Utilsing the MBA network to pivot in a crisis

Utilsing the MBA network to pivot in a crisis

Despite taking her MBA fully online due to the pandemic, Nguyen Thuy Duong was still able to make use of her newfound network of industry professionals. In doing so, she helped her turn around her family’s fledgling export company into a local powerhouse.

Nguyen Thuy Duong thought she had it all planned it out. After taking her Bachelor of Business Management, with an exchange to RMIT Melbourne in 2017, she wanted to begin a corporate marketing job. She also wanted to one day get back to Australia to either study or to begin a career pathway there.

Despite being asked by her father to work for the family business, Duong instead went to work at Shinhan bank in their marketing department. Duong states that “it was a comfortable position and I worked there for 1 year, but I soon found myself looking to discover more about my potential and ability. I felt a bit lost. Dad still wanted me to work for Truong Duong JSC, but I decided that an MBA at RMIT was a better choice for me – especially as I wanted to go back to Melbourne.”

As the entire world was about to discover in 2019, the best laid plans of mice and men often take on unexpected twists, and for Duong the covid lockdowns forced her to take her entire MBA online.

Nguyen Thuy Duong, a postgraduate alumna at RMIT Vietnam

Despite the sudden shift in situation, Duong notes that she adapted well. “Those in my class, we were all going through similar experiences. Despite only being online, the connection we created was quite deep. What I truly appreciated was how my teammates helped me change my mindset – they showed me the many different angles to view a story. Some of them were entrepreneurs, some were corporate, some new graduates and some were involved in their family business.”

The networking and connections Duong created during her first few semesters ended up becoming a lifeline to her father’s business. The pandemic was having a drastic effect on the company, as their entire production was centered around exports.

Duong had the idea to begin making doctor’s coveralls as well as face masks instead of clothing, but her father was initially reluctant. The first issue was that he did not know if the products they made would be at the right quality to protect the wearer, and the second issue was that the company had never done sales within Vietnam.

Duong took on the responsibility to tackle these two issues herself.

“One teammate had a supplier for the material to make masks, so I was able to cooperate with him. He also provided a lot of advice on how to operate in the domestic market and the legal process that needed to be followed,” Duong states. “I saw that the processes to make coveralls and masks was more or less the same as what we were using to produce clothes, it was just that some of the machines needed to be changed.”

To implement the new strategy, however, was not easy. During Covid lockdown in HCMC, Duong stayed on the company premises for 3 months and had to work 14-16hrs a day. “I was up at 6am to do the wrapping, packing and accounting. Around 8pm I would begin my studies. 2 full days out of the week would be dedicated for classes,” Duong reminisces.

From Duong’s initial idea, came a large impact. Truong Duong JSC produced and shipped doctor’s clothes and masks to almost every hospital in HCMC. “What we were able to produce was of a very high quality,” Duong states. “We were shipping 2-3 thousand coveralls every day.”

Now the COO for her family brand, Duong can look back on a time where, despite a crisis occurring, she was able to step up and meet the challenge. She relates, “I feel as though that my father was my biggest inspiration during that difficult time. From him I learned that when you work hard and feel as though the job you are doing is necessary and important, you won’t feel tired.”


Related News