Meet the LGBTQ MBA Fellows: Darren Le
The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and active ally MBAs in full-time programs. Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year (or $20,000 total for his/her/their two years) in addition free access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBTQ mentors, digital programming, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows. Since the inception of the ROMBA Fellowship 129 students have received over US$6.2M in scholarship support from participating schools.
This fall Reaching Out welcomed the third class of the ROMBA Fellows. These 56 fellows come from 35 top business schools and over the next month we’ll introduce each of them to you.
41 MBA programs will be part of the Fellowship for the 2017-2018 application cycle. To learn about the Fellowship and let schools know of your interest here.
MEET DARREN LE (UC BERKELEY, HAAS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS)
Hello all, I’m Darren and I have grown up in three countries with different degrees of LGBT rights: Vietnam – once conservative but opening-up country, Sweden – the flagship in LGBT rights, and Singapore – economically developed but socially religious and conservative society. Born in a small town in Vietnam, I responded to the struggle of my identity with renewed determination to win the scholarship to National University of Singapore in Economics major. While the school cultivated a fair environment for everyone, life outside in Singapore was much more challenging for “people-like-us”. I continued searching for inspiration while attending the Engineering Management program at Swedish Royal Institute of Technology. There in Sweden, I joined the LGBT rugby team ‘Stockholm Berserker’ – the experience that changed my life. From my captain, a proud married entrepreneur, I drew real courage and inspiration to have pride in my identity and develop a positive outlook. Coming back to Singapore, I joined LGBT dragon-boat team Utama, volunteered for Publicity team in Pink-Dot movement, and were advocating for better understanding of LGBT community at my company – Garena. the unicorn tech start-up of South East Asia. Throughout that life-defining journey, I learned a hard lesion that our rights are never given, they can only be earned. An economically and politically stronger LGBT community will push the movement forward – and this is why I am looking forward to build a long-lasting relationship with all of ROMBA. Together we will build a stronger LGBT community.
What made you consider business school?
To develop further in Product Management career and to prepare for my future business venture in Technology. This is why I applied to Haas.
What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?Gaining an enormous knowledge and skills through intensive coursework, student activities, projects and internship is the first thing that I look forward to. Second, I hope to build a long-lasting and meaningful relationship in these two-years.
Who are some of the leaders (in the LGBTQ community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?
I admire my ex-captain in Stockhom LGBT rugby team Peter Sahlstrom for his courage and positive thinking which had great influence in me. In business, my boss Forrest Li – founder of the biggest Internet company in South East Asia is my role model on how we should lead people with integrity.
What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
The craziest thing I have ever done was participating in No-Pants Subway Ride in Stockholm 2011: by being bottomless in the middle of harsh winter. I was a bit shy when people started asking me why, but I was delightedly surprised by how people reacted. Two policemen after inquiring my group decided to take photos with us. The lesson here is: we may be surprised with people’s kindness if we do it in a right way, and we will never know until we try.