“Live your own life, defy expectations, and take the untravelled path.”
Vice President, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Executive Master in Finance 2018
In three sentences or less, could you tell us a little more about yourself?
I was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Throughout my career, I have worked in financial services and semiconductor companies where I held various finance-oriented roles, such as operational finance, corporate banking origination, and internal audit. I am now working for a major Japanese bank, where I focus on strategic planning and innovation in Asia's emerging markets.
Any fun facts?
After going to high school in Vietnam, I wanted to study overseas in a native English-speaking country. I chose Newcastle, England, without knowing that they speak a unique dialect called Geordie, which is hard to understand even for native English speakers!
It was like having to learn two languages at once, which was very challenging. But I also learnt an important lesson: that the English language is very diverse, and that true English proficiency requires an understanding of the language's many forms.
Why did you choose INSEAD, and what makes the EMFin different from other Masters in Finance?
I chose INSEAD because of its reputation and location, as well as the fact that I could do the programme part-time while I continued to hold a job, gain experience, and gain income to offset the cost of my degree.
What is one important lesson you learnt from INSEAD?
INSEAD taught me that soft skills are just as important for a successful career as technical knowledge and access to capital. It also taught me the importance of having a multidisciplinary background to complement deep capabilities in any specific domain.
While I chose to build a career in financial services, I always try to bolster my specialist skills with general knowledge from a wide array of fields, such as psychology, history, and even the arts!
How has your career changed since INSEAD?
After INSEAD, I moved from an internal audit role in a semiconductor firm to a strategic planning role in a major bank. The knowledge and network that I gained from INSEAD were extremely helpful in handling that transition.
How did you juggle studies, work and personal time during your time at INSEAD?
I started INSEAD in September 2016, and in that same month, my father was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. It fell upon me to take care of him, even though I still had a full-time job in addition to my studies. Until today, I still don't know how I managed to juggle all these responsibilities, but I also learnt that sometimes it's the difficult times in life where you grow the most.
What does it mean to you to be Limitless?
Like many Vietnamese women, I grew up being told that the most important thing in a woman's life is getting married and having kids, and I faced a lot of pressure to conform to social standards that prioritise family over career. While I totally respect women who make family their top priority, I also believe that women should not be trapped by the social narratives that surround them.
Being limitless means being able to choose your own path and not feel guilty to follow your own personal dreams, even if that means defying expectations and taking an untravelled path.
What are you most passionate about?
My passion is to support people, especially women who are dealing with the many pressures of work and family life. My ultimate dream is to publish an educational children's book that helps to empower young women to choose their own priorities and find the right balance in their lives.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is failing to live my life to the fullest. Especially when I get stuck in the trap of routines or the grind of day-to-day responsibilities, I worry that my older self will look back and be sad about the opportunities that were missed. This is why I try to push myself to take risks and try new things.
What do you love about yourself?
At 145cm, I am very petite. This used to be a big challenge, especially when working with men in professional settings, where I was sometimes overlooked and undermined because of my physique. But over the years, I learned to stand up for myself. Even if you are short like me, it is possible to stand tall and earn the respect you deserve!