The booming technology industry in Vietnam is one reason why Viet Vo, a tech expert in the fintech industry, decided to move back to Vietnam after more than a decade of building his career in France.
As part of our Về Nhà Đi Thôi series, Viet shares his experience working in France and how it was like moving to a vastly different work culture in Vietnam, and his thoughts on the tech boom in one of Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing economies.
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It started with a passion for wonder
Viet had always wanted to see the world and experience life outside of Vietnam, so he applied for an overseas programme to send him to France for his university studies after graduating from high school in Vietnam.
“Choosing France is an easy choice for me as my sister was already living in France,” Viet explains. He studied computer engineering and graduated with a Master of Science in Computer Systems, Networking and Telecommunications from INSA Lyon - Institut National Des Sciences Appliquees De Lyon.
With the big picture in mind and an understanding of what the technology industry needs, Viet took a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Management to hone his skills in management skills. He decided to work in France as there were work opportunities, as he wanted to experience a career in France.
The beauty of working in France
The first hurdle Viet had to overcome was the language. “When I arrived in France, I did not speak much French. On top of that, learning to speak formal French was another ballgame,” he says. Aside from the language barrier, Viet felt he needed to put in more effort than the locals to prove his abilities at work.
While putting in his best in what he does at work is important, Viet finds that having a work-life balance is equally vital.
“From my understanding from friends working in countries all over the world like in the US and Singapore, the French enjoy life more than work,” relates Viet. He adds: “There are many public holidays in France, and most companies offer many days for paid leave. Also, the French generally enjoy long lunches on workdays. Work meetings are prohibited during lunch hours. And this is because France is known for its gastronomy and love for food and culture.”
Since Viet only has work experience in France, he picked up the French way of approaching problems with qualitative, methodological methods. “I constantly analyse everything and plan ahead for everything,” he says. As Viet persevered in France, his initial plan of a two to three-year stay working overseas in France stretched over a decade.
Time for another adventure: Going home
Uprooting from one country and moving to another was a challenge for Viet’s family. His wife had to quit her job, and they needed to find a suitable school for their daughter. Even though there were considerable concerns about moving to Vietnam, Viet and his wife always knew they would return home one day.
“Our families are in Vietnam, and we thought it was time to get closer to our families. Besides, I have friends who returned to work in Vietnam, and I know the tech industry is booming, so there were a lot of opportunities in the job market,” he explains.
When you decide to do anything, whether it is moving to another country or diving into another work culture, set your intentions, accept the challenge, put in your best effort and commit to it – there is no try
Viet applied to various positions last July and was connected to Harry Dao, a recruitment consultant at Michael Page Vietnam who works with tech companies in Ho Chi Minh City. Harry kept in touch with Viet and placed him in a role in a fintech company one month later.
“Even though I visit Vietnam during the holidays, working and living in Vietnam is a whole different story. I did not know what was expected of me. So before deciding to go back to Vietnam, I asked Harry and the HR representative from my new company a lot of questions to better understand what I was getting into.”
Transiting to the Work Culture in Ho Chi Minh City
When Viet arrived in Vietnam, he was quarantined as part of the country’s regulations to manage the COVID-19 outbreak. Based in Ho Chi Minh City, he started work remotely during quarantine with a heavy workload and found the new culture a tad challenging.
“The work culture in Asia, in general, is very result-driven, and it does not matter how you go about achieving the result,” explains Viet. “In France, everything is done according to protocols with a qualitative methodology.”
When his employer set up a new office, Viet could go to the office and mingle with his colleagues. And it was workplace camaraderie and open communication with his colleagues that helped Viet integrate smoothly into the new workplace.
According to Viet, computer science is a global language, and it will be easier for those working in the technology sector to assimilate into a new work environment. While his overseas experience got him the job in Vietnam, the key to integrating into a new culture also takes commitment and adaptability.
“When you decide to do anything, whether it is moving to another country or diving into another work culture, set your intentions, accept the challenge, put in your best effort and commit to it – there is no try,” says Viet.
Despite the initial challenges of adapting to the new work culture, Viet is getting used to the new environment. The avid traveller looks forward to travelling in the region once the situation with the COVID-19 outbreak improves.
The Tech Market Outlook in Vietnam
There is a huge demand for tech professionals in Vietnam. “Back in late June last year, after a friend introduced me to the job offer, I started looking around the Vietnamese market and realised that tech is a key domain in Vietnam now,” says Viet.
“Many international companies are setting up shops in Vietnam, and as a result, there are a lot of opportunities for experienced tech professionals, and the salaries are quite competitive. So I would say that it is one of the best countries, in terms of technology investment, in Asia now.”
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