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The right stuff

Released at: 07:57, 11/08/2015 Human Resources in Vietnam

The right stuff

More is needed for Vietnamese talent to secure executive positions in foreign companies.

by Hoang Thu

Ford Vietnam recently appointed Mr. Pham Van Dung as its first Vietnamese Managing Director. According to Mr Mark Kaufman, President of Ford ASEAN, said: “Mr. Dung has been a key component of our Ford Vietnam executive team for a number of years and we are confident that he will continue to drive our growth and success as the leader of a very talented team,” Mr. Kaufman said. 

Previously, Mr. Pham Hong Hai was appointed as the first-ever Vietnamese Managing Director of HSBC Vietnam. “This is a proud moment not only for myself but also for all of the staff at HSBC Vietnam,” he said as he assumed the new position. “I’m immensely grateful for the trust that our clients, my colleagues, and the HSBC Group have placed in me.”

Mr. Dung and Mr. Hai are just two of many talented Vietnamese to be promoted to senior executive positions that were previously only filled by expatriates. According to Mr. Jon Whitehead, Country Manager at Robert Walters Vietnam, the quality of candidates in Vietnam has increased and is still improving. “We are seeing more changes across industries that allow companies to have a good variety of employees,” he said.

High demand

Vietnam continued on the path towards recovery in the second quarter of 2015, assisted by robust growth in the manufacturing sector. According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Van Anh, Managing Director of Navigos Search, a provider of executive search and management consultancy services, they quite often see huge recruitment demand in the automobile, electrical, electronics, textile, chemical, and mechanical manufacturing sectors. “Besides middle- and high-level positions in textile and electronics such as engineers, factory managers and plant managers are also in dire need of placements,” she added. 

“Communication and leadership skills are among the soft skills that many people at the beginning of their career, not only Vietnamese people, lack. In today’s world, where information is abundant and a diversity of people can be seen in the same workplace, communication and leadership are important, especially for multinational corporations.”

Mr. Gaku Enchizenya, CEO, Navigos Group

Manufacturing and banking and finance are usually among the Top 5 “hot” sectors in terms of recruitment demand in Vietnam. According to a report from Navigos Search on the demand for middle and senior-level staff in the country, based on its clients’ orders, manufacturing ranked second in the second quarter, just behind retail. 

Engineers in smartphone manufacturing and textiles both ranked in third position. The strong recruitment in engineers in smartphone manufacturing comes from manufacturers and their satellite companies boosting production in Vietnam, while recruitment demand in the textiles industry reflects the positive overall performance of the sector. Vietnam ranked fourth in terms of major textile exporting countries, with total value at $12.18 billion in the first half of this year, according to figures from the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex). Information technology and banking and finance, which saw no significant fluctuations in the recruitment of middle and senior-level staff in the second quarter, stood in fourth and fifth position, respectively. 

Samsung is determined to localize not only production materials but also its workforce as an alternative to foreign professionals. Mr. Ha Chan Ho, Strategic Advisor to Samsung in Vietnam, told VET that Samsung’s long-term strategy in Vietnam is to become a company that is run by Vietnamese people. Of the more than 100,000 employees at its factories in northern Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen provinces, there are only 100 South Koreans. “The ratio is 1:1000, which shows that Samsung is strongly committed to developing the local management workforce,” he said.

Still, an observation of Vietnam’s workforce reveals a shortage of talent, resulting in fierce competition among both multinational and local companies to secure the services of quality employees. In order to recruit more talent, Samsung must use both professional HR consultancies and its own recruitment team, according to Mr. Ho.

Organizations in Vietnam are moving towards succession planning with Vietnamese professionals in the long-run, according to Mr. Whitehead. “While many businesses want their management team to be Vietnamese, candidates with the relevant experience and skills required in this area are still rare,” he said. 

There are some soft skills that Vietnamese human resources usually lack to be promoted to executive positions. Typically, they need to improve their ability to think long term, adopt a global mindset, and strengthen their stakeholder management skills, according to Mr. Whitehead. “We also see a lack in strong English communication skills, critical thinking, and analytical skills,” he said. The key traits of a management professional - evaluation and reflection - can also be improved upon, he added. 

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