Affluent young Asians are the flavor of the moment, in Hollywood at least.
But the truth of the matter is, Asia’s wealth isn’t entirely new. The region has heard the roar of a number of economic tigers over the past few decades and now Vietnam is riding that wave.
Since releasing my book Competing with Giants, I sometimes get asked ‘why write the book?’.
As one of the heirs apparent of Vietnam’s largest food and beverage business, it’s assumed that I have the world at my feet. So why am I searching for more fame or money?
It’s a fantastic question with a straight-down-the-line answer. I’m not.
An heir or heiress can be defined as someone who’s legally entitled to something, such as property or a business. The way I see the role is that the person has to work hard to earn the honor and privilege of continuing a legacy of good work.
In my case, the legacy I’m talking about was created by my parents, Dr Thanh and Madam Nu.
They built THP into a thriving billion-dollar business off the back of the ‘impossible’. At the time they started their business, Vietnam was devastated by war with severe trade sanctions and the challenge of rebuilding a nation.
Inflation was raging up to 900 percent and the government changed currencies three times. Bribery and corruption was rife in government and business, across all sectors.
As you can imagine, this made economic conditions very challenging for my parents to establish and grow a business. The circumstances they – and countless others – faced would be unimaginable for many of us today.
Growing together and giving back
Throughout my life, my parents actively taught us that we have to earn what we want. We’re not automatically entitled to it.
I myself started at THP as a secretary, studied the business from the ground up and worked my way through different roles to the position I’m in now.
I was not entitled to any special treatment simply because I was the daughter of the boss. In fact, things were even harder and more challenging. In fact, the hardest taskmaster of all was (and is) my dad.
My parents also taught us the importance of giving back because they are driven by things other than money. I learned from an early age that success is not simply an individual pursuit, but is measured by how we help others around us to develop.
At THP, for example, we measure success, not just by reaching our financial targets, but how each person’s capacity grows, and how they support their colleagues to achieve success as a whole. It’s an unusual way of doing employee assessments, but it works for us.
We’re also committed to helping Vietnam thrive through our Corporate Social Responsibility programs, which support mostly long-term grassroots initiatives that build independence in communities.
These are just some of the things my father and mother taught me, and I’d like to share that with others through my book.
Bridge between East and West
I was educated overseas but am proudly Vietnamese. For me, there has never been any tension between Western values and Asian values.
Just like the symbol of yin and yang, I believe the two can exist in harmony. It really is a matter of taking the best from both worlds.
It helps that my parents share this perspective too. For instance, from early on, they adopted outward-facing values driven by innovation while very specifically focusing on local market needs by going ‘narrow and deep’.
THP now exports to 16 countries and has had the privilege of working with many overseas partners. But the core of our success still comes from building localization into each part of our marketing strategy and campaigns.
Customer-centricity and local market knowledge is very important to us, and has allowed us to make real products that our customers love.
This kind of approach has helped THP skillfully navigate extreme post-war challenges and make clear decisions in today’s highly competitive global marketplace.
In Competing with Giants, I’ve interwoven business insights with some very personal aspects of our family’s stories to help readers and the entrepreneurial community understand what is truly possible. After all, we are all here to learn and grow.
I hope the stories in the book will inspire others to live their ‘Impossible’ and achieve their goals, no matter what their field or where they live in the world. In short, the message is ‘Never give up’.