Interview with Matt Friedman, the CEO at The Mekong Club and one of our expert speakers who instructed our CPD accredited course entitled Modern Slavery
Legal Beagle: How did you get interested in human trafficking?
Matt Friedman: I didn’t really become interested in human trafficking, the topic picked me. I was exposed to it on a regular basis and the more I learned about it, the more I felt compelled to be a part of the solution. Even if I had tried to turn away, I don’t think it would have been possible. Helping to address the problem seemed to be in my DNA.
Legal Beagle: Describe a typical day.
Matt Friedman: The Mekong Club, the organization I run, acts as a catalyst for change – engaging, inspiring and supporting the private sector to lead in the fight against modern slavery. On a typical day, I talk to corporation officials about the issue of modern slavery, I do a presentation or two on the topic, and I help to develop tools that will allow companies to identify and address modern slavery.
Legal Beagle: How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now?
Matt Friedman: My work within international public health (Nepal and Bangladesh) led me to this topic. I was being exposed to young girls that were HIV/AIDS positive. When we went to find out how this happened, we learned how many of them were tricked into this situation. The more I came in contact with this, the more I felt a need to get involved.
Legal Beagle: Did you have any mentors in your career and how have they influenced you?
Matt Friedman: During my nearly three-decade career, I have had many great mentors. Much of the benefit of this coaching came when these enlightened people offered stories about their own experiences, often revealing valuable lessons. What sometimes surprised me was how some of the stories initially did not seem relevant to my needs. But later in my life they did, helping me to grow as a person.
Legal Beagle: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Matt Friedman: Have a dream, stick with it and don’t get distracted by all of the things that prevent you from reaching this dream. Too many people start off with a plan, but don’t have the motivation and the stamina to maintain the course.
Legal Beagle: What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken in your career?
Matt Friedman: Trying to rescue a young girl from a brothel without adequate help. I have also exposed myself to many dangerous people as part of the work I have done over the years. When we work with criminals, the outcome can be very unpredictable.
Legal Beagle: What are the key skills and experience required for a career like yours?
Matt Friedman: A deep commitment to help others, an ability to solve problems, an understanding of the importance of collaboration, and an ability to not get overwhelmed when things don’t go your way.
Legal Beagle: Of all your accomplishments, which are you most proud of?
Matt Friedman: Whenever I am able to help someone with our work, I feel proud. It isn’t one thing. It is the culmination of all of the efforts I do that adds value to this world.
Legal Beagle: If you were to start your career journey again what would you do differently?
Matt Friedman: I wouldn’t change a single thing. I love what I do and am so blessed to have an opportunity to do what I feel I am good at. Many people do not have this privilege.
Legal Beagle: If you weren’t doing this what would have been your alternate career choice?
Matt Friedman: If I wasn’t doing this work, I think I’d be teaching. I have had a vast career that has exposed me to many important lessons. At this point in my life, I feel I have something to offer students who could learn from my experiences.
You can check out the CPD course Modern Slavery by clicking read more below: