VK Vu was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Partially motivated to escape the living conditions of a developing country, her family moved to the United States when she was six years old. They joined members of her extended family who had fled as refugees by boat years earlier during the war. Throughout her upbringing, VK’s visits to Vietnam gave her the continuous exposure on the issues that emerging markets face—especially the gap in opportunities for women.
At University of California-Berkeley, VK was drawn to classes that covered topics such as the gender wealth gap, parity in leadership positions, and community impact of patriarchal household traditions. She wrote a research paper on “Gender Diversity in the Executive Suite: Implications to Profitability and Society” and formed communities for women by launching Women Circles at UC-Berkeley.
After graduating from UC-Berkeley, VK worked at Bain & Company as a management consultant to build the analytical, problem-solving skillsets in the private sector. Her itch to apply her learnings and skills for societal impact led her to strategy work in education at SPARK Schools, South Africa’s first blended learning education network. Shortly after, VK joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a strategy officer focusing on projects regarding US education, India health systems, CEO transition, and Global COVID-19 response, enabling her to better understand the landscape of impact mechanisms within global health and development.
As a joint degree candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, VK hopes to learn how policy can incentivize the private sector to design solutions that work for everyone, regardless of gender. VK is currently leading a women’s economic empowerment working group with the goal to incubate mechanisms to drive investments more effectively towards women’s entrepreneurship, education, and health financing. At the Harvard Kennedy School, VK is a David M. Rubenstein fellow at the Center for Public Leadership, a transition term fellow at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government, and the community chair for the Joint Degree Leadership Council.