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 in Sydney and received his tourism management certificate in 1993. He has also undertaken coursework at the prestigious International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland in High Performance Leadership. Jimmy's professional background in tourism and hospitality management brought him back to Vietnam operating a tour 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 which provides 24-month intensive training program in life skills, English language and restaurant hospitality for highly marginalised and at-risk youth, 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 Jimmy received the James Strong Outstanding Leadership Award (International Customer Service Professionals) and in 2009 he was a finalist for the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year. The same year he also participated at the World Economic Forum's New Champions summit, the foremost global business leaders gathering in Asia. In 2011 Jimmy was again acknowledged by the World Economic Forum, this time as a Young Global Leader for his social enterprise work. Jimmy 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 broadcast on Australia Network, VTV in Veitnam and Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen in Germany. A documentary was also produced by the ABC called Jimmy's Kitchen which aired to an audience of millions.
Jimmy is a member of the board of directors for the Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion, (CSIP) a Vietnamese NGO which mentors, incubates and funds social enterprises. Jimmy has also spoken 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 on civil society development for future leaders.
Jimmy was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia 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 to be the recipient of the fifth ILGA Award, a very honorable award given by ILGA Foundation in Korea to recognise the contributions of people around the world who work towards a better development of Asia and its people.
KOTO stands for 'Know One, Teach One' and underlies Jimmy's philosophy. 'To be successful means giving back,' he says. 'KOTO instills 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?'
Client Comments for Jimmy Pham
Jimmy Pham travels from Vietnam
- Jimmy was a very engaging speaker. A unique and inspiring story. The audience was visibly moved by his stories of hardship and struggle.
- Jimmy was wonderful, he really hit the right note with our attendees and bringing the kids in the KOTO program with him was a great addition. We had a lot of questions to Jimmy and the kids which was great. Our client was thrilled with his presentation; everyone was talking about it for days after and were really touched by his story and particularly hearing from the kids themselves that are taking part in the program. The best part was that his presentation really reinforced our theme of 'Many Voices, One Team'.
- The KOTO Story