Posted by: tonkatsudelights | April 3, 2007

Saigon, March 2007

My 2nd business trip to Saigon. As usual, I don’t have much time to spare during my business trips. A lot of them were just touch-and-go. Stay for one or two nights, then fly out the next day. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t notice anything. I am a person of words and imaginations. When I see things, words start flying inside my head. Recently, I just promised myself that I will make sure I don’t lose them anymore.

Saigon is a city with unique and distinctive characteristics. It still has a lot of old historical buildings and very few high rise. To me, a city is more beautiful that way. As long as they can maintain the old buildings in good condition. A city that is too modern sometimes feels as if it has no soul. Nevertheless, I do not fall in love with Saigon the way I did with Beijing and Hangzhou. The moment I stepped in and breathed the air of Beijing and Hangzhou, I had that warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Yes, I am a romantic that way. I fall in love with everything. With words, names, places, and cities. And all other things that touch my heart.

Saigon to me, is a city of bikes —lots and lots of bikes— and the cute short-legged chairs and stools. Shorter than usual, I sometimes wonder if people will get cramps when they sit down for long. Hehe. Hardly any highways, the streets are small and lots of them do not even have traffic lights. On any given day you’ll find people hanging out lazily at the streetside stalls and cafes. A stark contrast with the bustling city of Singapore,… but I enjoy them both!

The streetside stalls in Saigon    Lazy thursday afternoon    The cute short-legged stools

I went to Saigon to meet my team. A team of supposedly 6 people, but now we are understaffed and I am expecting to fill the gap within the next month or so. Good talents are in high demand in Vietnam these days. With their inclusion to WTO, expect more MNC’s coming in. The competition for the local talent pool is surely getting hot. And there’ll be poaching of people from one company to another, for a much higher salary. I just wish the people there can think long term and see the opportunity that our company provides in the long term. If it meets their needs, why don’t they sacrifice a bit in the short run?

That’s what I did when the company was about to shut down one of the operation in my home country. They offered packages for people who would like to resign from the company. For me, it was almost as good as two years’ worth of my salary. And I knew I would surely be able to find another job in less than 6 months’ time. Financially, it made sense to take the package. But I knew my dreams and desire. I knew if I wanted to go out of the country, I’d better stick with the company. And rightly so. For in the following year, they relocated me to Singapore.

High starting salary is also tricky. Sometimes, after the company offered high starting salary just to get employees from our company, the salary may not move for a couple of years. No progression. Sometimes people are not able to see beyond what is dangling in front of them…

And my team? Lovely people, btw. I am glad I had the chance to spend time with them outside of business hours, otherwise I wouldn’t know how fun they can be. Cracking jokes and laughing throughout our group dinner, you wouldn’t know that these are stressful times for them. In fact, the reason why I was there, partly, was to encourage them and to keep their spirits high. And I hope I have inspired them enough to hang on in there for now and keep trying their best to grow in the company. I believe in nurturing personal growth. I believe that if the individuals can grow, the performance and the results will come subsequently. That is one of my management philosophy.

Saigon Do!  Saigon Do, Vietnam local beer. Try local beer wherever you go!

The lovely Ms. Hieu and Ms. Lien    Quang and Nhan —> My lovely team!

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