for a most stimulating Panel Session. He also thanked Bao for seizing the idea of a Women in Business event when it was first mooted more than a year previously, and for working so hard to turn it into a top-class event, supported by generous sponsors in Vietnam and the UK, by staff at the Embassy of Vietnam, and by an invaluable team of volunteer helpers.
After a busy round of lively networking and tasty nibbles, there was a Prize Draw, with one lucky winner receiving two return tickets to Vietnam donated by Vietnam Airlines and two nights in Halong Bay donated by Paradise Vietnam. All invitees went away with a bag of donated goodies including Vietnamese tea and coffee, and a copy of the prize-winning book: ’Ba Trieu’s 21st Century Daughters: Stories of Remarkable Vietnamese Women’, co-authored by Irene Ohler.
It is hoped that this event will stimulate further Vietnam-UK Women in Business-related activity. Any ideas, suggestions or volunteers to help take this or any other relevant theme forwards should not hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
More photos of the event can be found here.