The COVID-19 pandemic with its devastating impact has exposed many issues across the world from deep inequality and social injustice, to lack of health infrastructure. Vietnam, whilst sharing a border with China, has managed to have zero deaths and less than 500 infections.
In this article series, we speak to our alumni who are exceptional young leaders in the areas of business, education, health and social enterprise. They will share their brief insights not just about Vietnam’s COVID response but the opportunities and challenges that emerge for this remarkable country.
Collaborating with us on this first article is Phillip Nguyen - our 2017 Alumni and also the Vice President at IPP Group Vietnam. We will focus on the critical factors that have allowed Vietnam to be successful in the response to COVID-19.
How has Coronavirus affected your life?
Through this crisis, I believe people have learned several things about themselves and what is crucial in life. Personally, It has taught me to be more patient being with someone in the house 24/7, showed me what it means to love someone and made me stronger. I actually see more opportunities than challenges.
What have you done to contribute to Vietnam's COVID-19 response?
I was involved in supporting and balancing the emotions of my staff to ensure they were both physically and emotionally well. And when Vietnam was not at a high risk anymore, we, IPP group, were able to use our standing to support other countries. We knew that Vietnam was capable of producing all kinds of PPE (Personal Protection Equipments). Therefore, we donated 750,000 face masks and 16,000 full-body suits to the Philippines. That whole process took me a week to manually put every sticker on all of the boxes and it was such a heartfelt journey. In 1984, my father chartered the first flight from the Philippines to Vietnam with charitable goods from America. And now for Vietnam to send back the favour to the Philippines was a huge thing for us, especially my father. He was proud of that contribution.
What is your advice to young leaders, and leaders in respective countries regarding this COVID-19 crisis?
Coming out of this pandemic, my priority right now is to concentrate on how I can support Vietnam and the world, get back to the “new normal”. As a businessman, my role now moving forward is to contribute to job creation. We have to move as fast as we can. In this 'New Normal', even normal things should be renewed. And we should question ourselves, what do we need to come out of this together?
To me, we need to inspire, motivate ourselves, create, and find opportunities to be able to bring unity domestically first, then internationally. Take care of your family. Take care of your country. We want to do so much, but at the given time, with travel restrictions and no face to face meetings, everything will rely on past relationships. New relationships will take time to blossom. We now have to place all of our efforts unitedly and should not compete. If we are going to compete domestically, we are going to lose. If we support each other domestically, we will win.
Vietnam, though has had an exceptional response to this pandemic, the impacts on various aspects are still evident. As we are slowly recovering our lives out of this pandemic, many challenges and opportunities await.
What are you most proud of, being in Vietnam during a difficult time?
We have come this far together and this pandemic has shaped us to be even stronger as a whole. I'm so proud of our people and can't wait to see all of our flags flying once more in due time.
Learn more about Phillip here.