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Van Nguyen, from Vietnam, Product Manager, Cathay United Bank

pVan Nguyen from Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam graduated from the Taiwan Tech international MBA program in 2019, and started a careeras a Product Manager with Cathay United Bank, in the department of Global Transactions Services, Trade Finance and Corporate Lending. Before coming to Taiwan, Van has worked for HSBC Bank in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for more than six years. 

Q: Could you please tell us about your current work at Cathay United Bank?

Van: In my team, I am responsible for overseas product management. I am mostly working with the teams in our overseas branches and subsidiaries in Hong Kong and other South East Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia, and the Philippines. As a product manager, I am in charge of end-to-end product development and management: from overseas market research and regulation gap analyses to product implementation, local team training, and product performance monitoring. All this needs to be done remotely these days. The most challenging part of my work has always been the language barrier: All the documents are written in Chinese, and here, in the headquarters in Taipei, only Chinese is spoken. But the good thing is that my Chinese skills have greatly improved over the past three years.  

Q: Why did you choose Taiwan and Taiwan Tech for your MBA?

Van: Basically, for three reasons: First of all, I wanted to get the big picture of Asia, and I thought that Taiwan - a bridge between East Asia and South East Asia -  was a good place for me to explore the region, especially South East Asia, where I come from.
Secondly, I wanted to improve my Chinese language skills. I like Chinese and began learning Chinese when I was a student. In my work at HSBC Bank in Ho Chi Minh City, I often had to deal with Chinese-speaking customers, so I realized that Chinese was a very important language in the banking industry.
The third reason was that I met several alumni from Taiwan Tech who all shared very positive feedback about their alma mater. One of my friends, who is now a lecturer at the Foreign Trade University – my former university –
also strongly recommended me to study in Taiwan for its education quality and safety. After looking for more information from other sources, I was confident about my decision to choose Taiwan Tech, and moved to Taiwan to start a new journey.

Q: What were your experiences with the MBA program of Taiwan Tech School of Management? 

pVan: What I really liked about the MBA program was its internationality: there were far more international students than expected, especially exchange students from Europe. I made new friends, with whom I am still in touch. Also, the study trips to Japan, South Korea, and China were eye-openers, they really gave me a better understanding of East Asia’s business culture, just as I was hoping for.
I also enjoyed an elective course on South East Asian Business, where I did dome in-depth research on different business models and business environments in Vietnam and neighboring countries. I was also a big fan of the Business Chinese courses offered by the Language Centre, which taught me not only the language, but also its underlying beauty and culture.
The only thing that was missing was a summer internship program for international students. And I suggest that universities in Taiwan may consider providing more Business Chinese courses to prepare their students for the job market in Taiwan.


Q: Why did you decide to continue your career in Taiwan after graduation?

Van: Actually, I thought that it would be very difficult for a foreigner to find a position in Taiwan’s banking sector, but then I found this opportunity with Cathay bank that exactly met my demands. My work allows me to learn about the banking sector in Greater China and South East Asia. And, as I am based in the region, I can travel to Vietnam and other Asian countries. Unfortunately, all business trips have been put on hold over the last two years, but at least I had the chance to travel to our branches in Vietnam and Singapore in 2019.

Q: Which advice on job-hunting would you give to foreign graduates of Taiwan Tech?

Van: Apart from brushing up your Chinese, which is my most important piece of advice, I would recommend joining job-fairs and taking part in events organized by organizations like “Contact Taiwan”. Try to find opportunities to talk to recruiters. I remember that I couldn’t manage to book a face-to-face interview in an event hosted by “Contact Taiwan”. Encouraged by one of my friends, I still showed up at the event with my CV. Luckily, I saw a representative of an international bank in Taiwan just sitting there without talking to any candidate. So, I asked her if I could talk to her for a while about job opportunities in the banking industry in Taiwan. I received very good feedback from that HR manager and was invited for an interview in the following week. Another experience I would like to share is that: When you are screening jobs, you may consider applying for slightly lower positions to test out your chances to work in that sector in Taiwan. Once you are invited for an interview, you can shine and prove that you are capable. Then, you can ask the HR to come up with a position that best suits you and the company. 

Q. What are your career plans for the future?

Van: I am planning to do a second MBA degree at Texas Christian University in the United States, starting in autumn this year. I’m lucky to receive the full-tuition scholarship from the university. Of course, you might ask why I would go back to school for another degree in Business Administration. Well, first of all, after years in the banking industry, I want to learn more about business from the companies’ perspectives, and gain new skills such as data analytics. I think continuous learning is quite important. Also, after having lived all my life in Asia so far, I want to venture out and gain experience in the Western world.   


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