Mr Jimmy Pham AM
Founder and CEO
Know One, Teach One (KOTO)
KOTO: A recipe for life success
Thursday 20 October 2016, 2.30pm
Jimmy Viet Tuan Pham emigrated with his mother and four older siblings from Vietnam in 1974, eventually settling in Australia in 1980. He studied at Hayton College (Sydney, Australia) and received his tourism management certificate in 1993. He has also undertaken coursework at the prestigious International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne (Switzerland), in high performance leadership.
Mr Pham’s professional background in tourism and hospitality management brought him back to Vietnam as a tour operator in 1996, where he witnessed the plight of at-risk youth on the streets of Hanoi. From a sandwich stall manned by nine street youth in 1999, KOTO has grown into an internationally respected and award-winning social enterprise that provides a 24-month intensive training program in life skills, English language and restaurant hospitality for highly marginalised and at-risk youth. The program is delivered through KOTO’s schools and training restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. There are typically two student intakes a year in each city and to date, KOTO has served and empowered nearly 500 graduates.
In 2006, Mr Pham received the James Strong Outstanding Leadership Award (International Customer Service Professionals). In 2009, he was a finalist for the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award; in the same year he participated at the World Economic Forum’s New Champions summit, the foremost global business leaders’ gathering in Asia. In 2011, Mr Pham was again acknowledged by the World Economic Forum, this time as a Young Global Leader for his social enterprise work.
Mr Pham and the KOTO team have been featured in media such as Reader’s Digest Asia, BBC News, CNN News and The New York Times, as well as broadcasts on Australia Network, VTV (Vietnam) and Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (Germany). A documentary was produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) called ‘Jimmy’s Kitchen’, which aired to an audience of millions. Mr Pham is a member of the board of directors for the Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP), a Vietnamese non-governmental organisation that mentors, incubates and funds social enterprises. He spoke at the 2012 TEDx Mekong on the impact of social enterprises in Vietnam and has developed and led training programs with CSIP and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) on civil society development for future leaders.
Mr Pham was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in January 2013, an honour acknowledging his significant service to the community, particularly with marginalised children and youth in Vietnam. In September 2013, he was chosen as the recipient of the 5th ILGA Award, an award presented by the ILGA Foundation in Korea to recognise the contributions of people around the world who work towards better development of Asia and its people.
In December 2013, he was a finalist in the 8th Asia Democracy and Human Right Award of the Taiwan Foundation of Democracy. He received the Social Innovation Award at the ZEROawards ceremony of UNICEF Vietnam. The award recognises people and organisations for their humanitarian work protecting children.
KOTO stands for ‘Know One, Teach One’ and underlines Mr Pham’s philosophy. “To be successful means giving back,” he said. “KOTO instils in the kids the idea of participatory community and asks in return that each of the KOTO trainees does the same. It really is asking ourselves: ‘Do we give someone a fish or do we teach them how to fish?’”