During Business Executive Network members’ meetings, CEOs who are new to Vietnam, often share similar concerns. We’ve tapped into the wealth of experience within our executive community and distilled their feedback to create this guide for a successful initiation into Vietnam’s thriving business arena.

Vietnam is a country steeped in history yet charging into the future, and like any market, it presents tantalizing opportunities as well as unique challenges, cultural differences, and operational intricacies that demand a proactive and adaptable approach. Insights from seasoned executives offer the following invaluable guidance.

Embrace Flexibility and Exercise Patience

David Young, COO Pharmacity

For all new executive arrivals in Vietnam or any foreign country, I have now done this in 10 countries, my advice is to be patient, listen, learn, and understand the culture and environment before acting. Language skill is also not a sign of competence or performance.”

Sam Conroy, Managing Director CEA Projects

“Don’t set anything in concrete in your first 6 months. Make changes, but make sure people know you will change again with experience if needed.”

Neil MacGregor, Managing Director – Savills Vietnam

“Vietnam is a land of opportunity. Grasp it, but be aware that patience may be required along the way.”

Relationship Building

Rick Yvanovich, Founder and Chief Executive Officer TRG International

“Don’t try and do it all yourself. Join some networks like the Business Executive Network and learn from others who have made mistakes and thus have experience.”

Jamie Rossall, Country Manager Crown Worldwide Ltd

“Create great networks internally within the business as well as externally outside of the business. Get to know the people
in your team and just as important, make sure you have a social network.”

Thian Aun Goh, General Director Kirby Building Systems

“Find someone who has lived here for more than 10 years and ask them for advice. They can help you understand the local culture, find stuff around the city, the pros & cons of where to stay, best spots to eat, and how to cross the road.”

Nga Vuong, Head of Hanoi Branch & Head of Local Corporate Business Development – Talentnet Vietnam

“Spend time walking around, feel the vibes, and learn about the market and people before you make any decision.”

Cultural Sensitivity and Training

Simon Pugh, Chief Executive Officer and majority shareholder of QLM Label Makers

“Cultural sensitivity training, get your personal ecosystem in order.”

David Archibald, General Director – Al Naboodah International Vietnam

“Comprehending Vietnamese business culture is crucial for a new CEO navigating this developing market, as it lays the foundation for successful partnerships and negotiations. Vietnam’s business landscape is intricate, and cultural understanding serves as the compass not only guiding strategic decisions but also building enduring relationships essential for sustained growth and prosperity.”

Talent Acquisition: Unlocking Vietnam’s Labor Potential

Brad Kelly, Chief Executive Officer Mercedes-Benz Vietnam

“Recruiting can be difficult in Vietnam; however, LinkedIn is a great resource if used correctly. Give it to your marketing team to manage. To attract the best talents, your company page must contain more than just information, it also needs inspiration.”

Linh Thai, Chief Executive Officer, Skills Bridge

“A strong HR Manager should be one of your first key hires. Make sure this person has experience in all areas of HR, including recruiting, contracts and labor law, internal processes and culture building activities.”

Navigating the Complex Landscape of Ethics

Michele Wee, Chief Executive Officer Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam

”Stick to your principles and governance models, get local perspectives, advance diversity and inclusion, and build your network in Vietnam.”

Andrew Currie, Chairman and Creative Director – OUT-2 Design Group

“You can be successful doing business here ethically, but it may take longer to get your business where you want to go.”

If you’re seeking a strong community of business leaders in Vietnam, the Business Executive Network might be your answer. Embarking on a professional journey in Vietnam demands an adaptive mindset, cultural understanding, and a proactive approach to networking and learning from those who have been there before you. We hope integrating and applying these insights judiciously, can help you to forge an exciting and fruitful path in this market.

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Tim Burrill
Membership Manager & Executive Assistant
If you would like to learn more about our events and membership, or have other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.