Emerging Markets: Vietnam

Emerging Markets: Vietnam

In this week’s ‘Emerging Markets’ article we discover Vietnam, and what benefits this incredibly beautiful country has to offer to one’s professional life.

Vietnam: Well worth your while

Tucked between the Gulf of Thailand and the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam’s geographical peculiarity offers the most singular landscapes in the world. Combined with a low cost of living, the country’s steady improvements in infrastructure have made it an increasingly attractive destination for expatriates.

Early in 2012, Vietnam introduced an extensive reform program focusing on public investment, the banking sector, and state-owned enterprises. These affirmative measures have spurred economic growth, and turned Vietnam into an attractive destination for foreign investment, in turn leading to even more employment opportunities. The current short-term economic climate presents good investment opportunities and the real estate market is improving alongside the country’s GDP growth.

Besides the capital city of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City is the second leading city for expatriate opportunities. Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Hai Duong and Ba Ria Vung Tau also attract foreign direct investment, which promises innumerable career-building opportunities.

Ripe for growth

Vietnam is a young and growing economy, and its shortage of local professional talent in specialized technical and creative sectors has spurred organizations to seek overseas professionals for leadership roles.

Rated among the top in the Expat Experience league tables, Vietnam also ranks high in the Disposable Income criteria. 53% of expats agree that living and working conditions in Vietnam have improved; at the same time, employers have made the deal sweeter by offering attractive relocation packages. Given the low overall cost of living and higher earning potential, Vietnam stands alongside the best Southeast Asian countries as the ‘most cost-effective place for expats’.

On the basis of career potential alone, Vietnam is the right place to head to. But yes, moving to this country isn’t just about landing that dream job and packing your bags. While you can easily conduct your professional life in English; on the street, the language barrier is very much in place. A crash course in the local language is called for. If not, an open mind and the ability to grin through some confusing/ amusing situations will take you places.

Career avenues

Although agriculture, forestry and fishery constitute the biggest sectors in Vietnam’s economy, they are giving way to industrial and services sectors. Western and Chinese multinational companies are relocating their production units to Vietnam to gain an edge through lower manufacturing costs.

While big corporations such as Coca-Cola, Nike and PricewaterhouseCoopers prefer to transfer existing top talent to Vietnam to kick-start their businesses there, there are still a lot of other vacancies for foreign managers and experts in leather shoes, garments, and printing industry. Mining, manufacturing, water generation and power are the other growing sectors which require specialist labor from expatriates.

The most promising sectors for expats seeking job opportunities are:

  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Construction
  • Tourism
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Garment industry
  • Power

Demand for senior professionals on the rise

The Vietnam Development Report 2014 found that the skills gap is particularly acute in technical, professional and managerial positions. Expats are in demand for business development and sales positions, especially in furniture and some service industries where the clientele is mainly other expatriates.

In 2014, there is healthy demand for specialists in consumer goods, pharmacy, consumer lending, retailing and chemicals production sectors. According to VietnamWorks, the demand for mid-level personnel would be the highest, about 74% of the total demand, while the demand for high-ranking staff (managers, directors, CEOs) would be some 21%.

An in-depth survey showed that, in 2013, the production sector needed most high-ranking workers (19.6%), followed by the tourism, restaurant and hotel (8.9%) segment. The demand will inflate further in 2014 with most professionals needed in

  • Marketing and sales
  • High technology
  • Electronics
  • Service
  • Restaurant & hotel

Strong investment waves from Japan and South Korea will further lead to higher demand for Information Technology and polytechnic specialists.

Accounting & Finance: Roles in focus

Rapid growth of businesses has increased opportunities for compliance, internal audit and control professionals. Accounting candidates with ACCA or CPA qualifications are sought-after, to further strengthen finance teams. Companies seek management accounting and business analysts with strong commercial acumen, analytical skills and business partnering competencies.

Role Annual salary in USD
Chief Financial Officer $86 – 122K
Finance Director – Large Organisation $57 – 88K
Finance Director – Small/ Medium Organisation $42 – 58K
Financial Planning & Analysis (6+ years’ exp) $31 – 38K
Finance Manager (4 – 6 years’ exp) $35 – 50K

Human Resources: Roles in focus

Compensation and benefits specialists are in demand as organizations concentrate on retaining key talent and strengthening their HR workforce. There is growth in hiring by multinational firms, especially those in the manufacturing, FMCG, and food and beverage sectors. Professionals skilled in HR strategies, transformation, learning & development, retention, compensation & benefits, and recruitment are highly sought-after.

Role Annual Salary in USD
HR Director $66 – 106K+
HR Manager $28 – 53K+
HR Business Partner $22 – 38K
Compensation & Benefits Manager $20 – 23K
Learning & Development Manager $19 – 26K
Recruitment Manager $17 – 20K
Personal Assistant $6 – 13K

Information Technology (IT): Roles in focus

The global economic downturn led to multinationals turning to Vietnam for IT solutions at a lower cost. There are pockets of hiring within software outsourcing companies for technical talent – software architects, solution architects, senior software developers and .NET and Java programmers.

Simultaneously, there is growing demand for professionals skilled in web and mobile applications. This was a result of Vietnam’s move into the mobile market, the advancement of Smartphone applications, and the rise of online consumerism for businesses.

Role Annual Salary in USD
Senior Project Manager (7+ years’ exp) $26 – 37K
IT Manager (5+ years’ exp) $23 – 36K
IT Security Manager (5+ years’ exp) $22 – 37K
C#/ ASP .NET Engineer (5+ years’ exp) $17 – 23K
ERP Technical Consultant (5+ years’ exp) $14 – 22K
Senior Database Engineer $11 – 18K
Java Engineer (4+ years’ exp) $10 – 16K
ERP Functional Consultant (5+ years’ exp) $10 – 18K

Sales & Marketing: Roles in focus

The FMCG and pharmaceutical markets remain cautious on hiring sales and marketing professionals. However, multinational firms seek senior-level professionals skilled in crisis management, system improvement, and sales and marketing as they restructure their business.

Role Annual Salary in USD
Sales & Marketing Director (8+ years’ exp) $50 – 65K
Public Relations Director (8+ years’ exp) $50 – 65K
Business Development Manager (8+ years’ exp) $45 – 60K
Brand Manager (4+ years’ exp) $25 – 32K
Marketing Communications Manager (6+ years’ exp) $30 – 45K
Marketing Manager (4 – 5 years’ exp) $30 – 44K
Trade  Marketing Manager (4 – 5 years’ exp) $28 – 32K
Call Centre Manager (8+ years’ exp) $15 – 25K
Marketing Communications Manager (4 – 5 years’ exp) $28 – 32K

Supply Chain, Logistics & Engineering: Roles in focus

Employers seek quality employees with strong backgrounds and skill sets in this vertical. Engineering candidates are required to have experience in operation, production and quality control.

Role Annual Salary in USD
Supply Chain Manager $36 – 57K
Purchasing Manager $36 – 50K
QA/QC Manager $35 – 51K
Quality Inspector $15 – 22K
Operations Manager $42 – 56K
Warehouse Manager $29 – 43K
Logistics Manager $29 – 43K

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About the author

Jamie McDermott

Involved in Business Development and Technologies at Career Intelligence. Based in the Fleet Street, London office since the start of 2014.

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