RMIT Vietnam NewsRMIT alumnus empowers Hong Kong foreign domestic workers through education

RMIT alumnus empowers Hong Kong foreign domestic workers through education

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 14:54

RMIT Vietnam alumnus Nguyen Hong Phuc decided to leave behind her glamorous corporate management job to teach at a non-profit organisation, helping educate domestic workers in Hong Kong. 

After graduating from RMIT Vietnam with a Bachelor of Commerce, Hong Phuc started her career as the Asia-Pacific management trainee for Japan Tobacco International, where she worked in various marketing departments and markets (Malaysia and The Philippines) before becoming Brand Manager at the age of 25.

But after six years in the job, she decided to further develop her business acumen. She was awarded a scholarship and delighted to be told that she is the first Vietnamese student to be admitted to the University of Hong Kong’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

Hong Phuc was delighted to be told that she is the first Vietnamese student to be admitted to the University of Hong Kong’s MBA program.

While doing her MBA, Hong Phuc was actively engaged in entrepreneurship and community activities, which provided her with the drive to forge her own path.

Instead of interning at big corporations, she pursued her entrepreneurial interests by chairing the University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club and volunteered at non-profit organisation EmpowerU, which empowers Hong Kong foreign domestic workers through education and community building.

In Hong Kong, there are more than 385,000 foreign domestic workers, representing 10% of the city’s working population. Many are mothers who leave their families at home, working six days per week to provide for their loved ones. By stepping in and providing a service to support Hong Kong families, they are the hidden force that makes so much of the city’s success possible.

Phuc said many of these women aspire to more than domestic work but often lack opportunities to further their education while in Hong Kong.

“At EmpowerU, we firmly believe that these workers deserve better. And since most of these workers are the main earners for their families in their own countries, helping them access education will have a cascading effect,” she said.

“EmpowerU has volunteer academics from world-class institutions teaching domestic workers technical and soft, or human skills to improve not only their own lives but also their employer’s well-being. We help them prepare for the future, whether in domestic work, a different career field or even as an entrepreneur.”

Phuc teaches more than 350 workers in one lecture at EmpowerU.

That’s where Hong Phuc’s business and commerce knowledge comes in handy. On top of teaching entrepreneurship skills to help workers turn their business ideas into reality, she also manages six undergraduate interns and is directly involved in the school’s operation and management.

Phuc said going from a corporate to a non-profit organisation was a major career shift and cultural change. She reflected fondly that the culture at non-profit organisations was akin to a small town – seeing familiar faces and developing close-knit relationships with the locals.

“You can find people coming from different backgrounds working together for good purposes,” she said.

Hong Phuc is being mentored by Alibaba’s Former President & COO Savio Kwan.

Hong Phuc always reminds herself to be humble and never stop learning from those around her.

But she said it’s equally important to learn how to learn.

“It is totally ok to admit that you don’t know – no one can ever know it all. But by being humble, remaining positive, asking questions and seeking help it enables one to keep growing and evolving”, she said.

Hong Phuc graduated her MBA degree with Dean’s Honours List in 2019 and is planning to continue to live and work in Hong Kong.

Story: Cindy Tran