Meet the Match

A Young Executive Wants to Get Vietnams Girls in the Game

As a child, Nga Le did not have to practice humility. Born in Hue, Vietnam, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Nga only knew humble circumstances, a result of the drastic changes in her family’s fortunes following the end of a two decade long war.

“My dad’s family was very rich before 1975 because they worked for the United States government,” Nga says. “After the war was over, the people who worked for the U.S. suffered for the next 20 years, and my mom and dad had to overcome a lot of difficulties.”

Although Nga’s family struggled to make ends meet, they were happy. Her parents always encouraged her to pursue her studies and make a better life for herself. As a result, Nga was driven to succeed, not only for herself, but also for her family and her hometown of Hue. From first through 12th grade, she finished among the top five students in her class, attending a prestigious local high school on scholarship, and becoming the first student from that school to attend Foreign Trade University, the top university in Vietnam.

Upon graduation, Nga found herself living in Ho Chi Minh City without any financial support and in desperate need of a job. After working for Jollibee Corporation in marketing and customer service positions, Nga had a conversation with a friend that changed the course of her professional life.

“I had a friend who was leaving her personal assistant job and suggested I take her place,” Nga says. “She introduced me to Connor Nguyen (CEO of XLE Group & Nga’s current employer). At the time, he was just a tennis coach who needed a personal assistant. But shortly after hiring me, he decided to open a sports academy. During the first year that I worked for him, the academy grew tremendously.”

Despite her lack of experience in the sports industry, Nga continued to excel in her role as an administrative assistant. She was soon promoted to office manager and then marketing lead at Saigon Sports Academy (SSA). When Nguyen started XLE Group, a sports entertainment company that oversees SSA, the Saigon Heat professional men’s basketball team, and the Vietnam University Games, he brought Nga on as his executive assistant. Since 2011, she has received four promotions, arriving at her current role as SSA sports business and operations director.

During her professional journey, Nga has fallen in love with sports, especially basketball. The game, the atmosphere, the sense of belonging, and the joy of teamwork are what keep Nga going during the hard late-night stretches and extensive travel. Nga believes that if more girls in Vietnam could be exposed to basketball and other sports at a young age, they would not only fall in love, but they would find new confidence, strength, and leadership abilities.

“Women in Vietnam need sport,” Nga says. “It is very underdeveloped in our country. There is still much discrimination between men and women. Men receive all the attention even though the women’s teams are winning and earning prizes. I want to learn from the United States, your model, so that we can develop sport and grow this type of atmosphere for girls and women in my country.”

By participating in the GSMP, Nga hopes to expand her sports business, marketing, and entertainment skills while learning from female American role models. There could be no greater fit for Nga than Val Ackerman and Ann Wells Crandall at the Big East. Val is an American icon in the basketball world, promoting the sport at every level – collegiately, professionally, and internationally. Val’s background as the former president of the WNBA along with her 8 years of experience serving on the FIBA board and her current role as commissioner of the Big East will be invaluable. Nga will also benefit from the incredible and expansive business experience of Ann, Chief Marketing Officer of the Big East. Ann has worked on marketing strategies for some of the best organizations in the world – from nonprofits to professional sports. Undoubtedly, Val and Ann will be a dynamite one-two punch for Nga as she tries to expand the game of basketball in Vietnam and beyond.

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