Nguyen Ho Quang Ha is an active member of the UK Alumni Association in Vietnam (UKAV), an organisation the British Council created and nurtured in terms of capacity and resources since 2007. Following the footsteps of previous generations, he came up with the idea for a job connection fair ‘Connect the Dots’, a trusted and selective job channel that helps a large number of UK alumni connect efficiently with employers.
Nguyen Ho Quang Ha is a busy man, but that does not prevent him from making meaningful contributions to the community. He currently works as Hanoi branch manager of a foreign company in risk management and insurance consulting, and concurrently the managing director of UKAV in Hanoi and an executive member of the Vietnam–UK Friendship Association. UKAV alone has about 2,500 members and approximately 7,500 fan page followers, having engaged in a diverse range of activities to connect and share, from culture, sports, philanthropy to job opportunities and most notably the Connect the Dots event initiated by Ha.
Ha studied his MBA at Southampton University in the UK in 2009, became an active member of UKAV in 2012 and almost instantly he had the idea for the job fair ‘Connect the Dots’, to connect employers and help students returning home from the UK to deal with the challenges of finding a job.
Ha is on a mission for UKAV to connect former and outbound Vietnamese students to the UK, sharing life and learning skills for them to get the best preparation possible in relation to the culture, society and environment before arriving in the country. Connect the Dots is an opportunity for students to best re-integrate when they return home, provide updates on employment, economic development in Vietnam, and so on. This provides a really solid platform for students.
Support and counseling from the British Council helped UKAV make Connect the Dots more professional, such as how to properly assess the needs of employers and candidates who return as UK alumni to create a convincing agenda for the event, including workshops discussing employment demand, updates on job markets in Vietnam and secrets to successfully finding a job. These were followed by in-person interviews between employers and candidates. The first event in the chain took place in August 2013, crowding in about 300–400 participants and eight companies, including major names such as McKenzie, Standard Chartered Bank, among others.
The first event was a resounding success and marked the establishment of Connect the Dots, as the initiative became a source of high quality employee supply. Ha recalled: “In 2015, FPT as one of the participating companies, was provided with 100 applications by UKAV, 30 of which were accepted. Another example is Standard Chartered Bank that participated for five years in a row, as did many other businesses.”
For five consecutive years, Ha took the lead in event organisation and personally engaged in fund raising activities. Added to that, with the British Council’s support along the path, participants in Connect the Dots have increased in numbers, launching UKAV as a well-known brand name that is recognised as one of the most professional and effective student alumni in Vietnam. The event is not only for engaging UK alumni, but also alumni students from other countries. Ha said: “The biggest event was in 2016. About 40 companies and 700 international students, including 400 from the UK attended. We had major Vietnamese and foreign firms, including IBM, Microsoft, HSBC, Vietnam Electricity (EVN), FPT Corp., Vingroup and even the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower, coming to find human resources.” Many young talents have found the jobs they wanted through Connect the Dots, for example the VinPearl Nha Trang Vice President’s job, a position with a healthy salary. Moreover, this also came with meaningful partnerships, as some students who found jobs through Connect the Dots later came back voluntarily to support the initiative.
Ha personally thought Connect the Dots gave him a network to connect and share with friends, and he was happy to do something to help young students. He has come across many talented young Vietnamese and he wants to share opportunities and understanding with them, to help put Vietnamese human resources on the international employment map.
As such, he holds dear his moto in life: “Be yourself, do good deeds, live with the community”, and being a part of UKAV and the British Council helps him live up to his philosophy in life.