In the afternoon, after lunch at a fantastic little French restaurant in District 2, La Villa, my classmates and I loaded onto the bus to head over to Intel.
“We believe our technology can enrich people’s lives.”
The company itself enriches people’s lives in Vietnam. We were toured all throughout the very colorful building to see just how hard Intel works to create a positive and comfortable work environment at this campus. The general office space is open, with managers on the floor with their employees. A room for relaxation (“Chill Out”), exercise (“Sweat Room”), play (complete with pool table and all), and even creativity (to support the several musicians working there) cumulatively show Intel’s corporate goal to create a happy workforce.
Clearly they understand that finding good talent, and keeping them on staff, is no easy task. I really think it’s no coincidence that they’ve seen 24 years of positive net income – when you treat people right, they will pull your business forward and go to great lengths to do so!
Jeff Prunty, the Director of Vietnam Finance, gave us a background into this 100,000+ person company. It’s clear that once formal normalization of diplomatic relations happened between the U.S. and Vietnam in 1995, there was a profound effect on trade and business opportunity (as one would expect) causing rapid economic expansion in the country. Intel opened their office in Vietnam in 1997 and currently spends roughly $100M in 50 countries on education programs each year. A continued theme we heard on this trip is that there are great challenges with higher education in Vietnam. While the basic education system is good, many universities lack autonomy over their curriculum and are subject to bureaucratic control. Coursework and the personnel system are highly politicized causing an emphasis on rote memorization as opposed to the “western style” of promoting critical thinking and problem solving skills.
The high-tech sector needs a stable infrastructure, supply chain localization, human capital, and a simplified policy (the communist government leadership causes a lot of bureaucracy, although Jeff pointed out that Project 30 is a good start) in order to flourish in Vietnam. Intel is at the forefront of creating long-term partnerships and helping the government make this happen. As an example, they’re working to modernize the higher education system from strictly theory based learning to applied and practical application. I think it’s exciting they’re doing so much to pull the economy in this region of the world forward and making a lasting impact by improving collegiate programs.
When asked about his career path, and just how he ended up moving from the states to Vietnam, he imparted this wisdom to us:
“Opportunities will never come up at the perfect time, you’ll just have to be ready when they are presented.”