FPT Corporation is Phạm Minh Tuấn’s “first love and only love” — he’s been with the company for over 25 years now, straight from the university and never left since. Tuấn started his career as a developer. From a working level position to holding 15 different roles in product and project management, business development, as well as customer management, he’s also been to other countries in Asia, North America, and Europe.
Presently, Tuấn is the CEO of FPT Software whose mission is to transform the company into a world-class billion-dollar firm by 2023. In the past, he served as the Technology Director of FPT India in 1999 and the Vice President of FPT Software from 2006 to 2010.
In this episode of Vietnam Innovators, Tuấn talked about his 25-year journey, why he remained loyal to the company and how they continue to transform business, technology, and people.
Building a company culture
FPT Software is the leading technology company in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. In the last 23 years, FPT Software pioneered in building and developing Vietnamese-branded software, applying technology to life, and creating benefits for people and businesses. And they continue to modernize national backbone industries, providing young people with education and practical training. The company also leads the software export sector and contributes to bringing Vietnamese wisdom to the world.
In Vietnam, most of the extensive information systems in state agencies and key economic sectors are built and developed by FPT. Tuấn revealed that FPT Software gained its first success in Japan. At the moment, they consider three pillars of their success — Japan, North America, and Europe.
When asked why he stayed for 25 years in the same company, Tuấn shared his reasons. As cliche as it may sound, he stayed this long because he could be his true self while working at FPT. “FPT’s leaders allow people to do the job their way,” he said. “They just give the mission, and they give you the freedom to do the job and achieve the goals.”
Because of the different roles Tuấn filled in in the past, he believes it’s one of the reasons he made it this far and long. He called it “experiments” — handling different responsibilities while in different locations.
Tuấn trusts that he and his colleagues have lived up to their dream of bringing Vietnam intelligence to the world. “From the beginning, nobody knew about Vietnam, but nowadays, Vietnam is in the top 10 destinations for software service.”
Talking about the tough years in the industry, Tuấn revealed that there was never a time he ever thought of giving up something he was tasked to accomplish. However, he revealed that the leaders and investors of FPT Software considered giving up from 1999 to 2004 because it was an extremely difficult time for the company. Looking back, he’s thankful the decision was always to go on and keep doing what they do best.
“Honesty and transparency”
Operating in 26 countries and territories can be a real challenge, but for FPT Software, they do it flawlessly with their processes and support from their leaders. But hiring the right people is the key to making it happen.
Tuấn was asked how they encourage their teams to embrace innovation across a diverse staff and mostly from the younger generations; he said, “We don’t force our people to do something. If they feel comfortable, they will follow, and if they don’t, they stop.” He went on to say their principle is to “be yourself.”
“We try to do innovation through the daily activities. We always ask what we can do better tomorrow.”
Tuấn also shared an anecdote that companies looking at expanding outside Vietnam can learn from. It was in 2002, they met their very first Japanese client. After a fun dinner event where they sang the company signature song wholeheartedly together and networked, Tuấn asked the Japanese investor why he decided to do business with FPT Software, and the client said, “When you sing, I see the teamwork.”
Whenever they go to other markets and countries, Tuấn always carries the FPT Software “honesty and transparency.” And he believes it has helped them a lot in closing business deals.
Overall, FPT Software focuses on transforming three pillars — business, IT, and people. “We have to transform the people first. Otherwise, the technology is there, but nobody uses it.”