Ms. Yen (first row, left) and the young leaders
The prolonged rain in the morning of 8th October 2016 couldn’t stop 13 young leaders in LIN’s 2016 Leadership Circle from making their way to the office of Disability Research and Capacity Development (DRD). It was weekend and the venue was far from city center. However, everybody was excited for what’s waiting for them: a talk with one of the most inspiring nonprofit leaders in Vietnam.
Welcoming them to the meeting was Ms. Vo Hoang Yen, the founder of DRD. Ms. Yen started by asking the group questions about them and the organizations that they founded. These questions are also the ones that she struggled with in the early days of DRD:
- What are the things that drive you to address these certain issues?
- What are the biggest challenges for you?
- How to overcome these challenges?
The 13 individuals have different things driving them to establish their organizations, but all have the same objective of building a better community. There are many different challenges facing the young leaders, but those that came up the most are human resources and social systems.
Ms. Yen replied by sharing her advice and experiences on how to drive the organizations forward and how to manage the operations of not-for-profit organizations, from grant application, understanding beneficiaries to managing the stress of being the leader and other academic insights. Some lessons are especially valuable for young leaders, such as:
- The leaders should not try to do the impossible. Focus on solving the problems at hand.
- A good leader behaves aptly in different situations while staying true to his or her core values.
- Idea is what makes the difference and leads the change in this society.
- Collaborate when necessary
- Stay updated with international information.
At the end of the meeting, Ms. Yen suggested the 2016 Leadership Circle group work together in the Social Work for the Youth project. Mr. Pham Truong Son, Deputy Director of LIN, along with Ms. Yen will be their mentors in implementing the project. The sharing session ended with every one having lunch together at a café near DRD office.
Thanks to the inspirational meeting, the young leaders received a boost in their enthusiasm and gained deeper insights into the activities of non-profit organizations. "After meeting with Ms Yen, I found the answer for one of my difficulties while working at my organization, which is what I should do when the beneficiaries refuse help from an NPO," said Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Hien, Project Manager of Children Smiles. "The answer is very simple, and I had one for my own, but after I listen to Ms. Yen, with her experience, I am confident in what I am doing. I personally appreciate her sharing about the path she has experienced since it is impressive and helps me reflect on my approach at my NPO."