An interview with Paul Smith, Chief Executive Officer at NashTech, about the beginnings of NashTech in Vietnam…
When did the business start and what has been the business journey so far?
NashTech started operating in Vietnam in 2000.
We began outsourcing because a key client wanted to cancel our contracting relationship and transfer their staff to India. To ensure that we retained the business, we set out to find a solution.
Over dinner, we met a local Vietnamese who was passionate about Vietnam and the opportunity within the country so we investigated the possibilities, visited Hanoi and set up our operations that same year.
The interesting thing is the perception by the west of Vietnam, used to be one of helicopters rising over the jungle in the sunset. That was nearly 20 years ago and could not be further from the truth. Vietnam is a fast maturing economy with a population of over 96 million, a solid education system that is supported by the most stable government in Asia. It is a single party system but is very entrepreneurial and is predicted to be a top 20 economy by 2050 according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
People perceive that the only reason we are in Vietnam is that it is a low cost economy. Whilst that is true, Vietnam is strong in innovation.
Key to our philosophy is not to be a company just providing inexpensive code, we work with clients to help them transform their businesses, to innovate and to invent in order to create a competitive edge.
Vietnam is a great country to do business in:
- 83% of graduates study a science subject
- Vietnam has been in the top 3 at the mathematics Olympics for a decade
- average age of the population is 35
- the economy is growing at a rate of 7% per annum
- the technology sector is key to government strategy
- it is the 13th most populous country in the world
The people are very friendly, productive, straightforward. They are prepared to say no and the government is very conducive to doing business, particularly with the technology sector.
NashTech has been in Vietnam for nearly 20 years and is one of the two biggest tech companies in the country. Was this the plan or expectation when you opened the offices there?
NashTech is the largest foreign business and second largest tech business in Vietnam. We did not start out planning to be the biggest and we do not grow for the sake of growing. We are pleased to have a large number of staff and to have grown so significantly.
Our philosophy is to grow based on being the best. Our objective is to serve our clients’ needs and, in doing so, deliver profitability to our shareholders. Becoming number two is a great side benefit of that.
As Deputy Chair of the UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC) and Vietnam-UK Network (VN-UK Network) you have maintained strong relationships with government. Why do you think these ties continue to be important?
Being involved in the UK-ABC and Vietnam-UK Network enables us to engage with government to solve challenges. An example of that is when we won a major deal in 2007 working on new 4G mobile technology called LTE technology. We needed to open a centre in Vietnam with a large development lab and a lot of expensive hardware to test mobile communications locally. To do that on our own it would take two years to get the licences, to import the hardware and to run a live network in Ho Chi Minh City.
Our relationships through the Vietnamese Government, the UKABC and VN-UK Network enabled us to meet Government officials to explain the benefits of the project which included the number of jobs that would be created if we are able to resolve our challenges. Following discussions we rapidly gained licenses which reduced a two year process to just three months.
We also believe as a company in putting back into the economy that has been good to us. I put a lot of time into supporting the Vietnamese Government through the UKABC and the VN-UK Network. Corporate social responsibility is important to us and we are committed to a number of charities, with a particular focus on helping underprivileged children to receive an education.
One of the things we do is deliver bikes to children so they can go to school, we also deliver rice to family in rural regions. Often children have to go to work to earn money which buys rice to feed the family. If we give the families rice, the children can go to school and gain an education which will further strengthen the economy.
What are your ‘top tips’ to businesses looking to export or establish themselves in Vietnam?
Vietnam is going to become one of the biggest markets in the world, early entry is important. You have to build relationships with people.
People think they can go there on a visit and expect to do the rest by email; this approach will not work. It is all about building trust and being willing to talk face-to-face. Once you do that you can start to do business.
Our interview with Paul Smith gives interesting insight into how NashTech started doing business in Vietnam. Fast forward to today and NashTech has grown into the largest foreign company in Vietnam.
This interview launches a series of blogs that cover all aspects of our business including our key service lines, Advisory and Consulting Services, Software Services, Business Process Outsourcing and Infrastructure Services and will deep dive into some of the latest technologies and trends to watch in 2017.
Follow the blog series on our website http://bit.ly/2rqTV1w.