REI-Vietnam News

Hoang Gia Thu Earns Doctorate from Portland State

by REI-Vietnam |

Image: Hoang Gia Thu Earns Doctorate from Portland State
Thu, Quynh Anh and Ben at graduation

A little history on Thu

Those of us in REI who met Thu in 2004 at Hanoi University (see 2 pictures below) recognized then that he was an exceptional young man. Just 27 at the time, he had people skills, character and maturity beyond his years. As Dean of the Business and Tourism Department at Hanoi University, he welcomed REI’s Business Education Team. To this day, the REI’s Business Education Weeks (spring and fall) continue to thrive because of the solid foundation laid by Thu and then President Vang. The program now continues with the commitment of President Luan and Business Department Chair, Mrs. Ha Lan.

Thu, Tom and Del Thu with businessman Del Goehnor and Business Team leader Tom Knighton Tom and Thu on Motorbike

Thu transports Tom on his motorbike

Thu was preparing to apply for a scholarship for a PhD from the Australian Leadership Award (ALA) when he met Chris Runckel, who had been a lead negotiator for the US in the preparation for the normalization between the US and Vietnam in the early 1990’s and who has helped hundreds of businesses from the US, EU and Asia to do global business. Chris, a Portland native, offered to introduce Thu to several people at Portland State to see if there could be a match for Thu there. As events unfolded, Thu was eventually awarded a scholarship to the Portland program.

Thu's current goals

Today with his newly acquired training, Thu hopes to invest in others by training in research in Industrial Organizational Psychology, Human Resource Management, and Organizational Behaviors in the university setting. He also hopes to work with Vietnamese companies and organizations, both public and private, to help them in Human Resource Management which includes improving selection and training processes, motivating their employees, developing leaders and improving their jobs and working conditions. Getting the right people in the right positions, training them well and developing them will increase job productivity and satisfaction, making the whole company more successful.

Personal highlights while in the US

Some personal highlights for Thu while in the US included marrying the lovely Nguyen Vu Quynh Anh whom he met while teaching at Hanoi University. Quynh Anh is also a very gifted and talented young woman. She graduated from Hanoi University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and was selected for the Management Trainee Program with Unilever in HCMC. It was while working with Unilever that she married Thu and subsequently joined him in Portland. Their son Minh Gia Hoang (called Ben in the US) was born while they were in the US. After getting Ben acclimated to his homeland and settled in preschool Quynh Anh also plans to resume her career.

An annual wilderness backpacking trip each summer (see pictures below) brought a little diversion from Thu’s heavy course of study. Dr. Asa Barnes, Medical Director Emeritus for REIVN, and Brian Teel, Director of REI-Vietnam were companions together on the hikes in New Mexico and Colorado. “I loved the experience and treasure every minute of it, “ said Thu.

Hikers The three amigos Thu and Ace

Thu and Dr. Asa Barnes

Thu and Quynh enjoyed visits and home stays with other REI people while they were in the US. Cliff and Judy Fenlason (see pictures below) from Seattle were with Thu and Quynh Anh at Benjamin’s birth as well as attended Thu’s graduation. Other REI friends include Chuck and Sharon Steen, Tom and Joanie Knighton, Del and Elaine Goehner, Carol and Bob Wattles, Don and Lassie Colebourne, and John and Rita Kay Scruton-Wilson. Building strong relational ties is a high value in the REI culture.

In Seattle Thu, Quynh Anh, Cliff and Judy Fenlason in front of Seattle Skyline Cliff and Judy at grad

REI’s hope for Thu and his family

REI wishes Thu, Quynh and Ben the very best as they resume their lives and work in Vietnam. Thu and Quynh Anh represent well the noble hearted people of Vietnam who gain knowledge and pass it on by investing in the next generation. We are privileged to know Thu and Quynh Anh and believe they will continue to be catalysts for growth in Vietnam. They exemplify REI’s vision of “Building People to Build a Nation.” Coming full circle, REI welcomes Thu as a presenter in REI’s Business Education week in October of this year.

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