Your success starts here: Naratevy Kek
“Every Hinrich scholar has extreme empathy toward their world. They make constant efforts to enrich the lives of their country, their team and the environment they inhabit.”
On the way to success
“Success, for me is maximizing one’s potential in a meaningful way,” says Naratevy “Tevy” Kek for whom achieving success is a constant endeavor. She feels she is still on the road to success and is striving hard each day to step closer to it.
Tevy’s heart beats for Cambodia, her birth country, and she finds extreme satisfaction in utilizing her education to help empowerment of marginalized or vulnerable communities toward positive societal change.
A loyalist to the core
Under the Hinrich Global Trade Leader Development Program, Tevy earned a Master of Arts degree in International Journalism Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU). Upon her graduation in 2012, she worked as an Export Manager for the Hinrich Foundation, helping local handicraft suppliers to increase their export sales through online marketing support, trade shows, bazaars and enhanced communication with buyers.
She has been in media and communication for 10 years, working with a number of international organizations such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), ActionAid and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on environmental protection and climate change adaptation.
Tevy is extremely clear about her commitment to contribute to her country of birth, Cambodia. She is currently working as Communications Coordinator for Oxfam in Cambodia.
Creativity with compassion
Tevy strongly feels for the vulnerable people in her country. As an Export Manager for the Hinrich Foundation’s Export Trade Assistance Program in Cambodia, her job was to help small and medium scale suppliers in the handicraft sector to increase their export sales. The objective was to increase employment opportunity for the underprivileged producers, most of whom were deaf, mute, victims of polio and landmine accidents, widows, or young children who were unskilled and needed to establish livelihood.
With maximum support on the marketing side, there was an increase of buyers and Tevy and her team were instrumental in doubling the number of charity bazaars in Hong Kong that the Foundation participated in, from four in 2013 to eight in 2014.
“It was an opportunity for me to learn, exchange and help people at the same time. There was a toiletry kit, one of eleven types of silk items that a customer from Australia had ordered. It took me a year and half to get this order. It took the buyer one year to test the quality of the product, but she came back with high satisfaction and placed an order for twice a year and we received repeated orders from that time,” said Tevy.
As such, she feels that her most valuable contribution to date has been to create employment for a lot of people who needed the work and to bring the producers and buyers together.
At the helm of communications
Now, as Communications Coordinator for Oxfam in Cambodia, she is at the helm of the organization’s communications plan and messaging. She supports the team on gathering materials for stories and producing high-quality and coherent leaflets, press release materials and other communications and activities targeting specific audiences. Her role also involves handling media inquiry and preparing her teammates to fit the role of a media spokesperson. In addition, she manages the organization’s website and does content planning for Oxfam on social media.
Having supported Cambodia’s development since 1979, Oxfam is the first international nongovernmental organization (INGO) operating inside the country during the post-Khmer Rouge period. It has been working alongside Cambodians and the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) for nearly four decades, introducing programs and interventions to suit the transforming nature, and economic and social development of Cambodia.
Tevy said that Oxfam has supported a wide range of development programs on transformative livelihood, effective humanitarian relief and disaster preparedness, good governance and civic engagement, climate resilient agriculture and exports, savings-led microfinance, national financing for development, and economic empowerment and transformative leadership for women.
“I’m proud to be part of this organization and team, to join a community of like-minded individuals who are committed to the mission of eradicating poverty,” said Tevy.
Thinking out of the box
Tevy regards the achievement of a campaign called “JuiKnia, Cambodia – Migration Stories of Hope” to be one of her most cherished winning moments while working for Oxfam. The campaign’s objective was to mobilize Cambodia’s diverse community to join hands and send a message to world leaders to open hearts and doors to refugees through signing online petitions/letters of support and personal storytelling both online and offline. The goal of the campaign was to obtain 10,000 signatures in four weeks.
“The campaign was launched on March 31, 2017. In the first week we managed [to collect] only 300 signatures. At that time, the target of 10,000 signatures seemed pretty unreachable and looking at the trend of the ensuing two weeks we didn’t expect much. However, in the last week, the team and I decided that we needed to employ a different strategy. We realized that the internet and advertising on social media was not for Cambodia. We took to the streets.”
“We worked with several youth groups, went to the streets of Phnom Penh and about 10 other provinces and talked to people about the campaign and manually collected responses. We realized that the common man on the streets did not understand digital media. We also shared the campaign posters on tuk-tuks and other media to spread the word. To our utter surprise, the campaign gathered 47,685 signatures, exceeding the goal of 10,000 signatures by almost four times.
“Oxfam has already sent the letter with all of the signatures to embassies based in Cambodia. It was a proud moment for my team and me. We did not lose hope till the very end. We thought out of the box and turned things around in the final week,” an exultant Tevy recalled.
Synergy of Skills
“A good team needs to understand each other and use different skills and strategies to complement each other in order to achieve common goals.”
Tevy feels that a good team has an open channel of communication and shares their experiences to derive learning from them. She is extremely proud of her team that ran the JuiKnia campaign for Oxfam Cambodia where they exceeded their target of 10,000 signatures.
“We did not lose hope. We came up fighting. We worked together. There were times when we worked day and night because the global team worked opposite hours to our regular work day and there were things we needed to complete,” she recalled. It was a credit to the team that by the end of the campaign, they had garnered 47,685 signatures instead of the 10,000 they were targeting.
A classroom without walls
“I feel extreme gratitude for many people who helped me along the way. For my parents who always encouraged me to continue my education, especially higher education. And to the Hinrich Foundation for providing me the opportunity to learn and get involved in trade and help people in need back in my country.”
Tevy feels that the Hinrich Foundation helped her build a network that still works for her. Besides being a great opportunity for learning, what really impacted her were the field experiences. “The real-life experience on how to market, how to manage supply chains [and] how to talk to buyers will remain etched forever in my memory.”
Seeking visibility through own identity
Tevy loves to work in media and communications. In her experience, this role significantly contributes to achieving the organization goal. She hopes to continue working in this field and establish her own identity further within Oxfam in order to help the organization reach more and more people in need.
Clarity of mission
Tevy emphasizes clarity of mission as the most dominant trait that a participant in the Hinrich Global Trade Leader Development Program needs to cultivate. “The scholars need to foresee what they want to do and what they will do,” is her clear advice to them. In her opinion, a Hinrich scholar learns not only from the course but also from the people around them and from the diverse cultures they are exposed to during the program.
One of the quotes that Tevy remembers from her time at HKBU was, “Don’t follow your own eyes and make assumptions, go and ask questions. What you and the others see may be different from each other — the truth may be complex.” She recalled learning this from Aernout Van Lynden, an international correspondent and editor for news agencies such as the BBC Radio and The Washington Post, who was one of the guest speakers while she was attending HKBU.
According to Tevy, the best way for scholars to approach their scholarship tenure would be to keep their minds open to influences.
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