Jenny Kong has been a volunteer with the Hong Kong YWCA for 13 years and has served on the organisation's board of directors since 2012. To complement her expertise in banking and finance, she wanted to enhance her knowledge of governance at Harvard Business School's (HBS) Governing for Non-profit Excellence programme. She shares her thoughts about the programme’s people, learning environment, and content.

Why did you choose to apply to this programme, and what were your objectives?

Governance for non-profit organisations is not a well-known area of study in Hong Kong. Therefore, as a board member of a major NGO, I took part in the programme to gain more in-depth knowledge in this area. I did not have any specific objectives at the beginning. But after receiving the reading material and seeing that the issues from the cases can arise in both non-profit and for-profit governance, I was eager to learn the difference in governing the two types of organisations. 

What surprised you most about the experience?

I was most surprised by the case study method. I was inspired by the interactions between professors and participants during the lectures as well as the "Eureka!" moments I experienced while discussing and debating the cases.

What is your overall impression of the programme as an international participant?

As an international participant from Asia, I think the programme provided many opportunities to express opinions and views during the group discussions and the lectures. Through both classroom and small-group interactions, I was exposed to the various opinions and views of the diverse group of marvellous participants.

The programme's participants came from 18 countries, and this diversity broadened my horizons. I met people I would never have encountered in the non-profit field in Hong Kong. By interacting with them, I gained precious knowledge about how they tackled their own problems. The insights they shared were not only eye-opening but also very useful in addressing issues inside my own organization. I truly appreciated the sincere and open exchange of ideas among participants.

What are the biggest challenges facing your organisation today?

The Hong Kong YWCA has established almost a hundred years ago with the goal of providing women with education and parenting skills. Today, my organization offers a much wider range of social services to the community, from kindergarten to high school education, and from youth to elderly services. Apart from that, we have engaged in programmes involving women's empowerment, family wellness, and social enterprise. We also operate a hostel that can accommodate over 200 guests. We have our mission, vision, and values—but our key challenge is to focus on what's next:
What is the path we should take to bring this hundred-year-old NGO brand into the 21st century?
How can we best apply our funding to meet our goals and objectives?
What is the public perception of our name?
How can we make the best of our reputation and resources? 

How has your experience in the programme helped you to tackle these challenges?

I learned the importance of an organisation's mission, which is summarized in the fundamental question, "What are we trying to accomplish?" My time at HBS gave me the tools and insights to rethink the Hong Kong YWCA's overall purpose, strategy, performance, and integrity.

What advice would you give to future participants?

Enjoy the programme with participants from different backgrounds. Talk with them as much as possible. And be inspired by them.