Minh Huong Nguyen is the CEO of Vietnam's Golden Communication Group. Minh talks to The Industry Leaders about her journey from TV presenter to CEO and shares her thoughts on why it's essential to invest in your employees.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I graduated from both the University of Culture and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities and achieved an MA from the University of Canberra (Australia). My first job was working for the Youth cultural House of Ho Chi Minh city as a producer and organiser.
Some years later, I was promoted to Vice Managing Director. At that time, my second job as a Master of ceremony and producer for Ho Chi Minh City Television. I also taught as visiting lecturer for some universities in Ho Chi Minh city.
One day, I found my life at a standstill. I couldn't find the motivation to unleash my energy anymore, so I took Golden Communication group's offer to become Managing Director of one of their companies. Five years later, the BOD promoted me to Chief Executive Officer of the whole group.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I am CEO of a group consisting of five companies and 150 employees within a dynamic industry which is always developing and full of uncertainty. My personal management style is more team-oriented, so I prioritise staff unity and encourage individual employees' efficiency, rather than focusing on administration or micromanagement. To be an effective leader, I must precisely visualise the creation of an administration system and then establish and cultivate that system efficiently.
Training is an essential component that helps our employees develop themselves to adapt to changes and be proactive in improving their gifts and talents. Fostering a safe and friendly internal environment helps individuals bond and feel truly cared for.
In this way, I see myself as more of an architect who builds-up each individual to be greater and happier as we achieve success collectively. In summary, I would say that while my personal role is a creative one, it also requires a high level of commitment and care.
What gets you excited about your industry?
An agency involving marketing and communications is a rapidly changing industry. Working in such an environment has made us adaptive and agile while still continually learning. Most of my personal excitement comes from the opportunity to accumulate and enrich my knowledge when communicating with others representing various industries and companies. For example, because of my exposure and client relationships, I can now deeply comprehend products such as coffee, cellphones, dairy, beverages, vaccines, and food supplements, etc. As a direct result, my life and knowledge have become much more sophisticated and fulfilling. Last but not least, this industry has refined a "dare to challenge" attitude, which inspires me to always move forward with optimism.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I learned an inspiring quote from my mother. She always says: "You have to take control of your own life and not let someone else do that."
Her saying allowed me to learn and train to be proactive, always looking to explore knowledge, and experience various activities for myself. I have learned to live actively and not be dependent on others to decide my life and fate. When I grew up, her saying pushed me to achieve freedom and independence for my decisions. Like Archimedes said: "Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth." To be self-disciplined in making decisions and development, I believe one must have a firm foundation of knowledge, experience, finance, targets, and areas in which a person can push oneself to develop and grow.
What, or who inspires you?
Besides my mother, Oprah Winfrey is another person who inspired me. Before I was a CEO, I had been an MC of a popular TV show, and I had learnt a lot about my job from her. She especially inspired me to never give up, saying: "Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don't fight them. Just find a new way to stand."
Every time I fail or face a new challenge, I remember her inspiring quote, and it strengthens me to explore all possible ways to overcome the difficulty which faces me. The way to growth and development is always challenging and full of difficulties. As long as you don't give up, you will find a way to your destination.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I always seize any opportunity to update my knowledge by membership in the following associations: Advertisement associations, marketing associations, Independent Agency Global "The Networkone."
I also collaborate and share my knowledge with communities about marketing, digital marketing, and data analysis. Further, I am a guest speaker for marketing and communication forums such as MMA Vietnam, Advertising.com, and I am a trainer for leaders of companies in various industries such as Sendo (E-commerce), Hoan My Hospital Network (Media and Hospital), etc. To help educate the new generation of people who work in communications and marketing, I also teach as a visiting lecturer for several universities in Vietnam.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
The most challenging project for me was crisis management for a company in the beverage industry. Their products had to be retrieved, and at the same time, their internal information systems were hacked. As we were involved in the situation together, our company and my email account were also hacked. We came to face a difficult decision because if we were to continue supporting the client, then the press and our client's rivals would surely ostracise our own company. Furthermore, other clients warned that they might not use our service anymore. On the other hand, if we abandoned the client, that would cause a huge ethical issue.
I decided to support the client to help them get through their toughest time. Though my decision may have hurt our company, ethically speaking, we just could not abandon our client at their lowest point.
I'm pleased to say that, with our help, the client gradually restored their production and actually improved their product quality, performance, etc.
By acting with integrity and commitment, we overcame this dilemma, proving in due time that this decision to stand by our client was the right one.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I have always thought that if our company had more investors, or that the IPO company had another US$10 million, the first thing I would do is to invite all employees to dinner at a five-star restaurant to celebrate! I would use the capital to invest and accelerate two projects regarding influencer marketing and social media networks.
I would also invest in improving our work environment to give employees more creativity. I would especially invest in staff training programs, instructing individuals who work in the agency profession to know how to relieve stress, achieve mindfulness, and take care of mental health. This would help them strengthen their connection with the industry and still be happy and full of joy.
Part of the capital could also be used to raise and care for children with disabilities to continue their education without disruption.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I start my day with 20 minutes of meditation, then I work-out at the gym or do yoga for an hour. After a long day of work, I entertain myself in various ways, such as: having a relaxing dinner at home with family, enjoying a chat with my children, writing blogs or books, visiting a meditation community, walking around the park with my friends, having a coffee, buying some books or shopping. I never want my life to be boring, so I usually enjoy a different way to stimulate myself each day.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
I wish that the agency community could have an association representing us. This would help to: facilitate mutual cooperation, develop and improve our abilities, as well as to help make clients show proper respect, including sufficient pay for agency services rendered.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
One book that changed how I perceive and act concerning business was The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann.
It taught me that one's value is measured by what they can bring to others, what they can do for the community, and/or for a company.
The premise is based on the norm of reciprocity; only expect to receive when you give. If you want to receive, give first. Smile at life, and life will smile back at you. This book inspired me to increase my values by sharing and giving to others and to the community.
How should people connect with you?