Vietnamese female CEOs listed among top global business leaders

The achievements of Vietnamese women “steering” large corporations have been recognized internationally.

Vietnamese female CEOs listed among top global business leaders

Nguyen Thi Bich Van

In early 2021, on its Facebook page, IBM Vietnam for the first time announced the appointment of a female Vietnamese CEO to replace a foreign CEO who had been working for IBM for 25 years.

The woman, Pham Thu Diep, is the first IBM’s ‘female general’ in the company's 25 years of operation in the Vietnamese market.

It is now more common to see women managing large corporations in Vietnam such as Mai Kieu Lien, CEO of Vinamilk; Nguyen Thi Nga, president of BRG; Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, CEO of Vietjet; and Le Thi Thu Thuy of VinFast are some of the names.

However, becoming a CEO of a foreign invested technology firm is still rare in Vietnam.

Before taking the office as CEO of a technology firm, Diep was a high ranking manager with 23 years of experience in the IT field. Starting her career at TRG International, she later held posts at Exact, which provides ERP service and cloud software to clients specializing in accountancy.

Diep joined IBM in early 2011 and has had many leadership positions since then.

In 2017, a Vietnamese woman became the highest ranking leader of Unilever Vietnam, a foreign invested enterprise specializing in personal and family care products and food. The first Vietnamese female president of the leading company in the FMCG sector is Nguyen Thi Bich Van, who has had a strong attachment to the company for the last 24 years.

Le Diep Kieu Trang is another well known name among businesswomen. She worked as CEO of Facebook and Go-Viet before choosing a new way to go.

The ‘golden girl’ with respectable achievements during school has had leadership positions at the world’s largest groups in Vietnam. 

The brilliant achievements gained by VietJet Air, the air carrier with the largest market share, in the last decade bear the hallmark of CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao. Last year Vietjet was one of only a few air carriers in the world which did not lay off workers and also made a profit, despite the Covid-19 crisis.

After a period of holding the post of CEO at Fossil Vietnam, Trang chose Facebook to use her experience to connect to the business community, both in Vietnam and overseas.

Global vision

 

Van said in Forbes Vietnam that being a leader in a multinational environment requires a high level of professionalism. She needs to understand multinationals’ vision and define their role in the multinationals’ business.

The working environment at multinationals is very diverse, so there is high requirement on the ability to work, communicate, and think in that environment. To encourage people to raise good ideas, leaders not only need to understand national cultures, but also understand the abilities of each worker so as to combine their talents and lead the staff to the finish point.

According to Van, this is not an easy work, because the more talented people there are, the more difficult it is for the team to reach a common purpose. In modern times, CEOs need to not ‘issue orders from the top down’, but ‘serve others’. They need to set orientation and then give power to workers to implement the strategies.

Some important positions at foreign corporations were and are held by Vietnamese women. These include Nguyen Phuong Anh, who worked as Google Asia Pacific marketing director in charge of the Vietnamese market; and Nguyen Mai Phuong, who became the youngest branding director of Unilever at the age of 24.

Vietnamese businesswomen also play an important role in the development of Vietnamese enterprises.

The brilliant achievements gained by VietJet Air, the air carrier with the largest market share, in the last decade bear the hallmark of CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao. Last year Vietjet was one of only a few air carriers in the world which did not lay off workers and also made a profit, despite the Covid-19 crisis.

Thao has been included in Bloomberg’s list of 50 global influential leaders for many years. Thao is also chair of the board of directors and founding shareholder of Sovico Holdings, and deputy chair of HDBank.

In the manufacturing sector, Le Thu Thuy, president of VinFast, is a respectable name. Just within a short time, VinFast introduced its first two products – LUX A2.0 sedan series and LUX SA2.0 SUV at Paris Motor Show 2018. Most recently, its first three SUV smart electric cars were launched.

The great strides made by VinFast has created a stronger belief in the future of Vietnam’s automobile industry. This is the first time in history that a Vietnamese company can manufacture luxury cars with good design and high quality, to be sold in Vietnam and in the world market as well. 

V. Ha

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