Rutgers Sets Up Mentoring Program in Vietnam

Rutgers Business School recently published an article by Susan Todd about Assistant Dean Sangeeta Rao’s June visit to the Ho Chi Minh National Academy in Hanoi, Vietnam, where she ran an intensive three-day training program on mentoring.

Dr. Mary Hawkesworth, a “distinguished professor of political science and gender studies at Rutgers,” invited Rao to conduct the program on behalf of the Women in Politics and Public Administration (WIPPA).

At Rutgers, Rao has been instrumental in developing programs like Team Up and Helpful-Executives-in-Reach that connect undergrads with working professionals. She explained that American professionals often take mentoring for granted. “It is just part of the institutional culture and the culture of professional development. In the West, we’re very familiar with terms like coaching, mentoring and sponsorship, but these were not widely embraced or even known within the working culture of Vietnam.”

Rao continues: “The Vietnamese are often encumbered by social norms, which make very clear divisions between gender roles both at home and in the workplace.” This, coupled with the fact that Vietnamese relationships tend to be “fluid between the personal and the professional,” makes the challenge of adapting local working culture to private enterprise one that will certainly take time to evolve.

According to Rao, one major reason she decided to lead the program was because it “seemed like a strategy that could make a real intervention in furthering women in their careers, particularly in public administration and politics.”

Besides her “motivated, interested and eager” pupils, what was the highlight of Rao’s trip? The food, of course! “They have fresh fruit of the most incredible kind that’s given at working meetings. We had a working lunch for those three days—I had eight-course meals. Lunch break is one-and-a-half to two hours long. After lunch, there’s a half-hour tea break and then, many people like to take a short nap.”


About the Author

Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as contributing writer at MetroMBA and contributing editor at Clear Admit, he is co-founder and lead producer of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

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