Interview with Tien Phat Nguyen and Ana Filipa Geraldo: Young Executive Leaders 2023

Date:  22 November 2023

We asked Tien Phat (Becamex International Hospital, Vietnam) and Ana Filipa Geraldo (Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal) to share their thoughts on his experience as participants in the YEL 2023 programme, including their time at the World Hospital Congress in Lisbon, Portugal.

How did you come to apply, and be selected, for the YEL programme?

Tien Phat: I consider myself an individual driven by a passion for exploration and pushing boundaries. I constantly seek opportunities that extend beyond my local scope. In 2018, I led the youngest team to receive an Excellence Award at Hospital Management Asia (I was 25 years old at the time). This success fuelled my determination to aim higher. That led me to discover that the IHF, a global community for healthcare professionals, not just Asia, was offering the YEL programme. Realizing there had been no previous Vietnamese participants, I saw an opportunity to fill that gap – and I did become the first Vietnamese in this global YEL community.

Ana Filipa: I first heard about the YEL programme four years ago, when a friend of mine was selected for the 2019 cohort. I followed his social media posts about the YEL activities and I found them very appealing. Subsequently, I searched on the IHF website to gather more information about the programme and secretly waited for the best moment to apply. In early 2023, during the last call, I realized that I was at the upper age limit of the ideal candidate of the programme and it was probably my last chance. Therefore, although at that time I had recently become a mom for the second time, with my family’s support I was able to submit my application and complete most of the programme during my maternity leave.


Did any particular masterclasses have a strong impact on you, make you reflect or make changes to your leadership activities?

Tien Phat:”Leading self” masterclass has been an eye-opening journey, unlocking numerous reflections within me. It’s been a reminder of the paramount importance of understanding ourselves and recognizing the influence we make, not just on others but on the organization as a whole. I’ve come to understand that striving to excel in every aspect isn’t feasible. It’s more about harnessing the strengths of others, fostering trust, and shifting from “power over” others to “power with” the people. We don’t need to be “the expert” to lead the team. It’s about growing and evolving together as a team for united goals.

Ana Filipa: The YEL2023 programme included 10 different interactive, online masterclasses, focusing on diverse relevant topics, from “managing self” to health finance. Among them, the one that had a strongest impact on me was the “Navigating Net Zero in Healthcare”, not only due to the relevance of the topic but also because it was how I first heard about the Geneva Sustainability Centre. A recently established, IHF-related structure, it supports hospitals and healthcare services “to address the sustainability challenges of today and tomorrow”. Indeed, it provides guides, toolboxes, and glossaries on the topic easily every healthcare leader can use and provides workshops and training on the topic.

How did you find working with a group of peers with different international perspectives on your small project?

Tien Phat: The diverse perspectives brought fresh ideas and approaches to the table, offering unique insights that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. It was fascinating to witness how cultural differences influenced problem-solving and decision-making processes and how things are achieved. This experience also remind me that, irrespective of our positions, we all grapple with emotions, biases, and the impact of how we’re treated, a crucial reflection in effective leadership. Initially, there was certain distance in our interactions during the initial meetings. However, as time progressed, we forged strong bonds, culminating in meaningful friendships, particularly when we finally met in Lisbon.

Ana Filipa: My YEL2023 working group was formed by 5 members, from different countries and professional backgrounds, that I now consider as dear colleagues. Team work can be challenging, especially if group members do not know each other, live at different latitudes and have busy agendas, such was the case. However, we have used numerous platforms and communication tools that facilitated interactions, helped us to get to know each other, and kept us motivated and in track. Technology is out there to facilitate our lives! I would also recommend future group members to give a deep thought in the initial steps, namely deciding the specific topic as early as possible, and agreeing on how to organize and divide work amongst the different members and the specific deadlines.

Tell us about your experience attending the World Hospital Congress

Tien Phat: Participating in the World Hospital Congress was truly eye-opening. I was immersed in critical themes in healthcare management and resilience, gaining exposure to individuals who actively shape the healthcare landscape. Having the opportunity to engage in discussions with these influential people allowed me to gain invaluable insights. Additionally, being part of new initiatives geared towards enhancing global healthcare was both empowering and motivating. It broadened my perspective and underscored the significance of collaborative efforts for the betterment of healthcare worldwide.

Ana Filipa: The 2023 World Hospital Congress was held in Lisbon, and Portugal is my home country. Therefore, although I currently live in Porto (the second major city that lies at a 3 hours train distance from Lisbon), I had the advantage of “playing at home”. Nevertheless, the congress environment was so multicultural that I got to see the city through a different lens. Plus, I was able to use my insight knowledge as a local to welcome and support my international colleagues in the best possible way and try to make their experience memorable. Concerning the congress itself, the week started with a full-day YEL workshop followed by the graduation ceremony, and this was the moment where all YEL2023 colleagues met in person for the first time. We were also able to meet previous YEL alumni and to directly approach well-establish international healthcare leaders. The congress itself was very well-organized and included a diverse programme, allowing the interactions with other leaders and mind-alike people, and favouring learning through sharing experiences. On the side of the congress, there were many social activities, including a YEL group dinner kindly supported by one of the programme partners.

What you think being a YEL graduate will bring you (professionally or personally)?

Tien Phat: Personally, I’ve had the opportunities to connect with wonderful friends from various corners of the world. It’s incredible how we share similar concerns and values, making conversations and having fun. Engaging with the people has alleviated many of the deep-seated thoughts that had troubled me for quite some time. It feels like I was having mood therapy! On a professional level, I’m fortunate to be backed by a network of exceptional healthcare professionals. This network has not only boosted my confidence but has also empowered me to navigate through numerous challenges back in my home hospital. Continued engagement with fellow YEL alumni on Whatsapp has been invaluable as well. Our discussions span diverse topics, ranging from dissecting consulting job descriptions for potential roles in our hospital to strategizing adjustments within organizational charts at a higher level. YEL is one of the best things that has happened to me. I know I would reach further from this!

Ana Filipa: The YEL programme allowed me to gain a deep insight into major healthcare and management/leadership topics that successful future leaders will need to master, such as healthcare sustainability, cybersecurity, big data, and telehealth. It has also provided me a unique networking opportunity, including not only the YEL2023 colleagues that were selected from more than 30 different countries, but also previous YEL students, programme speakers, and sponsors. Importantly, this international network will hopefully remain during our career journey, as after graduation we gain access to the exclusive YEL alumni network, a selective group of young leaders that will shape the future of healthcare organizations. Being part of this international network facilitates continuous learning, innovation, and multicentre collaborative projects and it also provides great opportunities, including serving in the steering committee of the IHF YEL programme or become a YEL Alumni Ambassador.

Thank you, Tien Phat and Ana Filipa for answering our questions and for being part of such a collaborative, engaging, and rewarding YEL 2023 programme!

Becamex International Hospital, Vietnam

Tien Phat Nguyen

Deputy Head of Operations
Young Executive Leaders 2023

IHF Member: Becamex International Hospital, Vietnam. General operations of a 300-bed hospital, passionate to “do more with less” for the patient via analytics and data.

Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho (CHVNG/E), Portugal

Dr Ana Filipa Geraldo da Silva Couceiro

Division Chief Diagnostic Neuroradiology
Young Executive Leaders 2023

IHF Member: Portuguese Association for Hospital Development (APDH), Portugal. Division chief of the Diagnostic Neuroradiology Unit, holding several other positions in the field of neuroradiology.

Written by:

Karen Cabuyao

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