Two Options: Step forward into growth or Step back into Safety

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Two Options: Step forward into growth or Step back into Safety

Author: Nguyen Thi Minh Giang, Former Partner of Talent and Culture, Mekong Capital

Mar 30, 2018


Minh Giang

Truong Dieu Le (left) and Nguyen Thi Minh Giang (right)

In March 2018, we were in our storytelling session and was asked to share an example of one of our Core Values and I immediately looked at Dieu Le who sat next to me. Dieu Le is an inspiring person and the reason for my career success at Mekong Capital.

I remember when I joined Mekong Capital as HR Officer in 2010, I was the most junior team member at that time. I only had experiences in recruitment and zero experience in other HR functions and Le was assigned as my mentor.

Every time I had a weekly meeting with Dieu Le, these were mixed feelings and unpredictable results. That might be a consulting meeting when I felt upset because I doubted that I did not fit with Mekong Capital and she was there to help me clarify and generate the answers. There was another time when Le coached me on how I could be responsible instead of kept blaming the other people. She was the person who encouraged me to speak out and try my new initiatives: Organized Halloween party, Sent Thank You Letter to Employees’ parents. etc…She saw something new and potential in me.

She would suggest things like “Minh Giang, what do you think you can do differently”, “Minh Giang, I think you can lead the All Hands Meeting by yourself”; or “Minh Giang, in next 6 months, you should skip 2 levels in our career progression system.

Once she really pushed me beyond my boundaries. She said: “ Minh Giang, I think you can exercise your leadership here in organizing best practices training sessions for our investee companies. We have never done it before but I think you can do this successfully.”

I remember thinking “ OMG! Organizing a training session will be like singing on the stage… if there is any breakdown, people will know it.”

Even though I was unsure if I could do this, the one thing I was absolutely certain about at that moment was that Le would be there and empower me and support me. So, of course, I accepted this assignment.

After that day, as the only person being responsible for organizing these, I needed to learn how I could find the best training session leaders in the market and negotiate with them the most affordable cost, how I handled the tax issues with service providers to issue VAT invoice for the participants while Mekong Capital could not involve in. I even contacted many companies to find enough number of participants while we signed the contract with the training leaders. I almost visited all well- known hotels to find the most suitable training location.

Again and again, she was always beside me and never let me alone. Step by step, under her leadership, I keep growing to the most senior role in HR department. Working directly with Le, what I have learned is that “If we want something that we have never had, then we have got to do something we have never done”. Le gave me space to learn from mistakes and keep moving ahead.

When I think about what Springthrough (One of our 8 core values and means: Inspiring ourselves and others to step out of comfort zones, play a bigger game, and choose empowering contexts which lead to new actions and breakthrough results) I think of Le and how she inspires others to step out their comfort zone, support them in their growth to reach their full potential and keep adding more value. Imagine what we could achieve and the more value we could add if we all inspired and supported each other.

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Mekong Capital makes investments in consumer-driven businesses and adds substantial value to those companies based on its proven framework called Vision Driven Investing. Our investee companies are typically among the fastest-growing companies in Vietnam’s consumer sectors.

In January 2022, Mekong Capital founder Chris Freund published Crab Hotpot, a story about a bunch of crabs who found themselves stuck in a boiling pot. The colorful cover of “Crab Hot Pot,” complete with expressive cartoon crustaceans, looks like a children’s tale at first glance. But as one continues reading, it becomes clear that the work has an important message about organizational transformation, leadership and focusing on a clear vision for the future.

The book is available on Tiki (Hard copy): (Vietnamese) and Amazon: (English)

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