Alumni dinner at Saigon
Around us, the tables emptied very soon but the small group kept on talking all evening long about experiences and personal perceptions of Vietnam. Hien chose to come discover or more precisely rediscover that country. He gave us an appointment a few days later to further share his insights at le Parc, an oriental restaurant filled with expatriates. The atmosphere felt like Mediterranean shores than South East Asian heart.
The return to the roots
Hien comes from Vietnam. He was born in France where he studied until his graduation at ESSEC in 2009. During his student years, Hien first travelled to Vietnam thanks to the Asian Track, an ESSEC program in Singapore. A few months later, he left for Hue to develop Tuonglai, a humanitarian association of ESSEC. He was well acquainted with Vietnam. He spoke the language and had family in the South. This seemed very important but living in Saigon was not that easy for him: the real difference was above all cultural.
Hien majored in social entrepreneurship and also pursued the strategic and finance track. At his graduation in 2009, the crisis made its appearance in France. Hien started his career in Alcimed, a small Parisian consulting firm, in which he stayed for one year. He then entered one of the Big Four firms. The urge to discover the world and to take part in the development of the economy remained in Hien. So why not Vietnam? Hien speaks fluently Vietnamese, is well acquainted with this country and is very enthusiastic about working abroad. Naturally he decided to go there. His ambition: help Vietnam to grow and to develop.
"Help fostering growth in Vietnam"
Here, Hien works for PwC as a manager in a financial team. As soon as he began working, he was astonished by the radical differences in the professional world. Working in Vietnam differs in many aspects from working in France: "culturally, the process of taking initiative is different". Many youngsters study hard at the university. Then family takes a tremendous place. The ambition diminishes as a consequence.
The labour market is booming for the managers' category: in M&A departments, consulting firms, and the financial fields for instance. The expatriates are still sought after even though more and more Vietnamese study abroad and bridge the academic gap, which prevailed not that long ago. Hien, for his part, brings in his years of experiences and expertise. He largely advised us not to work right away in Vietnam after graduation. We should first work elsewhere in order to develop our capabilities. In Southeast Asia, the firms would rather hire high ranked and experimented expatriates capable of managing the teams.
Hien has left for a year now and considers that it is the minimum duration. He does not know yet how much longer he will stay in Vietnam because he feels that time is needed to get used to the Saigonese life and to the working methods. There are many changes and much uncertainty, he told us. Between the classical consultant profile and the adventurous entrepreneur, Vietnam is full of stories. We can let ourselves be tempted by new adventures. "I am helping Vietnam grow" concluded Hien. Like him, Vietnam still has a long path ahead. We wish both of them a radiant future.
Hien Nguyen Luong
2004 : ESSEC Grande Ecole
2009 : Consulting at Alcime, Paris
2010 : Joins L.E.K Consulting as a Project Leader in Paris
2014 : Leaves to Vietnam (Saigon) as an Associate Director for PwC (Strategy consulting)