On this day, two years ago, Vietcetera aired the first episode of Vietnam Innovators podcast. For 24 months, even when the global pandemic forced us to relocate the studio virtually, a total of 91 episodes with nearly 100 guests and three seasons were produced.
Gojek' Duc Phung, the country general manager, graced the very first podcast episode. Duc talked about Gojek’s journey and the purpose of the re-branding from GoViet to Gojek. The episode on YouTube has over 40,000 views.
As we celebrate the second year of Vietnam Innovators, we've rounded up the best episodes chosen and ranked by our editors, including a few points from the discussions.
10. Greg Ohan
We're starting the list with Season 1's episode 3 guest, the Property Concierge Greg Ohan. He is the CEO and Co-Pioneer of The Sentry, a bespoke ‘inter-local’ real estate firm. Greg referred to it as, "It's like HSBC, the world’s local bank, the concept is to bring international standards and make it local." Thus, calling it inter-local.
When asked about The Sentry's long-term goals, Greg responded, "We understand that a lot of developers here in Vietnam need someone that understands how to operate a building, not a brand that's built around solely attracting tenants, which is the first step. The second step, and most difficult step, is management and continuity. Not just talking the talk but walking the walk. That's what's really been lacking, and that's a lot of pain that developers have in the market."
To Greg, his innovation is directed at putting the human element into the management side of the property.
True to what he said two years ago, The Sentry has since expanded — The Sentry Z, located at the heart of District 1, is expected to welcome its tenants anytime this year, and another exciting spot in District 2 that coming very soon.
9. Bruce Delteil
Coming up next is Bruce Delteil, the managing partner of McKinsey & Company’s Vietnam office. Bruce, who works at the intersection of digital, strategy, and implementation, serves leading corporations, local conglomerates, state-owned enterprises, and multinationals not just in Vietnam but in all of Southeast Asia.
A French native but Asian by heart (having spent more than half of his life in countries like Singapore and Indonesia, and now Vietnam), Bruce has extensive experience in helping clients with strategic planning and growth to large-scale transformations and mergers, and acquisitions. He designs end-to-end product journeys for companies and supports them throughout the process of becoming the “giants of tomorrow.”
Leading McKinsey’s work on merger management in Southeast Asia, Bruce’s main role is introducing and emphasizing the importance of digital ecosystems to business leaders and investors.
8. Kelly Tran
Having dedicated her life to Computer Science, Kelly spent her first decade as a technology expert in the US. Upon her return to Vietnam, she set a new goal: to apply her tech know-how to an emerging technology concept like F&B, leading her to Pizza 4P’s.
For everyone who loves the Pizza 4P’s brand, it’s all about the dine-in experience. So when the company started offering delivery, Kelly had to answer a tough but necessary question: “What’s the at-home experience we want our customers to have?”
To the Chief Innovation Officer, “It’s not just about getting the pizza to the oven, then packaging it in the box, giving it to the delivery person until it reaches the home of the customers. But every little touchpoint in between matters.”
Pizza 4P's is not only offering top-notch and superb food on their tables but also innovation at its finest.
7. Soames Hines
To say that Soames Hines is a veteran in the marketing and communications industry may come as an understatement. With over 40 years of client and agency roles under his belt (or suspenders, which he’s known for in his circle), Soames has seen the evolution of the industry across Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam.
In January 2020, Soames became the CEO of Ogilvy Vietnam, where he pours all his passion for building culture and capability, as well as pioneer thought leadership on Brands in Culture and Modern RAD Creativity.
“Vietnam has a big runway for growth, probably better than any other market," he said. "And the work ethics here, of the Vietnamese, is stronger. The entrepreneurial spirit and the talent base are huge.”
Soames has set his hopes high to build the next generation of marketing talents that will reaffirm Ogilvy’s reputation as the best place to work for and clients’ most preferred agency.
6. Pranav Seth
“Innovate.Execute.Win,” is the statement that welcomes you when visiting Pranav Seth’s LinkedIn page. In this episode of Vietnam Innovators, Pranav talked about why it matters for the banking sector to adopt digitalization and also shared a couple of exciting advancements Techcombank is preparing for its users.
He mentioned a couple of reasons why digitalization is of the essence to banks, one of which is to serve the digital customers. “If all customer experiences in their day-to-day life are based on their digital experiences — simple, instant, hopefully transparent — and the banking system is not delivering that, you are leaving yourself for someone else to deliver banking in a different manner,” Pranav said.
At the end of the day, banks need to undergo digitalization to serve digital customers. And Pranav’s mission at Techcombank is to be at the forefront of the digitalization of banks.
5. Leon Cai
Leon Cai, the Regional Director of Enterprise Singapore, a government agency championing and supporting Singaporean enterprise development, innovation, transformation, and globalization, visited the studio to share a few pieces of advice to companies looking to invest in Vietnam.
According to Leon, many companies view Vietnam as a homogenous market. But it's important to acknowledge that with each different region, you need to adapt your business strategy: “it's never one-size-fits-all.” His last piece of advice is “Bạn, Bàn, Bán.” Make friends before you talk about business over a meal, and then afterward, that's when you sign the deal. In Vietnam, it’s all about building relationships with people.
4. Shuyin Tang
The idea that women entrepreneurs in Vietnam are not getting enough funding or are often sidelined by Venture Capitalists has always bothered Shuyin Tang.
But Shuyin didn’t wait for an answer. She created the solution herself when she built Beacon Fund, which aims to make the fundraising process more transparent and accessible for female entrepreneurs. Today, Beacon Fund does not just help small businesses to thrive, but recognizes and celebrates them and their victories, no matter how small.
“I think most companies are more like zebras — they come in different stripes,” said Shuyin. And these companies are, more than anything, interested in sustainable growth. They are characterized by doing real business, focusing on alleviating social challenges while also tending to their own profitability.
3. Pearl Hoang
This one's for the books! Daan van Rossum, CEO of Dreamplex and FlexOS, took over and hosted this episode. One user left a comment, saying, "I think inviting some brand new host could be a fresh air for Vietnam Innovators. Daan did a great job and brought some diversified aspects into the conversation."
In this episode, Creatory’s former Head of People Operation Pearl Hoang talked about how a “people’s perspective” drives innovation. A quick LinkedIn search of Pearl Hoang, and you’ll see that since 2007, her job titles always had the words ‘human’ or ‘people’ in them — an indication of her passion for human resources and the responsibilities that come with it.
When asked how she creates a good culture and how to sustain it, Pearl shared that from the beginning, companies must clearly understand not just what they do but also why they do it. It should come from the people running the company by asking themselves, “Who am I as a leader?”
2. Amanda Murphy
Also a woman empowering women, HSBC’s Head of Commercial Banking for South & Southeast Asia Amanda Murphy dropped by the studio to share her optimism for Vietnam’s growth story, define the “3Ds” propelling the country’s economic rise and make a strong case for narrowing the gender gap through the launch of the HSBC Female Entrepreneur Fund in Vietnam.
When asked what brought this idea to reality, Amanda said the business case is simple: “When we look more broadly across the world, women make up half the world’s population but account for less than 40% of GDP. So how can we unlock the talent and the potential that is in women? The more we can do – the more we can drive that contribution – the higher the GDP. That means employment increases, that means that families have more wealth, education, better healthcare, and that trickle effect.”
Doron Shachar, the founder and CEO of Renova Cloud, talked about the cloud’s relevance in today’s digital age, how they address clients’ needs, and the ideal employees they’re looking for.
Emmanuelle Gounot, CEO of Intrepid Vietnam, a company providing business support services in e-commerce. Powered by technology and digital tools, Intrepid focuses on three main areas: omnichannel store management, fully integrated digital marketing agency, and data and insight (which provides reporting tools for brands).
Bryan Carroll, CEO of Vietnam’s first digital-only bank TNEX, talked about their journey, the risks they see along the way, and the people they need on their team.
1. Horst Geicke
This particular episode signaled Vietnam Innovators is stepping up to a whole new level with the launch of the ‘Vietnam Innovators Fund.’
The investment fund will seek to support exclusively Vietnamese startups at seed and Series A funding rounds. The fund is backed by podcast host and Vietcetera CEO Hao Tran, digital media network Vietcetera, and German entrepreneur and investor Horst Geicke.
Here, the German-born investor, who is also the founder of VinaCapital and presently the co-investor and chairman of the Deutsches Haus in Ho Chi Minh City, discussed his journey and shared some of his goals for the Vietnamese market.
“I’m excited by the potential of the next generation of startups in Vietnam. I’ve always been a believer and an early investor in the country,” Horst said. “I want to be able to pave the way for a few of them through this new initiative.”