The Zalo x Fulbright Leadership Development Program – Where talent, vision and heart came together as one


Early January, Fulbright University Vietnam was pleased to host a special “graduation” event for nearly 50 participants of the Leadership Development Program. It was organized by our very own Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in collaboration with Zalo Group, a Vietnamese tech company that developed some of the most widely used online services and platforms in the country such as the messaging app Zalo, the music streaming service Zing MP3, and the online newspaper Zing News. 

Also known as “me.grow”, the program was specifically designed by CEI for Zalo Group’s middle managers currently working within the company’s departments of Human Resources, Sales and Marketing, Product Development and Technology. 

Prior to joining this intensive program that ran for over three months – alongside and on top of the day-to-day workload to which they were fully committed at the company, the participants were required to pass an assessment of leadership and English competencies organized by Zalo Group themselves. The latter’s reason being: not only was this program led and conducted in Vietnamese by Dr. Nguyễn Chí Hiếu, CEO and founder of the educational social enterprise IEG Foundation, as well as a familiar face to the Fulbright community for his roles as lecturer and instructor in some of our leadership and education training programs, the Zalo x Fulbright Leadership Development Program also featured lessons offered by Dr. Chris Moos, Lecturer in Organisation Studies at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University, whose research “focuses on leadership, institutional complexity, pluralism, paradox, and social evaluations.”

Dr. Nguyễn Chí Hiếu

“me.grow” ran from September 30, 2022 to January 9, 2023, with training modules conducted in hybrid mode – by which the physical classroom on Fulbright campus were host to not only an interactive and immersive in-person experience, but at the same time online lectures delivered overseas. With regard to how to deliver a leadership-focused training program that distinguished itself from other alternatives out there, while also meeting the specific demands of Zalo Group when it comes to the applicability, practicality and substance of knowledge, the team of Fulbright’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation had worked in tandem with the leadership at Zalo, the university’s faculty as well as industry’s experts and specialists to finally decide that the program should adopt a human-centric approach.      

As such, the thread that linked all the training modules at “me.grow” began with lessons that tapped into one’s sense of self-awareness – meaning how the participants could find and reflect within themselves aspects where they felt the need to continually learn and constantly improve. From that, each and everyone can develop their own style of leadership, potentially becoming the nucleus of pushing new progress within their organization, while inspiring those around them with heart, talent and vision. 

Accordingly, alongside learning modules centered on the essential skills that a leader should have, self-reflection as assignments and practice formed a sizable bulk of the program’s requirements. Over the course of three months, Zalo’s middle managers had built up knowledge and enriched discussion on a wide array of topics such as Emotional Intelligence in Leadership, Leading without Authority, Building Motivations, the Art of Storytelling, Management vs Leadership, Leadership Styles and Team Performance. 

Upon completing the program, they all looked back with fondness and satisfaction at how well-designed it was – by stringing together multifaceted modules entirely different from other training programs they’d taken part in, “me.grow” was able to bring about revelatory insight that can potentially transform their work at Zalo. They were also impressed by the dedication and professionalism that the team of Fulbright’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation had demonstrated thoroughly in organizing the program.  

With lessons as rich in pragmatism as they were delivered in an engaging, stimulating environment, Zalo’s middle managers now hold the tools to develop themselves further, while their personal growth will doubtless drive the organization forward in the long run. Many of them were eager and inspired to apply what they’d learned from the program, and to strive to become a positive force for change for their teammates and colleagues.       

Their passion and commitment were also emboldened by Dr. Nguyễn Chí Hiếu, as he imparted to them that, “This program marks the beginning of your becoming true leaders. Talented and dedicated as you are, we hope you will lead with not only your head, but also your heart, so that not only your organization but also our community and society at large can prosper together.”     

Mr. Bùi Hải Phú, Operations Manager of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at Fulbright, said: “We sincerely thank Zalo Group for choosing Fulbright as your trusted partner, and we look forward to collaborating with them again on future training programs. The past three months also reflect our belief that good leaders are those who strive to work for the common good, who lead with innovative thinking and integrity. At CEI, our goal is to help these young future leaders “discover the innovators within themselves, and become the change-makers they aspire to be.” 

About the Leadership Development Program and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Fulbright (CEI)

The Leadership Development Program is one of CEI’s innitiaves to provide companies in Vietnam with  the knowlege and practical know-how specifically designed for them, so that they can create meaningful change within their organization. Prior to Zalo Group, in May 2022, the program was delivered by CEI to 22 young leaders who were functional experts with years of experience in management-level positions with high prospect to take on senior leadership roles at Coca-Cola Vietnam.

The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at Fulbright provides training programs and community-building initiatives based on three main pillars: entrepreneurship, business innovation, and social innovation. By supporting our community with the knowledge, practical tools, networks and hands-on opportunities, our goal is to nurture the entrepreneurship mindset and bolster capacity for innovation as part of Fulbright’s culture and academic program.

Our vision is to become a pioneering platform to help students, faculty, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs across Vietnam to discover the innovators within themselves, and become the change-makers they aspire to be.

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