SINGAPORE - Join us in welcoming the newest member of the Grow Asia team. Somang Yang is Grow Asia's new Country Partnerships Manager for the Mekong region and she has been busy since joining the team in early October. Keep reading to learn more about the experience she brings to the role, and to see pictures from her recent field trips.
Q: Can you briefly describe your role and the experience you bring?
My role will be to support the country partnerships (and secretariats) in Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia. The most important aspect of that, in my opinion, is to ensure that each of the three country partnerships is broad-based in its membership and reflects the agricultural landscape and their goals are aligned with the national development strategy.
Prior to joining Grow Asia, I worked in public policy and advocacy roles for 8 years. I began my career as a business journalist before getting a Master's in Public Administration (MPA), after which I moved into public sector consulting and policy advocacy. So I have some insight into the priorities and perspectives of our IGO, corporate and civil society partners.
Q: Your first official day with Grow Asia was spent at the Practitioners' Workshop in Jakarta! What was your biggest takeaway from the event?
The Practitioner's Workshop really drove home the importance of sharing best practices and learning from each other. Each of the country partnerships is different in structure and priorities, because they arise from a different set of circumstances. However, they are all confronting similar challenges as they try to scale up, and it is energizing to be able to talk to those who are going through the same experiences, and having candid conversations about it.
Q. Finally, what is something you would like everyone to know about your home country of South Korea?
I think South Korea is an interesting case study in agricultural and rural development, because it harnessed pre-existing community ties in the rural areas and let communities drive their own development (see Saemaul Undong), which complemented the national development strategy. My takeaway from this is that you should try to work with, rather than bypass, cultural or traditional networks and also align initiatives with the broader picture.
On a lighter note, it always amuses people to know that I hail from Gangnam (southern Seoul), since I'm a tomboy and a minimalist, so I have no Gangnam-style whatsoever!