Sonatus, a new premium office building in Saigon’s CBD, has some of the highest concentration of multinationals and Vietnam’s industry champions. Over the next few weeks, as part of our Voices from Sonatus series, we will be interviewing CEOs and executives about what it’s like to work at one of Saigon’s most prestigious addresses.
Today we return to Sonatus as guests of Tracey Trang Do, Human Resources Director at Shopee Vietnam.
A leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, Shopee first launched in Singapore in 2015, and has since expanded its reach to Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. At first operating primarily as a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) marketplace, it has evolved into a hybrid C2C and business-to-consumer (B2C) model providing customers with an easy, secure and fast online shopping experience.
Shopee’s partnership with JCB International (JCBI) announced earlier this month in a number of markets including Vietnam promises online merchants and shoppers even more payment options, as well as offering year-round and seasonal discounts.
In Vietnam, where Shopee has been present since 2016, the company operates out of a number of offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Tracey shows us around Shopee’s Saigon headquarters and explains why the move to Sonatus was crucial to simplifying the task of managing a rapidly expanding team.
Since entering Vietnam in 2016, what has Shopee’s experience been like?
When we started in Vietnam in 2016, we had a shared office with another company at Petronas Tower in District 1. In 2018, we moved to Saigon Center but we outgrew that space very quickly, and that's how we ended up having the second office location in HCMC at Sonatus building. When you look at our growth in the past 3-4 years, the pace is staggering. The campaigns we ran in 2017, 2018 and 2019 were each bigger than the last, and that growth is reflected in our increased manpower and more complex office space requirements.
Considering your accelerated growth, how do you make sure your employees are happy and productive?
When designing the new office, it was important for us to include as many collaborative areas as possible. The staff cafeteria, for example, was built as a space for team members to get together and collaborate on projects. At Shopee, we have flexible working hours and our associates can take meal breaks, convene for meetings, engage in various work-related activities when it suits them best, as long as they maintain their productivity throughout the day.
So, to answer your question, I would say that our corporate culture encourages creativity, collaboration and flexibility through providing a work environment where our employees feel happy and fulfilled and where they can be engaged in truly impactful projects.
For new graduates, what's the best place to prepare for leadership: education or on the job?
I think both. At school, with all the projects and activities, you have plenty of opportunities to hone your leadership skills as club president, newspaper editor or project manager. As a new grad, joining a company like Shopee, you’ll find yourself in a very different environment. Projects assigned to you will be small at first and you will have to learn about leadership on the fly: developing leadership skills first, tutoring peers next, before finally taking on a management role.
How important is the office experience to your team's performance?
With our new office, we wanted to build a conducive and collaborative working environment for our employees. We looked at a number of options but in the end we chose Sonatus as it offered a flexible layout, meaning we were able to create exactly the kind of a modern collaborative office concept that we had in mind.
Another factor working in favor of Sonatus was its premium location in the heart of District 1. With so many amenities right on our doorstep, we are able to support our employees not only during office hours, but after work as well.
In addition, Sonatus is a premium grade building with ample floor space, and for us, being able to design a collaborative environment with everyone under one roof was crucial. Since we have several floors at Sonatus, we managed to build a bigger cafeteria for our employees, who can now enjoy their own food right here in the office, if they prefer, without going out for lunch. There are also multi-purpose spaces and training rooms. Overall, we are very pleased with the outcome and we hope our employees are too.