“A country boy dares to take one step further and get ready for new experiences.”
Hometown: Dat Do, Ba Ria Vung Tau, Vietnam
Fun Fact About Yourself: My full name is six-word long and considered unusual in Vietnam. A typical Vietnamese name has only three.
Undergraduate School and Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, S. Korea
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Baker Hughes, Wireline Field Engineer
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While I was a field engineer at Baker Hughes, I wanted to do something differently from the oil & gas. I co-founded Letto, a coffee and tea shop, with my wife in 2015. We target young urbanites with a passion for coffee and tea, networking, and sharing ideas. We hoped to bring such a coffee culture to Vung Tau community. Besides scouting and sourcing raw ingredients from local farmers, I manage digital marketing activities to drive 5k+ followers with highest review score in Vung Tau, helping Letto be named one of top 5 Must Visit Coffee Shops in town by one of Vietnam’s top restaurant review media/food dining app. Compared to other Vietnam’s coffee chains, Letto and its success are very modest indeed, but it gave me my first taste of entrepreneurship and a chance to build a business from the ground.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I haven’t met any of my MBA classmates yet.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The opportunities to learn about entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan are second-to-none. A very structured Entrepreneur & Innovation Track allows me to experience the unique entrepreneurial ecosystem at MIT. I can greatly benefit from various resources from Martin Trust Center such as startup mentoring and coaching from Entrepreneurs in Residence or simply being surrounded by a cohort of like-minded peers.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? MIT Sloan is an ideal place for me to foster a community of cultural exchange. I wish to bring together people curious about Southeast Asian culture not only at MIT Sloan but also schools across Boston. Whether it’s through coordinating a Tết, Vietnamese New Year, inspired C-function, or an interschool game of Cờ-Người, human chess, I look forward to introducing my peers to Vietnam’s vibrant and colorful culture, and inspiring fellow Sloanies to celebrate their cultures with our community as well.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? On my future journey of becoming a social entrepreneur, I feel that I’ve been exposed to and experienced all that I could in the oil and gas industry. Also, co-founding a coffee shop and working with local farmers sparked my current ambition, which is to launch an e-commerce platform connecting Vietnamese farmers with worldwide consumers. So an MBA right now will help me gain exposure to the industries that I’m passionate about and further refine my business goals while I continue to develop my leadership skills. And at the age of 30, I think it doesn’t make sense for me to wait.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Coming to business school, I expect a career switch and an education on entrepreneurship to help me become the person I aspire to be. Being an oilfield engineer is an incredible experience, but for the next chapter of my career, MBA advances naturally. Even though it comes with a high price tag, in the long run I believe it will pay off.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? McCombs, Fuqua, Kellogg, Yale SOM, Stanford
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I tried to quantify the process as much as possible. My top priorities are rigorous program, entrepreneurship focus, learning style, school’s reputation, my chance of admission/scholarship, alumni network, clubs, and my job prospects. I gave each component a 10 and a weighting factor.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? The first time that I went to a big city. I grew up in a rural, agricultural community in Southern Vietnam. When I was 12, my aunt took me to Ho Chi Minh city for the first time. I never travelled that far, and I enjoyed the trip so much because there were so many things I had never seen in my life: bookstores, theme parks, universities, etc. I started thinking that there’s a world out there waiting for me to explore – I just need to take a step further.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to work on grocery and gourmet foods category within e-commerce space, ideally on a multiple year program in which I can rotate through different choices of areas such as vendor management, marketing management, product management, and in-stock management.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Still on grocery and gourmet foods category, I’ll look for opportunities to enhance my understanding of logistics for regional food hubs, which involves the management of a distribution network that helps to transport products across longer distances or pick up products from a geographically dispersed group of suppliers. And yes, start working on my future venture.