Life at Emerging Innovation: Kelsey Suski, Assistant Manager
Kelsey Suski joined Emerging Innovation in July 2015. Prior to joining the team, she worked with and education NGO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and taught English in Chongqing, China for two years. Currently based in Ho Chi Minh City, Kelsey’s focus in recent months has been to develop our presence in Vietnam and South East Asia.
How did you discover Emerging Innovation and what motivated you to join the team?
I found out about Emerging Innovation through idealist.com, a website that connects ‘for good’ organisations to employees, interns and volunteers. I’ve been actively working with development organisations since I was a teenager, and found Emerging Innovation’s social business model particularly interesting, as it is able to have a sustainable impact. Given my educational background in International Relations, my passion is developmental economics, and when I saw an internship posted online to write about enterprise solving challenges in emerging markets, I couldn’t wait to apply!
What purpose does your role serve in the bigger picture?
Working in developing countries in Asia, I have witnessed many of the unique challenges that these citizens face everyday. There is a common misconception that underdeveloped regions lack talent, but I’ve found that the absence of incentives and opportunities are primary causes. Being part of a platform like Emerging Innovation that facilitates dialog across emerging markets and connects innovators who can create opportunities in places that had none will generate long-term prosperity. Call me a dreamer, but I hope that within my lifetime, a young woman from a rural province in India will have as many opportunities to participate in the global marketplace as a young man from London.
How has your role impacted the way you engage with your city’ residents?
Most of my stories about Southeast Asia are from primary sources, so I have the opportunity to meet incredible people in my region. As a contributing writer, I am always seeking multiple viewpoints on issues, encouraging me to have conversations outside of my comfort zone with a wide-variety of people.
What were your initial impressions of working in such a small team, and how have those impressions changed over time?
I was surprised that it was so small when I first started, given Emerging Innovation’s significant presence on social media. Although having a small team stretches the bandwidth of each member, it also allows everyone to wear many different ‘hats’. One day I will interview an aspiring entrepreneur and the next day I will work on marketing and business development, so its never boring and I’m always gaining valuable experience.
How did your early years define your career path?
My parents encouraged me to be curious of places beyond my American borders and travel internationally. As a young adult, I participated two study abroad programs, first in high school and a second time in university. Immediately after graduating from university, I landed a job in China and haven’t left Asia since. I’ve always been interested in international affairs and working with Emerging Innovation allows me to pursue my passion and contribute to the development of emerging markets.
What consistent work routines do you keep?
While working remotely has an incredible amount of freedom and flexibility, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent schedule without an office or colleagues. Luckily, there are a number of coworking spaces in Ho Chi Minh City as well as many laptop-friendly cafés.
Do you think that sharing ideas is good for creativity?
Absolutely. Creativity isn’t a single idea created in a black box, but rather an accumulation of conversations over time. In order for creativity to be relevant, the creator needs to understand the context in which she works. People, especially entrepreneurs, shouldn’t be worried about sharing ideas for fear of having them stolen. A great idea is only a small part of the picture, actually executing the idea competently is the fundamental challenge.
How do you switch off work at the end of the day?
Ho Chi Minh City is an international city, so going out to eat is one of my favourite things to do after work. In addition to stellar Vietnamese cuisine from all over the country, there are many top-notch Japanese and French restaurants at unbeatable prices. I also like to keep fit, so I practice yoga on a weekly basis, and I recently started playing rugby. The city is centrally located in Southeast Asia, so I can easily travel if I need to switch off for an entire weekend!