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Expanding REI's Impact in Business

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

Consider physical fitness. Is it better to train a few Olympic athletes, or to help a multitude of people raise their fitness level up a notch? Makes an interesting table conversation, and one’s opinion will depend on his or her perspective and values. Here at REI, while working with business students we seek to do both. We continue to give general business-specific presentations to interested university students, but also have a far more in-depth program, our Advanced Management Competency Certificate (AMCC), to a select group. This fall our AMCC program expanded to the Foreign Trade University in Ho Chi Minh City.

Welcome, REI, to Foreign Trade University HCMC, site of REI's second AMCC program!

The long-term impact of November’s REI Business Team has yet to be measured, but preliminary feedback from our partner universities has been encouraging. This fall we brought several veteran volunteers to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and also several presenters who were serving with us here for the first time. Led by Dr. Cheryl Meredith and assisted by Loren Lancaster, our other team members included first-timers Kathryn Turner, Terry McHugh, Janet Kang, and Dave Stott, accompanied by his wife Maureen, as well as veterans James Kang (Janet’s husband), Gail Flanders Jones, and Merrily Madero.

Merrily assumed the leadership of our AMCC program earlier this year. Our first cohort of students from Hanoi University (HANU) graduated from the 2-year program last spring (congratulations, y’all!), and this fall saw the continuation of the second cohort at HANU and the launch of our first cohort at Foreign Trade University HCM (often referred to as FTU2), the second university to participate in this program.

The offerings of the AMCC program follow a carefully designed course of study. Students are expected to do preliminary reading and coursework, and are given homework assignments as well—unlike our regular, non-AMCC presentations, where students participate without before-and-after assignments. AMCC material was presented on “Mapping Culture for Business Breakthrough,” “Entrepreneurship,” “Leadership,” “Mastering Time Management,” “International Business Communication,” “Reporting and Analysis,” “Building Effective Teams,” “Financial Plans and Forecasting,” “The Art of Negotiation,” and so forth.

As you may imagine, this is a lot of work! But we believe that the edge that this program gives the participating students will enable them to move forward in their careers, whether in a corporate or entrepreneurial context. We are also optimistic that the modeling of our volunteer experts of giving back to the community will motivate the students to consider doing the same, and not simply see this in-depth teaching as a means for personal gain only.

One of the highlights of our time at HANU was the opening ceremony, where Professor Trang shared for a few minutes about a different REI program. Trang participated in a recent REI Exchange Program in the USA, which took place from late September to mid-October this year and was featured in our “Family News” in October. A brief paraphrase of what she shared follows: “I thought I would learn about better business practices and how to teach more effectively. And I did learn those things. But what I really learned was about love. My hosts really cared about me as a person, and not as a project. Their loving care has profoundly impacted my life.”

REI’s deep desire is to significantly impact lives, both professionally and personally. Our AMCC program, now at two universities, as well as our regular business presentations at another eleven universities, and evening presentations at two business venues, serve as vehicles to bring about this professional impact. We see too, that the personal investment in the lives of friends and partners such as Trang is also having a personal impact. “Bringing professional help and personal hope” has long been one of our mantras. It is satisfying to see this coming about, as we continue building people to build nations!

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