Is my ad strong enough to go live?
Will consumers basket my new packaging?
Fast and flexible online surveys
Is my digital brand campaign effective?
Covering Vietnamese consumers' out of home eating and drinking behavior.
Is my digital campaign reaching the right audience?
INSIDE THE LAB
Decision Lab is now looking for 2 more Associates to join the team. Learn more about the vacancy.
The shared experience of anticipation and insecurity resonated, and so too did the perception of boundless opportunity once those hurdles were surmounted.
Of course, we wanted to dig even deeper by exploring a cross-section of human-interest stories on the same topic. We decided to share the stories of three members of our team, each of whom have a unique and very personal take on both the challenges and opportunities of coming home to Vietnam.
Hoang has been away from Vietnam for sixteen years. Ten years in Russia and six years in UK for his studies, finishing with a Master of Strategic Marketing Management degree from Aston University in 2016. He has been back in Vietnam for one year now, relocating to Ho Chi Minh City to work with Decision Lab.
Of those who have returned, most entered the vocational field dictated by their studies. There’s a minority of friends who have changed their professional focus entirely. However, the common theme both for myself and amongst my peers is the challenge of finding a professional environment to which we feel we truly belong. The goal is not only to find an environment in which to learn, but also where our skills are valued.
Today, I’m an Associate at Decision Lab. When I finished my degree in the UK, and after I had returned to Vietnam, I wanted to pursue a career with a market research agency. But at that time I lived in Hanoi and there weren’t many opportunities to do what I’m doing right now—tracking complex consumer behavior in a fast-developing region. That pushed me into the decision to move to Ho Chi Minh City, where I perceived the opportunities to be much greater. And of course that in turn led to my current position with Decision Lab.
I lived abroad for 16 years in Russia and I also spent some time studying in the UK. Naturally, after a certain amount of time in any one place passes you have a feeling of belonging. That happened to me in Russia. I remember thinking, while I was at high school there, that I’d become more Russian than Vietnamese. Then, when I met and spent time with Vietnamese people who were studying at the same university as I was in the UK, I started to re-engage with my sense of self as a Vietnamese.
With such a long time away, the feelings I experienced on coming back were pronounced, but quite quickly things just clicked. This was helped by an overriding sense of familiarity, despite all the time that had passed. Today, I feel like I’m 100% Vietnamese. I belong here. And I guess, it also helps that I really love Vietnamese food.
When I was onboarding at Decision Lab, Dat, my ex-lead in the team, taught me a lot. My background was in statistics, but I had no experience in consulting. Dat generously guided me through the process of translating my hard skills into actionable insights—to articulate our understanding in ways clients can engage with. Actually, I learnt that sometimes clients are not even sure what they want. Dat showed me that we can actually lead them towards more concrete expectations.
We work with a lot of numbers. Being exposed to the professional expertise of people like Dat, who can relate this data on a human level, is something I will always aspire to achieve. I’ve switched teams since, but I still look up to his level of professionalism.
Phuong Anh spent seven years abroad in the US. She’s been with Decision Lab since returning to Vietnam in August 2017. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2016.
I grew up in Ho Chi Minh City. I’m used to the energy and the crowds. I also appreciate having access to the amazing food and also to the nightlife here. I wouldn’t compare it to anywhere in the US, except for maybe New York. Ho Chi Minh City is just so incredibly busy. Everything is always in motion, things move nonstop, and new things are popping up all the time—there’s a palpable sense that everything here is booming both economically and culturally. Plus my family are here with me which helps this feel like home.
Originally, my preference was not to come back just yet. I was hoping to stay in the US for a little while longer. But various circumstances that arose a few months ago forced the move. I have to admit, I was sad in the beginning. But I was already prepared to move back to Vietnam at some point. Now I feel much stronger and rather glad that I moved back early, especially with all of the social instability in the US right now. I also have a greater appreciation of how much Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam has changed since I’ve been abroad. It’s good to be back home.
Currently my team has four people—myself, two of my seniors, and another associate. We’re a closely-knit team which means we can share experiences and opinions freely. I feel like I’m learning a lot as well as making friends in the company. We’re working a lot on our data books and reports for our clients, given that it’s nearing the end of the year. We’re also planning an event in collaboration with EuroCham for the end of the year.
I’d say that where I’m working is truly international. That’s mostly because my peers have such diverse backgrounds. Many of them have studied abroad, often in countries other than the US. I’ve been able to learn from their experiences living and studying in countries I’ve never been to. I think we share an open mindedness towards how we adapt to challenges and opportunities and how we approach our work and life. We also share a willingness to learn about Vietnam and to adapt to its modern incarnation. It is our home, but many of us have been away for so long.
I’ve met some Viet Kieus and other Asians from countries like Japan and Singapore who are living here. It’s been eye-opening and fun to meet a lot of different people. It’s helped me to understand how attractive Ho Chi Minh City can be to foreigners who are here to invest, work, study or even just to travel.
An studied for nearly three years in New Zealand, earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing and International Business at the Victoria University of Wellington in 2016. She’s been back in Vietnam for more than a year.
When I moved to New Zealand, it didn’t cross my mind that I would come back to Vietnam to work one day. I initially came back because I wanted to take a break from New Zealand for a while. But when I first returned to Vietnam, I experienced a feeling of reverse culture shock. It took me two months before I was even able to apply for a job. During that time, I was just focused on adjusting to day-to-day life here.
When, finally, I felt ready, I began my search for jobs and applied for roles in market research. I was lucky to stumble upon Decision Lab. At first I didn’t expect much. I thought Vietnam would be very different from New Zealand. I assumed there wouldn’t be many chances to work in an international environment with professional, talented people speaking English all day.
But after starting my career with Decision Lab and meeting with other young professional Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh City, I’ve realized that Decision Lab is just one among many new, emerging companies in Vietnam. There are a lot of opportunities here, but it’s up to us to explore, develop, and learn too. The longer I live in Ho Chi Minh City, the more I realize that I love living here.
In my team I’ve had the chance to work with so many great people, even though they are kind of nutty—in a good way. There’s one coworker who’s amazing at math. She has an obsession with calculations and details. But somehow I find that really intriguing. I’m not an expert in math, but I’m learning a lot from her expertise.
The greatest thing about coming back is the food. That alone has helped Vietnam feel more like home than the food in New Zealand ever could. Other than that, I interned for various companies here before applying for a full-time role. That helped me to understand what kind of working environment would suit me best. I met great people and I managed to try new career options that I wouldn’t have considered in New Zealand.
These stories have been shared and produced in partnership with Ho Chi Minh City-based media company Vietcetera.
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