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  • Writer's pictureMichael Arnold

Coffee Industry Leader Le Hoang Diep Thao Steps Out of the Shadows

The stories we tell about people who lead others are very important. These stories provide examples for us to follow and learn from, they inspire us and show us the way ahead. The world needs leaders whom we admire and who guide us, heroes who make the world a better place for others.

For a very long time in our history, most leadership stories have been written about men. It has often been men who decide which stories are told, men who stand at the front and do all the talking. Sometimes it's hard to see that the women in the background are quietly getting the job done while the men keep telling their own stories. The fact is that women often choose to work in the shadows, where our oldest traditions have left them behind. Some of these traditions have a certain beauty, but they are not what we may wish to leave behind for our daughters.

When I first spoke with Mme. Diep Thao about producing her book The Queen of King Coffee, everything I knew about her came from what I read in the Vietnamese media. I found it strange then that there were far fewer articles published about Mme. Diep Thao and her coffee businesses than I would have expected, despite her many years of pioneering work in the coffee industry. Working with her and interviewing the people who have watched her work first-hand, I discovered that she was instrumental in the development of Vietnamese coffee-drinking culture during the period following the war, and that she was a gifted business visionary who helped reform and reshape the way Vietnam trades its coffee products internationally.

I found that Mme. Diep Thao’s contributions are largely unknown in her home country and abroad, because she is indeed one of those women who chooses to work behind the scenes, making real success possible. That’s true leadership—making things happen without the need to take credit or reward.

Mme. Thao’s decision to write this book now is because now is the time to reach out to others to continue the path ahead for this industry. Like Thao herself, the Vietnamese coffee industry has built a massive global presence without receiving due recognition for its status as the world’s second largest coffee exporter. It’s time now for Vietnam to build stronger coffee markets in our region and seek partnerships that will benefit coffee producers throughout the world with fairer commodity prices. Thao’s book lays out that vision and delivers an expert’s assessment of how closer trade between Vietnam and the Middle East, the original home of coffee, could create unprecedented opportunities in the coffee business.

But Mme. Diep Thao’s book isn’t just about reaching out to other players in this particular field. The Queen of King Coffee lays out a distinctively female approach to management that is written as an example to show our young women what they can become. In describing her own philosophy of management and providing a complete account of her successes in business, she shares insider’s knowledge of feminine entrepreneurship and provides a new role model for modern business women of Asia, the Middle East and the world.

I’m honoured to represent Metro Writers in producing The Queen of King Coffee for Mme. Le Hoang Diep Thao. We established our platform to help outstanding people everywhere share the parts of their lives that matter, the overwhelming moments that they want others to understand—the way they want to be remembered. We are proud to tell stories of our successful women of today, leaders like Mme. Diep Thao who have achieved their dreams and now share their life histories with the girls who will follow in their footsteps.

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