Remarks by Ambassador William A. Heidt at the FUSAAC Major and Career Fair

Institute of Technology of Cambodia, Phnom Penh
March 4, 2018

Your Excellency Dr. Im Koch from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport;
Ms. Hout Siekhuoy, President of the Fulbright and Undergraduate State Alumni Association of Cambodia and other members of FUSAAC;
Students, parents, and volunteers; ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning everyone and welcome to the 2018 Major and Career Fair! It is incredible to see so many students here this morning – thank you all for coming.

I would like to say a special thank you to Ms. Hout Siekhuoy, the first elected female president of FUSAAC and the hundreds of FUSAAC volunteers who made this event possible today. Let’s give them all a round of applause!

This event would not have been possible without the participation of all the speakers who took time to share their experiences with all of you today. So I would like to thank them too.

And finally, let me give a big thank you to the Institute of Technology of Cambodia for hosting this amazing event.

I heard this morning that, just like last year, every one of the 2,000 tickets for today’s career fair have been sold out. That’s incredibly impressive and shows that the reputation of this event is growing year by year.

The theme of this year’s Fair is “entrepreneurship” (piep dzia sahagrihn) a topic that is an important part of American culture and something we at the Embassy spend a lot of time promoting here in Cambodia.

Let me tell you a story about a young American boy who grew up outside of New York City. He attended Harvard University and majored in psychology, although he took many computer science classes on the side.

While the other students were studying for final exams, he was busy following his passion and building something special. It was a tool that would connect his college classmates more effectively so that they could better communicate.

Does anyone know who this boy grew up to be?

Let me give you a hint: Back then, many universties gave incoming students books – paper books – with pictures of everyone in the Freshman class. They called those books “Freshmen Facebooks.”

Does anyone know now? That’s correct, it was Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

Mark ended up dropping out of Harvard to pursue his dream of making Facebook successful. And by doing that, he became one of America’s most famous entrepreneurs.

His story is interesting because although he studied psychology, he realized his true calling was in something very differnent—computer science. You see, your first major at the university is not always your life’s calling.

But entrepreneurship isn’t really a major. It is an attitude and a way of thinking, an approach or path that you can follow regardless of your studies. You don’t have to study business to become an entrepreneur – you could have studied math, science, English, international relations, or even psychology.

The key thing for becoming an entrepreneur is to have entrepreneurial spirit and persistence. That means finding something that you love, pursuing it, and not giving up. Cambodia has a lot of young entrepreneurs these days doing just that in the technology, tourism, and services fields.

The Embassy does a lot to help young Cambodians learn about entrepreneurship and make contacts with entrepreneurs in America. Last October, we sent seven young Cambodian tech entrepreneurs to several different cities in the United States – including Silicon Valley – to learn about how we support tech startups in the United States. They met with U.S. startups, incubators, and local government officials working on supporting entrepreunership in the United States.

We especially emjoy supporting women’s entrepreneurship Cambodia. Studies show that when women thrive, so do their communities. According to a report by the Asian Development Bank, 65 percent of all Cambodian businesses are women-owned. However, 96 percent of them employ fewer than four persons. So there are many women-owned businesses, but almost all of them are small.

To grow their businesses, female entrepreneurs in Cambodia not only need access to capital, they also need improve their entrepreneurial skills, broaden their networks, identify business best practices, and learn from role models and mentors.

We are helping some of Cambodia’s best business women become role models and build connections with other female entrepreneurs around the world. In November, we sent a delegation of seven Cambodian female entrepreneurs to India to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. The GES is the world’s most prestigious entrepreneurship event, convening over 1,500 entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers from all over the world.

The Cambodian delegation – which was the biggest in Asia, by the way – had a chance to network with other female entrepreneurs as well as the Advisor to the President of the United States, Ivanka Trump, who led the U.S. delegation.

I encourage you to keep in mind entrepreneurship – or the possibility of starting your own business – as you seek a major or career that inspires you. Cambodia needs energetic, enthusiastic entrepreuners to contribute to its development and growth. Becoming an entrepreneur allows you to pursue your own dreams and make them a reality.

I’d like to finish by reading a quote from another famous American entrepreuer, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. Steve said:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life…Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Congratulations, FUSAAC, on holding another successful major and career fair. Thank you all for coming today and for taking this step to invest in your future. I hope you will have the courage to follow your hearts as well!

Good luck everyone! Thank you very much.