On March 10, Fulbright’s Career Development and Jardine Matheson co-organized the Business Leaders Networking Event. The event consisted of a panel discussion with three Jardines executives, followed by a networking session where students had the opportunity to communicate with the panelists and learn from their global experience with Jardines.

“What makes a leader special?” – asked Duc Dao, ERP Project Manager at Guardian Vietnam, a health and beauty brand operated by Jardine Matheson.

He, together with his colleagues Edward Tran, Market Analyst at Schindler Vietnam, and Van Chu, E-commerce Manager at Pizza Hut Vietnam, was speaking at the panel discussion on “Building a C-level Mindset as an Early Starter”, part of the Business Leaders Networking Event hosted by Fulbright’s Career Development and Jardine Matheson.

“We are living in a very uncertain world. COVID-19 aside, everything else is changing too. Take e-commerce as an example. Ten years ago, a corporate leader did not have to care about e-commerce, as e-commerce was only in its rudimentary stage. But now, leaving e-commerce out of a business is barely imaginable.” This uncertain and ever-changing world is what a leader must adapt to. “A leader has to learn how to learn, stay up-to-date on how things are changing, and foster a generalist way of thinking,” said Duc.

Edward also echoed Duc’s statement on the generalist and growth mindset: “Know some finance if you’re a marketer and know some marketing if you’re a financial analyst. You’ll be able to start seeing the bigger picture that way.”

Addressing Duc’s question from a different perspective, Van suggested that being a good leader demanded great interpersonal skills, among others. “Being good listeners is what distinguishes leaders from bosses. A leader listens. A boss does not, hence they would likely not get far [in their leadership careers].”

So, how can students prepare themselves to be ready for the future and to become future leaders, while they are still at university?

“Step outside of campus,” said Edward. “Collaborate with people outside of your communities and comfort zone to develop your skills set, including leadership. If opportunities to do so are not readily available, create them. Be the initiator.”

Van, on the other hand, advised students to be more ‘present’ in class and open to learn new things, even if they might be challenging and seem irrelevant at first. “There are certain skills and knowledge that you think will be obsolete by the time you enter the workforce. This is not always the case – many university courses teach you important theories that will be applied in your day-to-day work. Therefore, stay in school, and stay focused in class!”

Recalling his experience of pursuing a degree in political science in college, Duc emphasized that majors did not always matter, but rather the transferable skills that students could pick up during their university years. “Studying political science allowed me to learn how to learn, how to write effectively – in both academic and professional settings, and how to manage different stakeholders. It’s not just about the knowledge in political science, or whatever majors that you’re undertaking. It’s about the things you do in college, the skills you can acquire, and how those can help you and your future employers.”

This remark was endorsed by Anna Champion, Head of Early Careers at Jardines: “Your majors don’t matter when it comes to your careers – perhaps except for a few very technical majors like law or medicine. The

important thing is whether you can translate what you have acquired in college into what your future employers need, and what you can contribute to them.”

The event closed with a networking session between Jardines’ representatives and Fulbright students. This gave students the chance to discuss directly with guest speakers about their future careers, discover the range of opportunities at Jardines, and expand their professional network.

The Business Leaders Networking Event is the very first collaborative event between Fulbright and Jardine Matheson in this academic year, which will pave the way for future engagements of both parties before and during Fulbright’s Career Day in 2022.