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Tighten your shoelaces and get ahead, Viettel CEO advises staff

Monday, September 18, 2017, 10:53 GMT+7

The general director of Viettel, Vietnam’s largest mobile carrier, has encouraged its young employees to never stop dreaming and to continue contributing to the group’s growth at a recent meeting.

Major General Nguyen Manh Hung, CEO of the military-run group, delivered the message at a recent conference organized by the group's Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union chapter urging the young staff’s continued contribution to its prosperity.

While it is true that advancements in technology, including artificial intelligence, the Internet of things and social networks can empower young people, they can also overwhelm them.

Though youths are easily connected to millions of their peers, at the same time they can easily be led astray, lose connection with themselves and follow trends without attempting to find genuine values, Hung stressed.

He said that today’s youths are faced with so many challenges and hurdles to surmount.

“The older generation founded Viettel, but we will step down sooner or later. Viettel’s future therefore hinges largely on you, our dear successors,” the 55-year-old CEO noted.

He added that responsibility should begin with out-of-the-box thinking, and not limiting creativity based on experience conducive to the group’s success so far.

Hung did not identify immaturity and spontaneity – traits common among young staff – to be a weakness, as these characteristics reflect an energy exclusive to young people.

He pointed out that experienced staff are actually confined to a box with six walls, made up of all the data they have, their experiences, presumptions, and old knowledge. 

“The more seasoned they are, the harder the walls will be to break down,” he said.

Junior staff members, meanwhile, are free from restraint, allowing them to see a whole new world ahead. 

The major general underscored that young staff are also expected to keep expanding their professional knowledge and expertise, honing their command of foreign languages and keeping themselves updated on the world’s latest technological developments.

“We are not born winners, so do not let initial failures stand in your way,” Hung said.

The telco executive recalled a recent meeting with Truong Thanh Thuy, dubbed ‘Vietnam’s queen of startups.’

Thuy’s physical strength has drained, while her good looks have also withered thanks to a debilitating lung cancer, which has already progressed past a critical phase 4.

One year ago, the ambitious young woman cooperated with Viettel to deliver an ‘Hour of Code’ to Vietnam, a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries.

It was around then that she was diagnosed with cancer, dealing her a devastating blow.

Despite her ailing condition, her energy and zeal remain intact. 

The aspiring entrepreneur even said that the critical illness had bolstered her resolve and added meaning to her life.

Nguyen Manh Hung (left) and Duong Tri Thanh, CEO of national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, are pictured at an agreement signing ceremony in February 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Manh Hung (left) and Duong Tri Thanh, CEO of national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, are pictured at an agreement signing ceremony in February 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The young figurehead has stubbornly refused to yield to her adversities.

“Adversities are a wonder that life has brought us. As the group’s CEO, I’ve been seeking to create challenges for the young staff,” Hung said.

Hung then pointed to a book titled Be at the Table or Be on the Menu by S Jayakumar, a former Singaporean politician, lawyer and diplomat.

The memoir about the city-state offers a wide range of Jayakumar’s experience as an academic, Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Senior Minister in the Singapore Cabinet, serving alongside Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong and Lee Hsien Loong. 

The small nation’s decision to become a diner instead of a dish for other world powers to enjoy has proved wise, as only 25 years after their separation from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore grew into a thriving economy.

Hung stressed that Viettel’s young employees should raise the question themselves as to whether they are a victim or the cause of their own problems.

“If you are the victim, all you do is droop or cry over spilled milk. But if we realize that we are the cause, we will try to figure out solutions,” Hung told the audience.    

He then used Viettel’s Online Charging System (OCS), a convergence of information and telecommunication technology, as an example of developing effective solutions to changing economic conditions.

The success of other ambitious projects including the Viettel Luxury Phone, which boasts the Vertu design and several top security features, and a cyber-security project to protect clients online are both examples of Viettel’s youthful staff’s growing aspirations and resolve.  

“Viettel has taken great pride in creating a professional working environment abundant in challenges so that its young cadres can learn from mistakes, mature and awake their dormant potential,” he concluded.

Major General Nguyen Manh Hung was promoted from deputy general director to general director of Viettel in 2014.

Born in 1962, Hung graduated in electronics and telecommunications in Russia.

He then obtained a master's degree in telecommunications in Australia and another master's degree in business administration from the National Economics University in Hanoi.

Viettel’s services are now present in many foreign markets, including Laos, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Cameroon, Haiti, Mozambique, Burundi, Peru and Tanzania, through its outbound investment arm Viettel Global.

Viettel has also begun to operate in Peru, a market of 30 million people.

The company’s next goals are to penetrate Nigeria, with 180 million potential customers, and Ethiopia, a market of 100 million.

The firm has obtained a license to offer its services in the Congo, and is eyeing other Southeast Asian markets like the Philippines and Indonesia, plus others in Europe.

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