Meet Thanh Van Dang, A4I Steering Committee member and the next Asia Society-Victoria Distinguished Fellow
Thanh Van Dang, a member of the A4I Steering Committee, and founder and CEO of Savvycom was recently named as the next Asia Society-Victoria Distinguished Fellow.
We’re honoured to have Ms Van as a member of the A4I Steering Committee – her passion and belief in a beautiful life enabled by technology are proof of the transformative power of innovation.
Ms Van very kindly agreed to share some of her insights, observations and hopes for the future.
1. What are you looking forward to achieving as the Asia Society-Victoria Distinguished Fellow?
Throughout my fellowship I hope to engage with industry leaders from Australia, to generate new ideas, and promote greater economic, strategic and cultural connectivity between Australia, Victoria and Vietnam. I hope to develop new approaches and practical solutions to business engagement between Victoria and Viet Nam.
Besides, as Vietnam’s major cities continue to experience rapid development and urbanisation, this was a precious chance for us to gain valuable experiences as well as new perspectives from Victoria’s leading experts.
I look forward to promoting the potential of Vietnam’s economy and Vietnam’s IT industry, especially in the context of Covid-19. Vietnam’s digital economy is forecast to rise to US$52 billion by 2025. I believe this is just the right time for Victorian businesses to invest or expand the market to Vietnam.
2. The innovation ecosystem would have changed significantly compared to when you founded Savvycom in 2009. What are some of the most unexpected or inspiring changes you’ve noticed in that time?
When we first founded Savvycom in 2009, I had a strong belief in the future of the IT industry in Vietnam. I may not see it in detail but viewing the macro of the IT industry from other countries such as the USA, UK, China or India, it was a big opportunity for Vietnam and IT businesses like Savvycom to leapfrog.
In the last 10 years, Vietnam has been going through positive changes in digital transformation, thus moving forward into a digital economy and a digital society. The wave of tech startups as well as startup projects from large companies, has been continuously on the rise. Many foreign giant tech companies such as Apple, Intel, Samsung also invested in Vietnam.
A trend called “Make In Vietnam” is on a strong momentum where the developers and technology experts have considered more about bringing Vietnamese products to the world. According to experts’ assessment, Vietnam will be an ideal destination for leading technology companies in the world and the region to have their product development located.
Besides, the good news is that IT businesses in Vietnam have been more connected, in addition with support from Government and associations to build the image of IT to the region.
In 2019, TechinAsia considers Vietnam as Southeast Asia’s next growth story and in 2020, Tholons ranked Vietnam as top 10 digital nations. At present, the IT industry is being evaluated as one of the leading industries in Vietnam. Vietnam has more than 58.000 Digital Technology companies and the Government aims to reach 100.000 by 2030. There are more than 400.000 IT engineers and over 50.000 annual graduated students, and this number increases every year.
Vietnamese Government is actively pushing IT industry support. Since 2020, the Government has planned to invest more in 20 schools currently teaching IT in Vietnam. From there, the government will cooperate with businesses to open more short-term training courses for young people so that they can approach real-life requirements and catch up with new technologies.
3. What is it that fascinates you or excites you about the future for the partnership between Australia-Vietnam?
As an entrepreneur, I see many opportunities for Victorian businesses to invest in Vietnam and vice versa. Australia has a positive image for quality, safety, and health. Vietnamese enjoy food from Australia as well as often send their kids to study in Australia. Alongside this, Australia’s 300,000-strong Vietnamese community is able to provide solid links and cultural knowledge to capitalize on emerging market opportunities.
I was also excited to see the presence of its newly-established Victorian Government trade office in Ho Chi Minh City, which empowered Victorian businesses to expand and diversify into a rapidly modernizing and digitizing Viet Nam.
This is a positive sign of the growing Vietnam – Australia relationship, facilitating strong business connections in tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship, through outreach and people-to-people engagement.
I believe this is just the right time for Australian businesses to invest or expand the market to Vietnam, and I am more than fascinated to be a bridge.
4. The OECD’s Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India released in February this year lists the use of e-commerce, digital health tools and on-line education all accelerated sharply during the pandemic in Emerging Asia. The report notes that, there is still a lot of work to be done, for the region to be able to get the full benefits of digitalisation. What do you consider to be the keys for this to happen?
It’s obvious to see infrastructure expansion and access to the Internet and digital devices. I would like to point out some like-minded perspectives that I believe could work for the region to be able to gain more advantages of digitalisation:
First, I see quite many digital-savvy leaders from startups or large businesses with creative ideas. These people play a huge role in migrating business from the digitalising phase to a higher concept which is digital transformation. They encourage employees to experiment with new ideas and implementing self-serve systems for making information more accessible across organizations.
Another crucial point that I would like to mention is government policies. We need more support and guidance from the Government to establish new and adjusting policies for allowing digitalisation to happen in vast areas
For example, since tele-medicine is partially allowed, some medical centers have already applied it in their services and provide consumers with convenient ways. However, they still do it in a safe way and wait for more guidance from the Government.
Similarly, for online learning, if Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training allows online testing for public schools, they could do it like many private schools to help students finish online during this lock-down time.
5. You’ve spoken about what can happen when young women are empowered to lead. What do we need to do to make the conditions right for women to take advantage of the new pathways created by Industry 4.0?
First, women themselves need to change their mindset, they should recognise their equal value, role in their family and community. They can contribute much better to society than just being a good housewife.
A person can be confident if they have knowledge and experience. In this Industry 4.0, the opportunity to learn and practice will be for many more people from different locations, from cities to rural areas.
I see many organizations already do many activities including early education, role model stories, to help young women build their confidence through learning and practice. From my view, I would like to talk more about the mentoring program.
- Mentoring program: Provide young women access to mentors. The mentors could be both men and women. I have been in several mentoring programs, being a mentee/mentor for nearly 15 years. I found this very powerful program. It’s a great way to create opportunities for young women to join this, inspire each other, learn from others and create many effective programs for communities.
- Having more programs to have women meet women, to share and to learn. Before, I felt very lonely, it seems I did not have a lot in common with many women around. However, through the mentoring program from Hanoi Women Entrepreneur Association, Cherie Blair mentoring foundation, Fortune US Department of State partnership, I could meet many wonderful women from different countries, they are really strong and powerful. We have been motivated and learned a lot from each other. I feel much more confident that I always have like-minded friends around and I believe many of us have the same thinking.
I have a strong belief in the younger generation. They have been surrounded with a good education, background and environment. I hope to have more and more women who are brave enough to change, to become future leaders along with men.