Former New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam: Be Yourself – But be your bestself

At the Opening Ceremony of the academic year 2022 – 2023 of Hoa Sen University (HSU), Mr. Haike Manning – Former New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam sent the message: Always be yourself, with the best version. This is also the theme of the ceremony – Be yourself, But be your best self.

Hello Mr. Duong Anh Duc, Vice Chairman of HCMC People Committee, Mr Hoang Quoc Viet – Chairman of Nguyen Hoang Group, President VO THI NGOC THUY, Hoa Sen Faculty members, Distinguished Guests, Students & Parents.

Xin Chao!  It’s my great honour to join you today for the Opening Ceremony of the Academic Year at Hoa Sen.

A little bit about myself:

  • Originally from New Zealand – I have been living in Vietnam for 10 years now
  • I don’t speak Vietnamese, but I have recorded a Vietnamese song by Trinh Cong Son!
  • My wife is a leading voice on women leadership in Vietnam
  • My son is a fluent Vietnamese speaker
  • I trained as a lawyer.  My first career was as a Diplomat.  Now I am managing director of an international consulting business.

How many of you know what a Diplomat does?

A Diplomat represents their country internationally.  Supporting businesses, trade, building relationships with government and people in the country where they are working, promoting cultural understanding, supporting peace and security.  I did this for 20 years, in many parts of the world from India to China to Brazil and finally in Vietnam.  It was an amazing and privileged career. In my job, I met Presidents, Prime Ministers, spiritual leaders, famous movie stars, billionaires, and top businesspeople.

Mr. Haike Manning – Former New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam was speaking at the ceremony.

How did I get there?

Well, first off, it wasn’t always my dream to be a Diplomat.  When I started university, like you are now, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do once I graduated. At first, I thought I would study accounting.  Then I studied Japanese.  Then I gave that up and studied law instead. It was only after about 4 years at university that I started to think “hey, being a Diplomat could be interesting!”. So, my first reflection to you today is this:  it’s ok if you haven’t yet decided what comes next after university – what your first job might be. Don’t rush into a decision – you have time!

The second reflection I wish to share with you is this:

As you get older, it is easy to get swept along by everything going on around you.  The pace of life seems to be speeding up year by year. As you gain power and influence, it is easy to be distracted by things like status and money. This is why it is so important to be yourself, and to be your best self.

Mr. Haike Manning and consul generals of countries at the ceremony

What does this mean to me? To me, this means three things:

  1. Be humble.  Always treat people with respect.  Treat people the way you yourself would like to be treated.
  2. Be open and be curious.  Always keep learning.   Never assume you know everything – you don’t!
  3. Act with purpose.  Think about how what you do contributes to the community you live in.   We all go through this life together.

The third and final reflection I want to offer is to appreciate the good things in life: your friends, family, a good conversation, nature. The author James Clear – who is an excellent modern thinker – puts it this way: “For those who expect everything, there are many curses. For those who appreciate everything, there are many blessings”.

Dear Students, it is such an exciting time to be a young Vietnamese – and to be a new university student.  Trust me: These days there is a lot of international attention and excitement about Vietnam so you will have many opportunities in the coming years – not just here in Vietnam but also around the world. In the meantime:  Study hard, have fun, and always remember to be your best self.

All the best!

Mr. Haike Manning
Former New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam

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