“Hi. My name is Nhung.”
These five simple words marked the beginning of my English language journey as a little girl. Back then, when asked about my dreams for the future, uncertainty clouded my responses. Today, I proudly stand as a young Vietnamese communications practitioner with an MA in Global Communication for Development & Social Change from Loughborough University London. And in January 2024, I embarked on a new chapter as a Communications and Impact Officer and Time to Shine Leader at the Rank Foundation, focusing on enhancing both external and internal communications to support its ever-thriving network. Allow me to share the story of how my 2024 unfolded.
My 2024 started on a positive note, etched in my memory by the day Sonia, my line manager, called with a job offer just a few hours after my interview. I almost burstbusted into tears and I couldn’t help but dial my mom’s number. A woman whose education journey halted at grade 7, she’s not familiar at all with the intricacies of my academic and job-focused stories. But the pride and emotion in her voice were palpable as she heard the news.
I started the first week with the utmost warm welcome from Rank. But I confess, amidst information overload, I was nervous about uncertainties and scepticalskeptical of my own capabilities! And my line manager was the one who reassured me to take my time. By the second week, as I organisedorganized the information, and started to receive compliments from my colleagues, my confidence soared. This propelled me to attend the Time to Shine launch conference with newfound confidence and without uncertainties.
Gathering in London for a 2-day residential conference at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine’s, East London, I encountered the concept of a “residential conference” for the first time. Icebreaker activities, organisedorganized by the Rank Foundation’s Time to Shine team, set a lively tone. We played mini games, shared organisationalorganizational insights, and built connections. The positive experience continued over dinner.
The second day was pivotal, starting with Jen Mackay’s session on Leading with a Growth Mindset. Exploring fixed and growth mindsets, we delved into how they shape our learning, skill development, and goal achievement. The session instilled in me the belief that our mindset influences our potential to be leaders in all aspects of life. Before the conference, I often believed I was too insignificant, unqualified, and my contribution didn’t matter that much.
For the first time, I learned that “whether you think you can or can’t, you’re probably right.” (Henry Ford).
A mini game reinforced these lessons, and our team collaborated creatively to perform the Happy Birthday song in Croatian!
Meeting our line managers over lunch, we transitioned to Action Learning Set (ALS) groups, guided by our experienced facilitator, Christina. For the first time, I delved into what ALS entails and how it works. With objectives for the year mapped out, the ALS promises a year of growth and collaboration, and I’m eager to work with Christina and my ALS team all over the next 12 months.
We concluded the conference with Four Seasons Work Preference Profiling by Steve O’Smotherly, providing insights into individual work preferences and fostering a deeper understanding among team members. We collaborated with people sharing seasonal preferences and our line managers to optimize the Time to Shine experience in the workplace. It’s interesting to know that the Four Seasons Work Preference is not designed to measure our ability and/or effectiveness in the workplace, so there’s no right or wrong!
Embarking on my Time to Shine journey, I am reminded that success transcends backgrounds and education levels. If I reflect on myself a year ago, with a fixed mindset, envisioning a little Vietnamese girl with an average English level from a mountainous area in Northern Vietnam, being the first in my family to pursue high school and beyond—how could I dare to imagine I could come this far? Yet, I’ve learned that persistence and hard work lead to success, acknowledging there’s still much to learn. A dream job that leverages communication strategies for tangible and positive impact has become a reality. As a Time to Shine Leader, I anticipate encountering challenges and opportunities, and I am ready to embrace them all. “I aspire to become a professional communications for development and social change practitioner” — a response to the once tricky question.
Stay tuned for more insights and unforgettable moments throughout this inspiring journey that I will share with you throughout the year.