Why my colleague chose that integrity is more important than being promoted

by Chris Shayan, Director of Business Engineering, Mekong Capital

It was 12th July 2018. After six months of working full time in Mekong Capital, I was honored to become a member of management team that participated in semi-annual performance reviews. I attended the 1H18 performance review for all the Deal Leaders, who are responsible for leading the investments of our funds. Something happened in that very meeting, that I had never seen before. It was just shocking to me. I am sharing what happened.

Chris Freund: Thu Thuy, I think you deserve to be promoted to the next level. You have done a great job and as your mentor, I propose you to be promoted. Does anyone have any counter proposal?

All the other Deal Leaders nodded their head: Yeah, we think Thu Thuy is doing very well. She deserves it.

Thu Thuy: No. No.

I was thinking that she was saying no, and it was because she was surprised and was gonna say no no, this is awesome, but she said:

Thu Thuy: No. No. I do not want to be promoted. I do not deserve it. I did not achieve all of my KPIs. I do not want to be promoted.

Yes, that was exactly what she said. She turned down a promotion because she thought that she did not deserve it despite what other Deal Leaders have said about her. I knew Thu Thuy was quite stubborn and yes she was, but this was incredible. It never happened to me before. I do not recall ever that I promoted anyone and I heard “no, I do not deserve it”. This was crazy. Then I said in the meeting: “Mekong Capital is a weird company. I have never seen such a thing before in my career, very weird”. By rejecting being promoted now, she will miss the opportunity to earn more money in the coming years.

Thu Thuy taught me a lesson that day by rejecting the promotion. She felt if she had got promoted it would have been lacking integrity, as she felt she did not deliver all of her commitments. For us, integrity means honoring your words, that if you say that your commitment is to deliver 100% of the target, you will deliver 100% of the target. If you deliver 99% of the target, it lacks integrity. It’s either achieved, or not achieved, black or white. Amazing. I wonder, if each member practices integrity like Thu Thuy, and always strives to achieve 100% of our target, there will be no target for us at Mekong Capital that is un-achievable.

Nguyen Thu Thuy, Principal, Mekong Capital
Nguyen Thu Thuy, Principal, Mekong Capital