Hasanthi Dissanayake, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Viet Nam
Her Excellency Hasanthi Dissanayake has been Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Vietnam since August 2015, and has gained a reputation as one of the more innovative and engaged Ambassadors in Hanoi. Ambassador Dissanayake has served in a variety of roles in her 20 years in the Sri Lankan Foreign Service, including as Director General responsible for the Middle East and as Director of the UN Division. She has served as Consul General in Shanghai and has also been posted to Sweden, Japan and Rome.
Ambassador Dissanayake studied history and archaeology at university. Her first job was as a computer programmer – in 1987. She then worked for five years in the development field, with a focus on women, environment and disaster management issues, before joining the Sri Lankan Foreign Service. She has served as a Member of the National Advisory Committee on Climate Change, and also as a Member of the National Task Force on Trafficking of Women & Children.
Thao Griffiths, Policy Advisor, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)
Thao Griffiths is currently Policy Advisor to the Chairman of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Dr Vu Tien Loc who is a senior member of parliament. Griffiths is also known for her work up until 2016 as Country Director of Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), an American NGO focusing on humanitarian and development issues and US-Vietnam people-to-people diplomacy. Since March 2016, she serves as an inaugural member of the Advisory Committee of the Australian Government in Vietnam. Thao studied at the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Academy of Diplomacy and holds a Masters in Systems Engineering from RMIT University in Melbourne and a Masters in International Relations from American University in Washington DC. She has 18 years’ experience in management, security policy, public health, development, climate change, and IT related business. In the private sector, she worked with Boeing, Bombardier Inc., Planned Systems International PSI, VOXIVA Inc., Microsoft Asia Pacific, and Tetra Tech. She has been a GCSP Security Leadership Fellow (Switzerland), an Endeavour Fellow (Australia), a Fulbright scholar (US), and an inaugural Eisenhower Fellow (US) from Vietnam in 2013.
Irene has been based in Vietnam since 2012, and has focused on initiatives that inspire women to find their own paths, and to ignite their leadership. She is the co-author of a Book on Women Leaders, ‘Ba Trieu’s 21st Century Daughters’, the co-founder of the Women’s Story Telling Salon™, and has introduced the women leadership development programme Coming Into Your Own (CIYO) to Vietnam.
Irene’s truly global experience spans more than 20 years living and working as a certified coach and international facilitator across four continents in her country of origin (Austria), China, Brazil, New Zealand, and presently in Viet Nam.
Her Masters Degree in Sinology first brought her to China. There, in 2002, Irene became one of the first certified executive coaches working in Shanghai with Fortune 100 companies (in Mandarin).
In Brazil she continued advising as a China specialist, intercultural consultant and executive coach. There, in 2007, Irene also founded her own leadership development consultancy, iglobal Coaching ltd., which she later continued with new programmes for business and government agencies in New Zealand.
Each country and culture provided its own challenges and rewards; each move entailed deep reflections on how to best contribute to her new host country.