In 2016, my wife and I committed to exploring a new country every year for vacation. This decision has been consistently upheld since then. In 2018, we chose Bangkok, Thailand as our holiday destination. At the time, I held a position as a board member at an international NGO in Uganda.
Curious about the NGO’s presence in Thailand, I conducted online research and discovered their extensive operations there. With the chairman’s approval, I planned to visit their office during my trip. Before departure, I gathered information about key personnel, including the executive director and other directors. I reached out to them, informing them of my visit and proposing a meeting to discuss our respective programs, challenges, and potential collaboration opportunities. To me, it’s acceptable to allocate one or two days out of a seven-day vacation for professional development and networking. Global connections offer numerous opportunities, allowing you to meet remarkable individuals instantly.
A day before my trip, I received confirmation in an email, that the CEO would be travelling to the United States during my visit. Nonetheless, I have assured a meeting with other senior executives. To my delight, they welcomed not only me but also my wife. During our time in Bangkok, we toured the NGO’s headquarters, where I was given 30 minutes to present on effective strategy effectiveness, lessons from Uganda and explored areas of mutual interest. We were graciously treated to lunch and established valuable connections with top leaders, some of whom endure to this day. Although they offered us the use of an official car for transportation, our time in Thailand was unfortunately limited, and we regretted not visiting earlier.
Many individuals in senior leadership positions possess valuable skills but fail to leverage them effectively. I’ve encountered parliament members who travel only to isolate themselves in hotel rooms or engage in leisure activities. These missed opportunities hinder the creation of beneficial connections for their respective countries. For frequent travellers with specialized skills, I recommend seeking out like-minded individuals during trips. Consider reaching out to universities or hospitals in advance to offer a Probono talk. After all, there’s nothing lost if they don’t respond.
Many people get opportunities to travel but never tap into them fully. Sometime in 2016, I decided with my wife to travel for a holiday to a country every year just to explore and enjoy life. It is something we have done religiously since then. In 2018, we decided to travel to Bangkok Thailand. At the time, I served as a board member at one of the international NGOs operating in Uganda.
I searched online to determine whether the NGO had a presence in Thailand. I discovered they had one of the largest operations there. I informed the Board chairman of my visit and planned to visit the office if time allowed which he did not object to. I searched for the key people. I got the details about the executive director and the other directors. I informed them of my Thailand holiday visit and travel itinerary. I requested an appointment to visit the office and share experiences about our programming, challenges and possibilities of project collaboration.
A day before my trip, I received an email acknowledging receipt of my email. The only problem the CEO was travelling out to the United States but was assured of meeting the other senior executives during my visit. They asked me to feel free to visit with my wife! I was elated. While in Bangkok, we visited the NGO’s head offices. The place is so big, with lots of activities. I visited the top leaders, made a presentation on strategy execution and explored areas of mutual interest. We were hosted to lunch and made fantastic connections with top leaders, some of the connections I continue to benefit from to date. They even offered us an official car to move us around the city, but unfortunately, our time in Thailand was coming to an end in a day. We wished we had visited earlier.
Many people hold senior leadership positions, and have great skills but do not know how to optimize them. I have met members of parliament who travel only to lock themselves in their hotel rooms or to visit cinema halls to watch movies or spend time at the beaches! Those are lost opportunities to create winning connections for the country. If you are a frequent traveller and have specialist skills. Try to meet people of similar interests when you travel. A month or so before your trip, write to the University or hospital and offer a Probono talk! After all, you lose nothing when they don’t respond.
When the opportunity to travel knocks, how do you prepare to make the most of it?