“A problem-solver who seeks to make the world a better place.”
Hometown: Vung Tau City, Vietnam
Fun Fact About Yourself: I love coffee. I often make my own coffee using the Vietnamese coffee filter set.
Undergraduate School and Major: NUS Business School, National University of Singapore. BBA (Honours), major in Finance
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: OCBC Bank, Assistant Vice President
What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? My classmates can be described in three words: kindness, persuasiveness, and discipline. My classmates are always willing to help each other and collaborate in teamwork. Although competition is part of the program, you hardly find any unhealthy level of competition. Ivey MBA students are often great communicators, partially because of the case method, partly due to the selection process of the school. Discipline is another common characteristic that I observe in my class. The vast majority of my fellow students are hard-working and have good time management skills. Although the program is incredibly intensive and hectic, my classmates still manage to not only perform well in academics but also involve in various extracurricular activities, such as clubs, and social events.
How has the case method enriched your learning? In my opinion, the case method is very different from the lecture-based approach. I need to put myself into the shoes of decision-makers in every class, try to understand the complex problem in the business case, quickly formulate a logical and sensible solution, and communicate that solution to my stakeholders in a concise way. In other words, I practice to be an effective manager every day by going through exactly what they are expected to perform on the daily basis.
Aside from classmates and cases, what part of the school’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? After working for about seven years in the banking industry in Singapore, I decided it was time to pursue my MBA, pushing myself to the next level. My mentor encouraged me to go for an MBA program in North America to really challenge myself. After researching potential programs in North America, I chose Ivey Business School because it was a one-year intensive program. The school also offers a strong network of alumni. Another reason why I chose Ivey, a Canadian school, was that I liked the open culture of Canada and the opportunities that Canada offered to international students. Unlike many other countries, Canada remains a beacon of hope for a caring multicultural society.
You moved online quickly after arriving on campus due to COVID-19. What has the transition been? How has an online platform impacted your relationships with your peers? There were issues here and there, especially regarding connection issues during the first few weeks. Nevertheless, the transition was generally smooth. Though the curriculum was the same, the understanding that learning through Zoom will not be exactly the same as the physical classroom is important. This understanding helps me to take full advantage of the new reality of the learning landscape. There were areas that we got certain advantages as we had classes through Zoom, such as Analytics classes. Students were able to share our models easier and quicker in class, and professors were able to cover more topics.
Among our classmates, Ivey MBA Class of 2021 was called an Ivey MBA Class of COVID-19. This shows you how COVID-19 affects us. Yet, we are resilient, or extremely resilient as most people concluded after interacting with our class. For more than four months and probably a few more months, classes have been conducting through Zoom. Despite all challenges that we faced, Ivey MBA Class of 2021 figured out the way to bond and helped each other in our learning process.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far. The most impactful accomplishment in my career so far was the launch of Group Wealth Platform (GWP) in Bank of Singapore (a wholly-owned subsidiary of OCBC Bank) in early 2020. Bank of Singapore had achieved phenomenal growth, from USD $25 billion to more than $100 billion assets under management (AUM) in less than a decade. However, the operating models and systems in the bank reached their limits, thus increasing cost to serve notably along with the rise of AUM. With my leadership and coordination from the Program Management Office, the bank invested in GWP program to address these limitations and build new capabilities.
Group Wealth Platform program successfully upgraded the wealth core system, risk management engine, and digital front ends for relationship managers and clients, which enabled the bank to improve value proposition, significantly reduce the cost to serve per client and set the foundation for the acquisition of next hundreds of billions (USD) of AUM. In short, GWP program created a competitive advantage for OCBC Group in the private banking space.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I started my career with OCBC Bank in Singapore after graduating from the National University of Singapore. I joined the bank through the Graduate Executive Program (now known as Management Associate Program) of the Global Consumer Financial Services division. After rotations, I was posted in Business Transformation, a department which aims to transform the way the bank works. I had many opportunities to work on various impactful projects, including redesigning the customer relationship management system, revolutionising financial needs analysis, and establishing the next generation of wealth platform for private banking. My last position was Assistant Vice President, running the Group Wealth Platform – Program Management Office of both Bank of Singapore and OCBC Bank.
After working for about seven years in the banking industry in Singapore, achieving a number of successes in my career, I recognised that my learning curve would not be as great as it used to be if I continued. I felt this was the time for me to explore, challenge myself, and pivot into a new area. After thinking about options, I chose to pursue an intensive MBA program in a new continent, accelerating my learning again.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I wish I could apply to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry if they offer an MBA program (I am kidding). Other MBA programs that I applied should not matter here. You only need to know that I chose an Ivey MBA over other programs after careful consideration.
What did you do during the application process that enabled you to get accepted into Ivey? I did not do anything particularly different. I researched about Ivey and its MBA program, how the Ivey MBA program is different from other MBA programs. I prepared for the admissions interview as much I could. In Ivey, an admissions interview was conducted by Career Management.
What is the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started at Ivey? I learned that my greatest strength was not about being the smartest guy in the room but bringing people together to solve a problem. Building bridges, trust, and hope is my next level as a problem solver. A united team of problem solvers will definitely stronger and better than a lone problem solver.
DON’T MISS: MEET IVEY’S MBA CLASS OF 2021