Nguyen Ha Phuong
MSc in Project Management, UCD
Nguyen Ha Phuong was supported by the Irish Aid IDEAS Programme for Vietnam to study MSc in Project Management at University College Dublin for 2013-14.
Before I came to Ireland I was working in the programme team of the Vietnam Education Foundation. This is an independent federal agency created by the U.S. Congress to provide opportunities for Vietnamese nationals to pursue graduate and postgraduate studies in the United States, as well as bringing U.S. citizens to teach in Vietnam. We were involved in selecting candidates for the fellowships and administering and supporting fellowship recipients in the U.S. The focus of the programme is on Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine and last year it was supporting over 450 Vietnamese fellows.
When I saw the list of courses for Irish Aid fellowships, I immediately knew that I loved the idea of Project Management from a business perspective because the tools and knowledge are very practical. In my job, I have been mainly learning about the management of projects through assisting international consultants and my managers, but I haven’t had formal training. This course is particularly relevant as it examines projects in their entirety and analyses all the elements for success.
From an academic point of view, having a chance to study in an English-speaking country has been a fantastic opportunity. The learning environment is student-centred with lots of interaction between students and teachers, with a lot of independent research, study and critical reflection.
The education I am receiving at UCD is of immense benefit to my future development, both professionally and personally. With this course, I can see the bigger picture and learn all the aspects of managing projects. I couldn’t be happier with the course.
When I return to Vietnam I will have much more confidence in the workplace. I now possess the tools, resources and techniques that I’ll need when I initiate or monitor a project. Also, formally studying ethics, which is a core topic in project management, has been new for me. Now I have a much deeper knowledge of it in an international context. Without the course I wouldn’t have achieved that. Hopefully I will be able to share what I have learnt with others.
In the future, I hope education in Vietnam will be able to adopt a more student-centred approach. At my college, I was in a class of almost 150 students and obviously it wasn’t possible for the teacher to listen to everyone. The facilities and infrastructure of a developing country like Vietnam mean that class size is an issue. We are only independent for 40 years and there are a lot of things we are building from scratch. Also, I would like to see more international students coming to Vietnam because it’s difficult to have a diverse, international environment in the classroom right now.
At a personal level, I hope to be managing an educational project one day where I can bring my international experience to Vietnam and also bring students opportunities to learn good study techniques. There’s a deep sense of gratification when you don’t just work for the sake of income or profit but where you really get to know many young and bright students and you can hear their stories about how opportunities changed their perceptions and viewpoints. You can really feel the impact of the job. When you are working to support people you get good things in return.