Ellie was born to a working-class couple who strongly believes in the power of education and hard work. Her early childhood was filled with free English classes via television, daily books read by her mom, and biweekly weekend trips to bookstores with dad – in between his work shifts on offshore rigs. Page by page and vocab by vocab, Ellie’s belief of a different world was formed. She was so sure there was a world out there that spoke a different language and used forks, not chopsticks for meals.
After years as a worker, Ellie’s dad was promoted to engineer and traveled abroad for the first time. After each trip, he would tell her stories of the long flights, of new discoveries, and showed her photos of the different people he met. His sharing ignited in her a desire to see the world beyond borders, where people speak different languages, and people look diverse.
In 2003, on her 12th birthday, Ellie declared her dream to study abroad with her middle-class parents. They were speechless. They smiled sheepishly. Still, they assured her to keep studying hard and that her dream would come true. They offered two suggestions: a) to stay on course, get to the local university, and they would earn enough by then to afford her post-grad program, or b) to find a full-ride scholarship if she wanted to go earlier. Her parents highly recommended giving the latter option a good shot.
Feeling empowered by her parents, Ellie was determined. Ellie searched and sat for any scholarship tests she could find around Saigon. Hard work paid off. One year later, to everyone’s surprise, included herself, Ellie’s life took a turn with the scholarship by the Singapore Agency of Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR). Her global journey started at the age of 14, 10 years earlier than expected.
A decade of study and work in Singapore, London, Barcelona, Boston, and Chicago were surely exciting, yet, something was missing. After each trip home, it was harder for Ellie to part.
In 2016, when an offer to build an Indochina team came up, Ellie took the leap of faith. After four years, she was close to concluding that she cannot thrive in her home country, that she does not fit in locally, and that the reality is much different from her expectation. As she strategized her relocation, a dear friend shared about Mekong Capital Leadership Bootcamp. Mekong’s vision, purpose, and core values spoke to her. Wounded by her past, she doubted if those words were decorators. Reading through Mekongers’ stories, she felt hopeful and decided to “test it out”.
A couple of days in, and she was in awe of the authenticity, kindness, and commitment of each member she met. Feeling safe, she cracked open the amour she did not realize she had on for so long, as she tried to cover up her avoidance of responsibility for unsuccessful ventures. With guidance, she let go of her urge to prove herself. She reconnected with her little self – the one who dared to believe in the unexpected future, say it out loud, and dare to do whatever it takes to realize that dream.
Feeling empowered, the same feeling she had at 12 when her parents assured her to keep studying, Ellie declared her life to be impactful. She is the force that uplifts dedicated leaders, who dare to articulate their extraordinary visions and dare to mark the journey with countless breakthroughs.
At Mekong Capital, Ellie lives her dream, being the committed partner to founders and management in achieving their visions, which in turn, enrich millions of lives. Together with her team, Ellie stands for Mekong Capital’s investees to be the national pride and for Vietnam to be the country of choice for sustainable and meaningful living.