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  Foreign Investment

Outsourcing – Vietnam’s great potential

WVB's CEO Philipe O. Piette at the recent launch of the company's Hanoi office

According to World’Vest Base CEO Philipe O. Piette's vision, Vietnam has all the potential strengths and assets to become Asia’s main outsourcing market.

At the recent launch of the Hanoi office, Philipe Piette, CEO of World'Vest Base (WVB), a leading US financial information provider, related the reason that made him decide to establish a WVB office in Hanoi.

In contrast with the formal style that you might expect from a CEO of a well-known US company at a launch, Mr Piette welcomed me to his Hanoi office in a relaxed and informal manner. He was even happy to sit on the back of my eleven-year-old Honda to go for lunch.

The unassuming appearance of Mr Piette is not only restricted to vehicles, as he’s happy to sit on a Hanoi street pavement and drink "ice tea", use chopsticks or eat at a ‘pho’ stall. In fact it was at just such a stall that he decided to set up a regional office in Hanoi.

"All the tables in a ‘pho’ stall were full when a Vietnamese woman, Hue, asked to sit at my table in excellent English. After a brief chat, when she realised that I was a French speaker, she changed to speaking fluent French. Three days later, I decided to open a representative office in Hanoi".

Ms Hue is now working as an office manager at Mr Piette’s office, as living proof of the virtue of direct marketing.

Vietnam - the right choice

Established in 1984, WVB has emerged as a leading global financial information provider specialising in producing non-US company financial databases since 1985.

WorldVest has created one of the most extensive multi-country database and company information over 75 countries including Asia. It specialises in synergies, offering its customers extensive sources for their financial information solutions.

The company’s headquarters is in Chicago (U.S.), and it has branch offices in Malaysia, Mexico and Egypt. On October 13, it formally unveiled its representative office in Hanoi, Vietnam.

It might sound as if Mr Piette’s decision was hasty, but he is convinced that it was the right one.

Last year he went on a tour of South East Asia in order to seek out new data sources from French speaking countries.

Although some friends advised him to set up an office in Laos, he was disappointed with the language skills of the work force.

At first he was similarly disappointed with Vietnam, but his views quickly changed after his conversation with Ms Hue at the Hanoi ‘pho’ stall.

And he is sure that he has made the right decision. "After five months in operation, I believed that Vietnam is the right decision by me".

Having only started operations in Vietnam in May 2004, WVB Hanoi office now has 48 workers, a work force almost equal to the Malaysian office in Kuala Lumpur, which is the main WVB’s branch in Asia. Most of the staff are young university graduates.

They scan the Internet for everything by English and French, from emerging market stock prices to corporate filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Vietnamese women and outsourcing?

Asked to compare the capabilities of the Vietnamese and Malaysian staff, Mr Piette comments "I haven’t been here long enough to know comprehensively about Vietnamese staff, but there're very smart people here. Both Vietnamese and Malaysian staff have their own strong points".

"I'm specially impressed with Vietnamese women - in my office, it’s 80% women. I think Vietnamese women are hard workers, motivated and want to succeed much more than the men. I have known Vietnamese women in Dien Bien Phu, they carry great loads on their back and cycle to the battlefield. Women in Vietnam have gained confidence.”

He went on to add “With the human resource available at this moment, I am convinced that the emergence of Vietnam will eventually come. I told my staff that “the only thing I can do for you is give you opportunities, give you the tools to grow. You may be lucky in some way, but only you will build this office, and make it a success.' And I think they believe it".

The future of outsourcing

To increase the strengths of human resources to develop outsourcing in Vietnam, Mr Piette highlighted languages skills, and not only English.

“Your country has many linguistic assets in the North, that haven't been exploited. It's variety of languages - English, French, German, Russian and Chinese," he noted. "In the outsourcing industry, wage level isn't always the most important factor and your country's assets in languages is another important factor to make creative productions".

He went to suggest that Vietnam should expand into new areas of outsourcing. “For example, Vietnam at the moment can only do non-voice outsourcing, and therefore can learn more about voice outsourcing from Malaysia. They are strong at telephone outsourcing, with excellent English", he said.

In addition, the WVB’s CEO thinks that human sources conversation skills are very important. Recently, he interviewed a 23-year-old man. “When I asked 'Can you speak English?' he only answered 'Yes!'. He failed the interview", told Mr Piette.

In answering the question 'What's the potential of Vietnam outsourcing?’ he affirmed: "Youth, youth and youth. With youth, your country's assets and strengths can be combined together to speed up development, and determine the future of Vietnam outsourcing".

Vietnamnet - (08/11/2004)

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