Bong Watd: Looking Back As She Completes Her First Year as Executive Director
The PEPY family has worked under the leadership of many talented directors since our official emergence in 2007. Khouth Sochampawatd, who took over as Executive Director in February 2021, has certainly been no exception! In just one year, we have seen tremendous growth in our programs, local partnerships, and team members despite facing so many challenges from COVID. In general, taking on such a huge role would be difficult, but Bong Watd’s success, despite the odds, is truly remarkable to our team. In this post, we wanted to share her background, her PEPY story, and her plans for continuing to strengthen the organization going forward.
Bong Watd’s journey with PEPY began in 2009 as a Project Officer, where she first fell in love with our organization’s culture observing that everyone worked together to create an inspiring, and creative environment. As she constantly expresses, “PEPY belongs to everybody, and everyone has a sense of ownership of PEPY.” Bong Watd strongly believes that PEPY holds the same personal values as her, especially those of transparency and honesty. At PEPY, everyone believes that honesty is best and the team works to consistently create a positive working environment that encourages learning and sharing.
After working as a PEPY Project Officer, Bong Watd went on to hold various positions at PEPY and served as the Board Chairman before becoming the Executive Director. When first taking on the role of Executive Director, Sochampawatd doubted her abilities. However, in time, she proved to herself that she had the confidence, leadership, decision-making skills, patience, and people skills for the job. She is attentive to all co-workers and works tirelessly to guarantee that everyone is on the right track and all questions and concerns are answered and rectified. Her time as Executive Director had a rocky start as she first began leading during the height of COVID-19 in Cambodia. However, because of all the support and encouragement she had from the team, she confidently took on the role and really amazed our entire community with her commendable efforts and commitment.
Bong Watd wholeheartedly believes that to “invest in people is to invest in education.” This belief has shaped her decision-making throughout her time as ED, leading to her implementing new initiatives while developing existing ones, to increase the scope and quality of what PEPY can offer to the youth of Cambodia. From designing a core syllabus with the team for the YISI (Youth Innovators’ Space and Incubator) Program to making sure that the PEPY team had quality training in order to create stronger content and programs, Bong Watd has covered all bases in improving PEPY programs to the best they can be. She has also given extra attention to PEPY’s civic engagement, empowering their youth to be confident and outspoken individuals. She also has focused on the development of HR guidelines, including staff recruitment and performance guidelines for the PEPY team which has been the building blocks in the improvements seen throughout PEPY. Additionally, a renewed focus on Monitoring and Evaluation in the projects for a more thorough evaluation of their work was also implemented.
Throughout the rest of Bong Watd’s time as Executive Director, she plans on improving MEL (Monitoring and Evaluation Learning) guidelines, financial policies and creating a mentor program to support the team. At PEPY, we are working our hardest to be able to secure more grants and continually improve our programs and projects.
PEPY’s relationship with our partners is something Bong Watd also gives great importance to. At PEPY, we always put our values first when interacting with our donors and partners; having a relationship built on trust and honesty is what she was focused on continuing. We are consistently building on our relationship with our donors and finding new ways to improve interactions to keep both parties engaged and happy.
Lastly, Bong Watd views female empowerment as an integral component of growth in organizations. She encourages other women to take on leadership positions, take risks and learn from them. She believes that “the job and the people will teach you and your team will support you”. She wants to leave many positive changes at PEPY and hopes that the individual who will be her successor will bring in new ideas and create a meaningful impact on PEPY.
After reaching her goals at PEPY, Bong Watd plans to finish and publish her book titled “Love.” Sochampawatd is specifically writing this book for all the women who forget to love themselves and wants to remind them that their wellbeing is the most important. Moreover, she has dreams of starting up her own training center which she would name “mindset” because she believed that “our thoughts become our world” and so she wants to help others improve their mental well-being and inner strength.
Thank you Bong for all your dedication and support to PEPY! We look forward to continuing to work with you and see what we can all accomplish together!
If you would like to contribute to our work in addressing gender equity and women’s economic empowerment your donation for this International Women’s Day would be greatly appreciate and impactful. You can donate here.