We caught up with Thien Thanh (TT) Nguyen, CEO and managing director of Edelman Vietnam, to talk about her passion for women’s equality and how she builds stronger teams by understanding the need for diversity.
What is your role and how long have you been at Edelman?
My title is CEO but I could be an account executive - guess we all are at Edelman! I have been with Edelman Vietnam for three years, but it honestly feels like much longer. I feel like I fit in.
How do you describe what you do for a living to your family and friends?
I used to joke that my job is “go to meetings and sell creative ideas” for a living. And of course, not many of my family members are able to figure out what I am doing.
Since I started working for Edelman, my most convenient explanation is that my job is to build trust for our clients. This answer is much much better received. They all say: “Ahhh … trust!!! That’s good!!”
What attracted you to Edelman? Following that, what is your favorite thing about working here?
I like the fact that Edelman really focuses on people and employee culture and we walk the talk – from career development, training, people’s activities both in and outside the office. Anytime I work on team and company culture, I get the best support.
I’ve worked at various creative agencies for nearly 18 years, and ad people are notoriously not good listeners. The best thing I learned over the course of my career is to be a good listener, and it is so uplifting that at Edelman, my bosses are great at listening.
Professionally, at Edelman, I’ve been introduced to risk management tactics, data analysis and all of the possibilities they create for our clients. It gives me the ability to grow, and I am thrilled.
What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
Working together with the team to put the Edelman brand on the map of Vietnam. Over the past few years, we have been able to create such a good reputation for Edelman Vietnam. It went from “Edelman what?” to “Edelman is very strong at strategic thinking and risk management.”
Are we completely satisfied by what we’ve achieved so far? Not really. But looking back, I can proudly say it has been my favorite project.
Will you describe your time as an IWF delegate? What did you learn from attending the event?
As a huge supporter of women’s empowerment and career development, the International Women’s Forum was quite an overwhelming experience. I learned about so many issues related to women all over the world, that unity can make big change in helping women succeed both personally and professionally, that no woman is alone in her journey, that you can do many things to help each other and that you can get help if needed. After IWF, I became much more vocal about women’s rights and women’s equality.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell myself to not be so afraid of failure. Failure is always a learning experience. I would also tell myself not to try so hard to impress people, speak your mind, be yourself, be constantly curious and genuinely care.
I particularly take an interest in people who have strong opinions, but are open to listening and learning from others, simply because they are genuinely passionate about some subject. Never assume — presumptuousness doesn’t rate highly in my book.
What have you learned about yourself as your career progressed?
I learned that I might work people too hard; I tend to non-stop challenge the team because I like to be challenged.
Over the course of my career I’ve learned how to work with different personalities, different types of thinking, different talents and how to bring out the best of this diversity.
I’ve learned that nobody succeeds alone. And that I should always build a team that can function well with me or with someone who replaces me eventually.
What are some causes that you are passionate about?
I’m passionate about industry’s education and women’s equality. I make sure that I am active, highly involved and support as much as I can when it comes to building stronger generations for the communications industry and anything relating to women’s issues.
What are some of your favorite things to do after work?
There are so many things that I like outside of work, countless!!! I enjoy reading, watching movies, traveling, eating, chatting over coffee with friends, gardening. When I don’t have much time after work, Netflix is my place and I am a junkie. I watch everything from sitcoms to cooking shows to thrillers and action movies.
My favorite film director of all time is Jacques Audiard, he directed “Read My Lips,” “Rust and Bone,” “Dheepan,” “A Prophet” and many others – his movies get me head over heels over and over again. I once thought I’d be happy mopping the floor on his movie’s set in order to observe how he shot his films.
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