Benjamin Le: The Culture Shock, the Stepping-Up and the Finance Guru Who Loves to Talk
At first glance, Ben looks like a man of few words who prefers to keep himself to a desirably peaceful lifestyle. However, the team leader has paved his path with twists of life-changing stories, whose latest chapter at ASW Global we might metaphorically entitle “The culture shock, the stepping-up and the finance guru who loves to talk”.
Good morning Ben, thanks for joining and sharing your stories with us!
Yeah bear with me and all the plot twists I’m going to tell you 😀
Wow can’t wait! Is it true that you had been living and working in Australia for some time before coming back to Vietnam?
8 years, to be exact. I came to Australia in 2007 to pursue the Bachelor degree in Finance and then the Master degree in Business. It was quite a coincidence because at first, I planned to study Mechanical Engineering and Robotics but the university didn’t have the course available at that time. After consulting my family, I went for Finance thinking that it would be beneficial later on for my family’s business. After graduating, I worked as an assistant for a financial advisor in Melbourne til 2015.
Did studying abroad in Australia help shape you to be the person that you are now?
Definitely. I moved to Australia as an 18-year-old guy who lived an easy, wealthy life and had zero experience in fending for myself. To break out of the comfort zone and receive no financial support from my family, I had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, either in the train station, out on the farm or in restaurants. I started to learn the value of hard work and hard-earned money.
More importantly, studying in Australia laid the foundation for my career path in Finance and Business Administration, which I have tirelessly built in the past 6 years.
So what brought you back to Vietnam after all those years?
Hmm I would say it was another life-changing incident, to be honest. My boss actually offered me a sponsorship for a PR visa to stay in Australia and help him grow the business. I literally thought that all my hard work had paid off and I would grasp this opportunity.
Suddenly, tonnes of unexpected events occurred to the boss and the business somehow took a downturn. In the end, he had to file for bankruptcy. Left without the sponsorship and the employment, I was informed to wrap things up and leave Australia within 28 days. It was extremely shocking.
It is, indeed. Did you find it difficult to blend in and build from scratch in Vietnam?
Okay this may sound ridiculous for a Vietnamese national like me, but I actually suffered from…culture shock upon getting back to Vietnam. In an attempt to calm myself down and settle in, I applied for a local company. A disastrous move, I must admit. I couldn’t befriend with my colleagues. I couldn’t blend in with the organisational culture and how they work. The tension was so enormous that I resigned after 6 months.
Fortunately, I got contacted by ASW Global. The HR department found my CV on a job portal and it matched a financial assistant position for an Australian client. I was surprised because the financial advisory industry was yet to be popular in Vietnam at that time, let alone working for an Australian client.
How did you feel when you first joined ASW Global?
ASW Global was where I got my feet back on the ground. I found the working environment here was 80% similar to what I experienced in Melbourne and I got the ball rolling in no time.
We still remember your first days at ASW Global as a member in the 2-staff team. Now you are a leader of a team of 10. How was the experience?
Those were the days when I stood between two options: finding a way back to Australia empty-handedly or stepping up and building a proper career here. I chose the latter and I would definitely do it again. I proposed to the Management Board in Australia, offering how I could contribute more using my gained experience in Melbourne. After one year, we got 2 more staff. After 2 years, the team grew to 6 staff and now we have 10 staff based in Vietnam, Malaysia. We help the local team in Australia to service up to 40 (and counting) clients across the country, specialising in Pre-SOA, SOA development, advice implementation and on-going services.
Congratulations on the achievements! How would you portrait yourself as a team leader?
As a team leader, my priority is to ensure smooth collaboration between the local team in Australia and the distributed teams. That requires me to be engaging, motivational while staying logical and organisational at the same time. I never depict myself with authority and supervision, but a friend to the team members whom they can always talk to, raise issues and discuss in earnest. It turns out that my years working as a team member actually help me in becoming a better team leader.
Thankfully, we have proper communication with the Australian team to keep the workflow precise, healthy and efficient. We have Skype for Business and phone lines for quick, daily discussion. We also hold weekly and monthly meetings via Video Conference for everyone to catch up and update workload. I think such connections help maintain great team spirit.
Thanks Ben for such interesting sharing. We wish your team all the best and grow even stronger under your guidance.