Bitis Executive Leadership Retreat – August 2018

From August 9th to 12th, members of the Vietnamese and International ELI team headed to Nam Cat Tien, three hours out of Saigon to kickstart the collaboration between ELI and Bitis, Vietnam’s leading shoe company, with a retreat for the Executive Leadership of Bitis. This marked the beginning of a three year long process, where ELI will work together with Bitis in order to become a Happy Organisation.

The theme of the retreat was Happiness at Work – What are the inner and outer conditions for happiness at work?



Present were director-level employees from various departments including marketing, sales, finance – most of which have been with the company for over ten years – as well as a couple of more-recently employed staff members. Teams from both Bitis and Gosto attended the retreat, co-guided by Tho Ha Vinh together with members from the ELI team, including Ha, Hai, Khanh, Vy, Giang, Hang Mai, and Camille. We were also very lucky to be joined by Giang’s 13 year old daughter Clara who brought the group light and joy.

On the first day, we explored what is the true meaning of Happiness from the perspective of Gross National Happiness and participants spent time identifying what are the main sources of Happiness in their own lives. It was inspiring to see that working for Bitis was a source of Happiness for more than just one. Spending time with family was also a reccuring theme. Tho then introduced the inner conditions for happiness, focusing on the development of happiness skills and the science of mindfulness.

On the second day, we headed deep into the jungle, where participants had a chance to really disconnect from « city dwelling » life, and to reconnect with nature. The afternoon was dedicated to deep listening, dealing with emotions, and social and emotional skills.

On the last day, Tho gave a presentation about GNH in Business and Education, followed by work in subgroups reflecting upon ways to implement what was learned during the course of the retreat, both at a personal level and into the organisation. Some ideas mentioned included mindfulness before beginning meetings, tree-planting campaigns, lessening the environmental impact of the company through less plastic, increasing awareness about paper usage.

It was incredible to see this group « jumping  into» the retreat setting and absorbing the content, very soon motivated to turn these new learnings into concrete actions. The atmosphere throughout the retreat was happy, joyful and very friendly. It was great to see how caring Quyen is as a leader.

The retreat ended with a circle of planting seeds, before driving back to Saïgon.

Our deep gratitude to Quyen for her sincere commitment to turn Bitis into a Happy Organisation, to Giang for her great and lively translation work, and to Philippe and Phuc from La Vie est Belle for hosting us.


Bitis is also supporting the Happy Schools project, and Hai will be collaborating with the marketing team to create ressources and materials in Vietnamese. In October, Khanh, Ha and Hai will lead a GNH Ambassadors workshop together a larger number of staff members from Bitis and Gosto.