Wayne Besant vividly remembers the first day he set foot in Vietnam in May of 2015. The sky was whirling in the heat of a tropical summer day; it felt like entering a giant sauna!
“And then came the next discovery, the density of life and the huge numbers of people and motorbikes everywhere. It was quite mind-blowing!” he recalls in his book. From that first day in May and with limited knowledge about Vietnam, he now proudly claims to be 50% “Người Việt”.
Some of his colleagues refer to him as “Mr. Vietnam” — an endearing and fitting name for someone who has a tremendous love for this country. Throughout his journey in Vietnam, the experiences, the memories, and the gratitude to the country and people, nurtured the inspiration and gave life to the book “Trên mảnh đất kiên cường - Wayne in Vietnam: In the Land of Resilience.”
Wayne’s adventure in Vietnam grew even more amazingly shortly after his arrival. After the introduction of 30 AIA Vietnam managers, he flew to Hue to meet the AIA General Agency Directors. Despite not being able to speak or pronounce Vietnamese, Wayne attempted to remember and pronounce the names of the directors, and at the conclusion of the session, he properly named each of them Dung, Phuc, Loan, and so on. That effort demonstrated the new CEO’s goodwill, genuine connection, honesty, and eagerness to learn. Wayne instantly got compassion from everyone, and things home built from that foundation.
Since then, he has had countless personal interactions with the people here. “I travel a lot. So far, I have been to more than 50 of Vietnam’s 63 provinces,” a particular mark highlighted in the book. The more Wayne travels, reads, and interacts with people here, the luckier and happier he feels to be in Vietnam.
And, without a doubt, seven years is not the end. “I am so grateful to have this experience, to give back, and contribute to the development of the country.” Wayne’s passion for Vietnam is evident throughout his book.
Seven-year mark at AIA Vietnam
Wayne Besant is the longest-serving CEO the insurance industry in Vietnam has ever had. In business, the final verdict always comes down to the numbers. And during Wayne’s seven years in office, AIA Vietnam’s income has increased six-fold, from $120 million to $700 million. Total sales climbed eight times via both agency and bancassurance.
Wayne Besant is regarded as an exceptional leader for implementing a sustainable growth plan that has propelled AIA Vietnam to new heights. AIA Vietnam has grown significantly every year and ranks comfortably among the country’s top five life insurance companies by market share. AIA Vietnam is a significant market in the AIA Group, the world’s largest life insurance. AIA Vietnam team grew from 500 to 1,200 employees under Wayne’s leadership.
“Results are a function of many things. I have learned over many years, that sustainable results are achieved by the efforts of motivated, empowered, and engaged staff,” Wayne shared emotionally in the book.
In addition to being recognized for his outstanding contribution to the company’s financial performance, Wayne has also set the course for AIA Vietnam’s community engagement. He has had a clear influence on the management team in terms of both leadership skills and a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Seven years under Wayne’s leadership, coupled with his energy, has helped position the company as one of the most connected with its social responsibility agenda. It is no coincidence that AIA Vietnam was the first company in Vietnam to be recognized as a ‘Great Place To Work’ for four consecutive years.
Furthermore, Wayne and AIA Vietnam consistently aim to provide better financial solutions while enhancing physical health and wellbeing, with the philosophy of “What is good for Vietnam is good for AIA Vietnam.”
Recently, the “Mạnh mẽ Việt Nam” campaign created a place for people to share the spirit of strength, working together to become the best version of themselves to build a resilient Vietnam after going through the transition period caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wayne has also grown with his team, but his humility remains the same. “I feel lucky to live in Việt Nam, my second home - Đó là may mắn của tôi, đã sống và làm việc ở Việt Nam,” wrote Wayne in his book.
“I am humbled and proud to be self-proclaimed for the role of project curator and leader. Going through 18 months from the initial concept to the official launch, the book became a great source of motivation and guidance for me in professional development at AIA Vietnam,” said Tran Thi Lien Phuong, Head of Brand and Communication.
“Trên mảnh đất kiên cường - Wayne in Vietnam: In the Land of Resilience” is a special book about special people in a special place. To discover that specialness, readers can order the book here.