Successful professionals in Ho Chi Minh City took time out to share their personal experiences of doing business in Vietnam with students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
During the session, the 26 students heard from three speakers about the cultural challenges and advantages of working in the country, the fastest growing areas - for-profit education, healthcare, retail creative industries and the service sector - and tips on setting up their own businesses.
One of the speakers was Damien Roberts, who has worked in Asia for nearly 10 years and is the executive director of Saigon Children, a charity that develops schools for children living in poverty in rural areas of Vietnam.
He said: “Bringing students out here, like DMU has done, not only makes them more employable but more employable in better paid roles. This is because when you’ve got global experience in any sector you tend to be rarer in the job market and that’s what people pay for.”
Damien’s presentation struck a powerful chord with Footwear Design student Bethany Cox, who said: “Hearing Damien speak about giving children from a low-income background a chance to go into education was really interesting.
“You see so many cobblers on the streets doing good quality work here. With my course teaching me everything from design and making to packaging, I could bring these people in who already have a great foundation, teach them the extra skills needed and give them the chance to better their lives.
“As someone from a low-income background myself and the first in my family to go to university, running a successful business while providing people with stable wages and hours, as well as protection from working on the streets, would be amazing.”
Students heard about what it’s like to be a woman doing business in Vietnam from Soline Linh Le, the project director for Dental Tourism VN, a leading company in a fast-growing industry which provides affordable dental care for tourists.
Having studied in Europe and worked in Africa before returning to her home country, Soline told students: “Take advantage of your international education and exposure. When you come to Vietnam you bring with you a sustainable mindset and a range of desirable soft skills that local people are not exposed to.
“In return, what you can learn is resilience. In fast growing countries like Vietnam, things change so fast and you have to learn how to adapt to that.”
Rick Ivanovich, the founder and CEO of global technology firm TRG, spoke about his 29 years of living and working in Ho Chi Minh City.
He said: “The best advice for students coming to Vietnam is to bring your game face. It’s going to be different here to whatever you’ve experienced before. Every day will teach you something and will present a whole lot of opportunities. It’s up to you to take advantage of them.
“What’s kept me here so long? The fact that anything is possible.”
Film Studies student Federico Ricci had a chance to ask Rick about internship opportunities at the end of the session. He said: “Even though I don’t have a background in business or management, it was good to hear that there are still opportunities for me.
“Rick’s company provides training before the actual activities start. He said that because the way they do business here is so different to Europe, even a business student would need some training before starting.”
The students are visiting Vietnam as part of a week-long trip to give them an insight into the working world in Asia. It’s organised by DMU Works, the university’s careers programme, and DMU Global, the university’s international experience programme, in partnership with Pagoda Projects.
Posted on Tuesday 5th November 2019