“I see myself working extensively on the issues of sustainability in business”

Thao Nguyen, policy advisor at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shares her experience of the Swedish Institute Management Programme Asia and how she plans to integrate sustainbility into her work.

Why did you apply to SIMP (Swedish Institute Management Programme) Asia?

Sweden has not only been a donor to Vietnam but has also become a partner in the process of a transition economy when we as a country are facing new challenges. Since I was dealing with new issues at work, I looked at Sweden on the issues of sustainability in order to see what lessons we can learn. There isn´t any better way than looking at best friends and partners and learn from them! Therefore I looked for training programmes in Sweden and was told that SIMP was one of the best.

How has SIMP helped you develop as a change maker?

As a change maker the programme has helped me when it comes to the issues of sustainability and labour rights. Vietnam is an economy heavily dependent on export and we sign and ratify many free trade agreements that include clauses and commitments on sustainability and labour rights. We have a commitment to implement and therefore it is important that we as the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry proactively incorporate all this into our strategies, policies and work plans. My ambition is to learn concepts, tools and get more knowledge about sustainability and how to introduce labour rights into businesses. And I have learned a lot! I can immediately write down what I learned today into my work for the next two or five years.

What are your recommendations to anyone thinking of applying to SIMP?

Do apply! It is a really wonderful programme and offers so much diversity. This means that you have to enter SIMP with an open mind. More conventional ways of learning teach young people learn from old people but in this digital age older people have a lot to learn from younger. There is also a great diversity of experience, nationalities and subjects. There is so much thought and strategy put in every single step of the programme. It really is an amazing journey!

If you had to choose one thing that you liked about the programme, what would that be?

It would be that the programme includes theory and learning by experience. SIMP has a wonderful combination of classrom training and fieldtrips, not only in Sweden but also in other countries as China and Indonesia. We learn best practices from high level experts in Sweden, but we also learn from each other as we all come from countries with similar level of development that are facing the same challenges. That is the best way of learning.

Have you already benefited from the SIMP network?

Yes, very much!  We are getting to know each other and are bounding, all sharing a commitment to the issues that we are working with but also to each other. We want to reunite every now and then to see how we are progressing with the issues that we have learned in SIMP, and how we can support each other. It´s taking root very well and there is a sense of fellowship among us already.

Where do you see yourself in the future – what’s your goal?

I see myself working extensively on the issues of sustainability, gender equality and labour rights in business, laying some early work in order to be able to scale it up within five to ten years. With the free trade agreements and all the commitments there is a timeline for these to be implemented. It will not get fully implemented tomorrow, rather it is a step by step and I am very glad that I have started now and I hope I can follow it through for many years to come. I would like that these issues become more relevant and more of an integrated part of a transition economy such as Vietnam.

Find out more and apply to the Swedish Institute Management Programme Asia.
Application open until March 31, 2021.