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|Vietnamese women rising to the top|
BRG Group chairwoman Madame Nguyen Thi Nga last week became the first Vietnamese person to receive the Woman of Impact Award at the 2020 Women Entrepreneurship Summit, which took place in the Philippines.
The Woman of Impact Award is an annual award granted to the most exceptional businesswomen in the ASEAN region who have proven impact, recorded contributions to the economy, and illustrated innovative practices in their respective industry.
The event also provides prominent local and international female business leaders with a platform to share their inspiring stories of success, in order to help encourage other aspiring businesswomen to grasp the secrets of entrepreneurial success.
“For me, being a female entrepreneur is a great honour. I am not only a woman of my own family but also a person who has acquired the ability to foster inspiration inside a larger business family consisting of 22,000 committed staff at BRG Group,” explained Nga to attendees at the event.
Demonstrating the message of “making the impossible possible” through her story of constructing the Sheraton Grand Danang Resort in record time to serve the APEC 2017 gala dinner for 21 world leaders and 600 VIP guests, Nga hoped to prove that female entrepreneurs in the ASEAN possess the know-how that can build understanding, achieve success, and overcome difficulties in order to expand businesses and contribute to a country’s socio-economic wellbeing.
With great achievements in business, Nga has previously been named among the top 50 most powerful Asian women by Forbes.
Along with Nga, many other businesswomen are contributing to the development of economy and society in Vietnam.
On the Forbes Vietnam Under-30 list for 2020 is Nguyen Thi Thu Ha. The 25-year-old managing director of MindX takes care of a huge coworking space of 5,000 square metres for five facilities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, serving over 9,000 people. “I always dream of a little Silicon Valley in Vietnam and want to build an eco-system of schools training Industry 4.0 skills,” Ha said.
In 2015, Ha became the Google student ambassador in Vietnam and had a chance to travel to almost all Southeast Asian countries. “These trips showed me that technology can change our lives,” she said.
Returning to Vietnam, Ha decided to realise her dream, offering evening tech classes for children on robotics, programming, and graphic design, which have attracted many young learners.
When her tech classes began to gain traction, Ha realised that it would be very wasteful not to use the space during the day, so she asked some friends to join her project and create a coworking space with an investment of $500,000 from ESP Capital.
“Many women think of a stable and safe job and limit themselves at some level. I think that there is no limit preventing people from pursuing their dreams,” Ha said.
According to the latest international Grant Thornton study, in 2019, the rate of female business leaders was relatively high. In which, Vietnam ranked second in Asia with 36 per cent, only after the Philippines at 37.5 per cent. The proportion of female-owned enterprises also increased from 4 per cent in 2009 to 27.8 per cent in 2017, the highest in the Southeast Asia.
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, VIR is proud to introduce some outstanding ladies who are contributing to the development of the country.
Bui Kim Thuy, Country representative for Vietnam, US-ASEAN Business Council
As a person directly participating in the negotiations of many free trade agreements (FTA), my main concern is to help the Vietnamese business community to understand its abilities and advantages in the global value chain.
According to my observations, the negotiation process of an FTA mostly benefits traders, not manufacturers. So enterprises must focus on creating their trademarks as the money comes from them, rather than the products.
I like the book Lam Nhu Choi by Thich Minh Niem, in which the author makes no distinction between day and night, early weekdays and weekend, and working time. Through this book, I got a lot of inspiration for my work life with the wish to make my country better.
I think that when the aim is clear, the path is easy to follow. Whatever public or private project you are working on and whoever you are, an employee or employer, let your job and your working place be the means to carry out your life’s goal.
I have been a learner for my whole life and always bow before good things. I wish to repay the luck that I have been given through my activities. This country is mine and yours, let us act to make it better each day.
Quy Vo-Reinhard - Co-founder and CDO, HIT Foundation
In my opinion when we talk about work, it is about performance and gender does not decide the success of a person. Nowadays, women are successful in different positions, with many in advanced leadership roles. The key is working for what you are really passionate about. Women should love themselves and have a healthy life. When we are health, we automatically are happy, feel beautiful, and are self-confident to gain success.
I see myself as a cheerful woman who is always full of energy and inspiration. I love sports, yoga, hiking, dancing, and motor racing. Doing exercise gives me energy to follow my passion.
As a PhD in biomedicine, I dedicated my work to healthcare innovations, aimed at providing equal opportunities and benefits to all stakeholders. I wish to apply blockchain also to agricultural supply chains and help women, especially Vietnamese, to embrace technology and close the existing gender gaps.
In 2018, I was honoured to be among the 100 overseas Vietnamese intellectuals and scientists who were invited to deliver strategies on sustainability growth in Industry 4.0 to the Vietnamese government. Since then I have continuously travelled, even during pregnancy, to give lectures about application blockchain in healthcare and health data strategy. I have spoken at events like the Vietnam Sustainability Forum in Hanoi and the Vietnam Global Leaders Forum in Paris.
In the same year, I decided to invest a five-figure amount in USD in Vietnam’s healthcare to apply blockchain in some hospitals, wishing to bring more advanced healthcare solutions to the country and improving people’s access to healthcare services.
Furthermore, I founded Give Him The Light, an international charity project that aims to save lives and solve problems for people in need. Nowadays, I am also a member of the board of directors of different Vietnamese associations globally, such as the International Vietnamese Academics Network and the Association of Vietnamese Intellectuals and Experts in Switzerland to promote networking and collaboration among Vietnamese academics and university students living in Vietnam and abroad.
Dang Phuong Hang - Managing director, CBRE Vietnam
As the only female managing director of a foreign-invested real estate consultancy firm in Vietnam so far, I have faced many challenges but I have always highly appreciated the energy of my team.
My philosophy is that if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Keeping the leading seat at CBRE Vietnam definitely comes with a lot of pressure. In order to build and maintain relationships with clients, I have to work much harder than my male colleagues.
Along with that, I am also pressured to emulate my predecessor, Marc Townsend, who achieved great things in Vietnam’s real estate industry.
When referring to CBRE, people always refer to Townsend as a symbol. When I joined CBRE Vietnam and got the position of managing director, I was often compared to my predecessor.
However, after taking the position over three years ago, I have tried my best to let my customers and employees acknowledge my efforts. I chose to focus on teamwork in my development strategy - a strong structure in which everyone supports each other and enables high-level management officers to show off their advantages.
For CBRE Vietnam, our staff is the most valuable asset. I always highly appreciated the strength of a team. No matter how good, a person can only do so much, but a whole team of good people will build the great things.
I was fortunate to attain a very exciting and enthusiastic senior management team that has been working for CBRE for quite a long time.
Together, we continue to look for further opportunities to develop the company and solve the upcoming challenges to make our business more effective.
Ly Thi Phuong Trang - General director, Daikin Vietnam
It was fortune that led me to study mechanical and electrical refrigeration, but passion that has caused me to stay this long in the industry.
When I chose a major to pursue a university degree, my parents wanted me to become a medical student. However, I persuaded them to let me try studying at Hanoi University of Science & Technology (HUST) since I was in love with math and physics. I promised I would pursue their choice if I failed that year. Luckily, I passed and graduated in the field of mechanical and electrical refrigeration after five years.
Thanks to my background in this field, I became a sales agent and was later invited to take the position of CEO at Viet Kim Company in 1995, specialising in distributing Daikin air conditioners in Vietnam.
In 2008, Viet Kim became a member of Daikin Group. At this time, I was strongly promoting Daikin as a brand for air-conditioners, hoping that people would always associate these two terms. With this ambition in mind, through years of making an effort, in 2013, Daikin became the market leader for air conditioners. In 2015, Daikin Vietnam ranked first with the highest market share for residential products.
I think this fruitful outcome mainly comes from my family’s support, and is the result of me balancing family and work. A woman’s role in the Asian mindset always includes preserving and cultivating happiness. I always think that I was quite lucky. First of all, because I am my mother’s child. She is a wonderful person and always knows how to keep the fire alive and connect family members. I was greatly influenced by her.
Furthermore, I can count myself lucky to have a peaceful family. My husband is my high school classmate and we had been loving each other for 10 years before we got married. We can always share and sympathise with each other. We try not to bring work home. We spend more than a third of the day at work, the rest should be for oneself and the family.
Cat Thao Nguyen - Managing director, Global Ready LLC
I did many jobs in the past to get by. At the age of 18, I delivered pizza in areas that were so dangerous that no insurance company would insure cars back then. I was the only female in many districts delivering pizza.
Then I worked in a factory; taught English to young students; and sold flowers, cookies, and banh mi. For decades after arriving in Australia, my family remained poor because we trusted people who ultimately cheated on us. I lived in an area with gangs and violence, and some of my friends were addicted to heroin. There were many times when I thought I had no future. But my parents believed in the power of education. They taught me that we are luckier than many others. I watched them face hardship with grace and honesty, without complaints. In life, we must face challenges with hard work and integrity.
As a CEO, I had to restructure a company and fire about 40 employees. However, after they got their final payments, some of them came back after working hours to volunteer to help me. I learnt that there is no difference between professional and personal life - it is how you live each day. To live a good life is not to have lots of money but to make the society you live in a better one for everyone.
In 2015, my heart broke after giving birth to my baby Angie Mai Khiem Tran. She died but I learnt that the purpose of suffering is to deepen compassion. The doctor said that she would have had many disabilities and never live past 12 months. My husband and I wanted to inspire people to do acts of kindness in her name.
Hundreds of people around the world joined us, and at her funeral we could share how her short life made a difference to the world. Courage is not just surviving but choosing hope, choosing to dream, and choosing to live responsibly so that others live better because of you. With the help of my husband, family, and friends, I choose courage.