Ha Pham (MSc Enterprise 2018)

Ha Pham

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What are you up to now? 

I'm working at Lock&Lock in the Research and Development team and at the same time creating my own organisation about Sex Education and Women empowerment named She Talks (https://www.shetalk.org) .

My role at Lock&Lock is market research and to develop new products for the company's global development. I am the founder, managing She Talks to become the main resource for Vietnamese young women to learn about sex education, changing the way people think about this sensitive topic, encouraging and empowering young girls and women to have a better life.

What have you done since graduation? 

After finishing my Masters I worked for Monster Group UK in market research and product development. Within just 2 months I helped the company to understand the Vietnamese sourcing market and expand their business to Vietnam by the very first shipment with Vietnamese suppliers. The CEO of Monster Group UK is a Business School Enterprise Ambassador. It was my pleasure to become the bridge to connect the Business School with the partner company, and also to connect UK business with Vietnamese business. Coming back home, I keep pursuing my career development in R&D and international trade, and at the same time I have founded a non-profit organisation named She Talks in sex education and women empowerment - which I'm always passionate about. She Talks has just launched and is still in the development progress, but it attracted hundreds of people since its launch. 

How did your Masters in Enterprise impact on your career to date?

it equipped me with the knowledge to succeed in global perspective of enterprise, cross culture management, social enterprise, etc which now fully support my career in international business with sustainable vision. Moreover,  I was encouraged to boldly pursue my aspiration of making a significant impact on society, especially younger generation and women. She Talks is just the starting point!

How did you hear about the Business School and why did you choose to study here?

When I started researching higher education in the UK for my Chevening scholarship application, there were 3 criteria I focused on: the reputation of the university, especially in entrepreneurship education; the city where the university is located, and the recommendations from alumni. Leeds University Business School has all elements that I was looking for.

Studying at Leeds, I am surrounded by talented, highly-motivated people from all over the world, as well as learning from some of the world’s finest minds, having access to the very best teaching facilities and being part of a talented, diverse peer group.

Every year, among 20 Vietnamese Chevening scholars studying at top universities all over the UK, there is always at least one Vietnamese Chevening scholar pursuing their master degree at Leeds.

Leeds is the third largest and one of the fastest growing, greenest cities according to the UK Government. I knew that living in a big city would help me to access many opportunities apart from academic life.

Tell us about your course - why did you choose it? What elements of the course inspired you to study here?

This choice of mine was encouraged by a Chevening Scholar who took her Enterprise MSc at the University of Leeds in 2015/2016. She said to me: “The combination of theory and practice as well as the focus on social enterprise is really suitable for people like you”.

MSc. Enterprise at Leeds has unique emphasis on sustainable social enterprise while most of UK universities (even other top universities) just focus on technology or general “one-for-all” business administration knowledge. The module Enterprise and Society was definitely a core element of my decision to choose Leeds for my further study, providing me with a comprehensive understanding of how social enterprises operate in response to government policies.

Also, the exposure to international cultures and different government regulations is essential for business in this globalized era. I found that the module Global Perspectives on Enterprise and Cross Culture Management have equipped me with knowledge to deal with cultural differences when expanding my business to other markets as the long-term goal.

What is the best part of your studies? What are you enjoying the most?

It is studying in a small-size class in a super friendly and supportive international education environment! With only 21 students in the class, it is easy for us to really interact and know each other from the very beginning of the course. The Program Director knows each student individually and supports us in everything not just in academic life. This helps students, especially international ones, feel like Leeds is their home, and the MSc Enterprise is their family.

I especially enjoy the practical activities of the course. The field trips to local companies give us the opportunity to access local businesses, listen to the owners’ start-up stories, and learn from and connect with outstanding entrepreneurs. We also have guest speakers in almost every module who are successful businessmen/women. They deliver their experience in start-ups, as well as giving us the chance to be their consultants, using what we have taught in classes to solve their company’s problems.

What are your career aspirations? Do you think the experience and skills you will gain on your course will help you in your future career plans? In what way?

My career aspiration is becoming a successful entrepreneur building my own start-up which would make a significant impact on society, especially the younger generation and women. I strongly believe that knowledge, experience, skills and networking from the MSc Enterprise at Leeds can support my goal. All of the modules equip me with in-depth knowledge of how to build feasible business idea and model. As a Business school student, I can easily access a large number of data resources which support thorough market research.

Additionally, modules such as Enterprise Awareness and Global Perspective of Enterprise have helped to improve my entrepreneurial characteristics and all-round transferable skills, as well as international exposure and approach which are essential in any business environment. Practical consulting projects for local firms not only give me opportunities to implement my in-class knowledge to business reality, but also connect me with a network of entrepreneurs who will become mentors.

Tell us about your scholarship. Why did you decide to apply for it, and how did you feel when you found out you’d received it?

I am a Chevening scholar – British Government scholarship holder. Chevening is one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarships in the world, aimed at developing global leaders, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Studying in the UK – one of the best educational environments in the world – was my dream since high school. However, the expensive cost for education in the UK seemed impossible for a Vietnamese from a basic family like me. That’s why the only way for me to pursue my dream was finding a fully funded scholarship. Chevening covers 100% tuition fees and living expenses for scholars for one year studying in the UK. Besides financial sponsorship, Chevening provides a massive community of scholars all over the world from every sector from business to medical, policy and security. Being a Chevening scholar, I not only have the opportunity to study at one of the best UK universities, but I am also able to connect with many talented and outstanding people who are always willing to support and co-operate and make a better impact on society.

I still remember the moment when I received the scholarship email from Chevening. It was a mixed feeling of surprise, happiness, pride and anxiety. Surprise because I could not believe that I could become part of the talented and outstanding Chevening “global leaders” who I had been always admiring. Happiness and pride because after all years of dreaming to study in the UK, after many periods of time and efforts applying for scholarships which sometimes seemed hopeless, finally my hard work had paid off. And anxiety because it would be a totally new chapter of my life, living in a new country far away from home for the first time, coming back to student life after several years of work. But more than anything, I have more belief in myself that I can make it if I keep trying my best, and the future will be so bright. I can’t wait for more wonderful adventures to come.

Do you have any noteworthy achievements from your study at the Business School that you can tell us about - eg prizes, highest scores etc?

I am the Representative of MSc Enterprise and a Student Ambassador. I work closely with students and professors to find the best improvements and create the most effective activities for the course, as well as support other students to make the most of life at Leeds.

If you are not from the UK, how was the transition to a foreign country? Did the University offer support or services that you found helpful? Can you offer any advice?

As an Asian student, I found it was really hard moving to a new western country: different weather conditions, food, different culture, different way of studying, using a foreign language in an academic way, living alone and away from home, no familiar faces, etc. However, the first 2 induction weeks helped me to overcome those initial difficulties thanks to the student ambassadors team, culture shock preparation, mock study activities to get used to academic life, global café and outdoor activities every week to meet new friends. The university also cares about the mental health of students with counselling services. All of these are really valuable to the student life.

What is your impression/experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the student union, the City of Leeds and the Yorkshire region?

Everything is accessible. I’m really impressed by Minerva system where I can access to all modules and study materials/channels anytime, anywhere. It also saves lots of time in submitting assignment and getting feedbacks. High speed wifi is at every corner of the university so I can use the free iPad (given to each Business School student) to connect with lectures and modern facilities in classes.

The Students’ Union is the best! They offer tons of activities to support students’ physical and mental health. Many societies for students to join range from sports to academic and professional activities. All students, with different cultures, habits and lifestyles, can find something for them.

Leeds is the 3rd biggest city in the UK where it’s easy to find any big brands in town. There are also plenty of job opportunities for students after graduation. However, Leeds is not as busy as London. It is the combination of peaceful environment with natural sceneries and modern city.

Are there any experiences outside of your studies that you particularly enjoyed? Eg participation in extra-curricular activities or groups, nightlife, the regions' historic places of interest?

I love joining Give It A Go and Get Out Get Active events run by the University! They give you the chance to try new and cool things which I could not try back home such as kayaking, sky diving, scuba diving, skiing, etc. This really helps with work/life balance. Also, I have met many new friends from all over the world and have life-long friendship through these activities.

What would you say your defining memory of studying here was? (eg friendships made, confidence in your abilities, or any single event that you will always remember?)

All my memories about my time living in Leeds are summed up in 3 short words: “sense of belonging”. It is about the MSc course with the professors who are always willing to support me in all aspects of life. It’s about my university accommodation on Clarendon Road where I have a real family with 20 members who always care about each other. After classes, I have a home to come back every day, cooking with other flat-mates who are my siblings, sharing our daily stories and deep talks, having weekend trips together, or even assisting and taking care if someone gets sick. It’s also about the Chevening community where I meet talented and like-mind people from every corner of the world, supporting each other and together making s good impact on society. Living in Leeds, I know that I will never be alone.

Would you recommend the Business School to others who are considering studying here?

Through all the advantages I have mentioned above, of course I would!