Interviewer: Mai Xuan Tra
Guest: Assoc. Prof. Do Hong Nhung (Ph.D.)
- Given the topic of this interview is Women @Finance, could you please introduce yourself and your background related to Finance?
Not much to introduce about myself. I am a lecturer in finance, particularly, Associate Professor at NEU, with financial knowledge and practical working experience in this field for nearly 20 years. Some positions I have been through can be listed as the International Service Division of Deloitte Vietnam, the Modernization Department of Seabank, and the Administrative Council Control Department of BIDV.
Hope to be able to share with you about finance from my own perspective.
2. When did you first start your Finance “journey”? You involved in Finance courses, programs, and projects right at high school, university, or higher education or you only started to work in Finance when you had experience in the industry or working settings?
Unlike many other students in the same high school specializing in Mathematics and Information Technology, at the University of Science and Technology, I have always felt a great passion towards economics and finance. Therefore, I decided to become a student in Banking and Finance at National Economics University. Perhaps, the journey with Corporate Finance begins there.
When I was a student, Vietnam's economic conditions were not as developed as they are now. Jobs involving financial projects were quite limited, usually including part-time jobs or supporting records in the accounting department. However, present generations have better conditions, and the market is also more welcoming.
My work in finance only started when I graduated and became an auditor, in charge of the finance of many business and financial projects. At the same time, with the desire to transmit the accumulated knowledge and experience, I decided to become a lecturer in corporate finance at National Economics University. Not dry as people normally view it, this is an engaging job allowing me to keep on my finance study, doing research papers, and imparting that knowledge to young people who are interested in finance.
3. During your journey of pursuing Finance, have you ever faced any obstacles (regardless of gender) and any specific difficulties for a woman? And yes, how did you overcome this hardship to commit to financing, or is there any support from the Finance community?
In general, barriers for women today have been lifted a lot. Still, the financial sector always holds a trade-off challenge between risks and benefits, especially for women. Perhaps, in part, it comes from the nature of women with less willing to take risks. Of course, not for all, but it is one of the dominant factors.
Making a financial decision requires taking risks, some areas with even high risk such as investing in the stock market, especially in emerging countries such as Vietnam. There are also invisible pressures coming from the cash flow, especially the short-term cash flow. There are difficult times, but after being through the financial sector, people can become more mature, calmer, and better tolerant towards risk.
Pursuing this field requires support and trust from family and friends. In Vietnam, there is a network of financiers partially supporting each other, however, not that strong. This happens even in developed countries, not only in Vietnam.
4. In contrast, do you recognize any advantages of women working in Finance?
While there are certain limitations against women's participation in the financial sector, there are also many advantages coming from women’s forte in this industry. Flexibility and prudence serve as advantages in helping women assess, and identify risks and have more cautious options. However, this does not apply to all women involved in this industry as some women are tough and decisive. My colleagues pursuing this field still maintain a good work-life balance, even with stressful workloads and requirements. It does not mean no pressure in other jobs, just different ones. If girls love and are determined to follow their passion, they would go all the way along the road, where the sweet fruits will be waiting.
5. Consider all the difficulties and the joy of doing Finance, what are you most proud of? If you had another choice, would you still select a Finance career?
As I shared previously, unlike many of my classmates continuing with Math - Information or engineering, I chose finance. Never have I thought of another field if there was a “rechoice” option. Maybe it's my personality, my passion, what I want to do and want to pursue. My biggest pride does not come from finance but from my students studying finance. Many graduated students have confided in me that: “What I remember most is when you said, in finance, you can study anything, from anyone, as long as you study. It will be good for the future.”
6. Currently, are you doing any Finance projects or participating in organizations promoting Finance knowledge, specifically in Vietnam? Are those projects or organizations supporting women in doing so? In the future, will you further pursue your journey in Finance? Please give some brief information about your upcoming Finance projects.
Having more experience, I feel the urge to go for projects on environmental finance, and finance for sustainable development. I have participated in many projects, both domestic and international, on CO2 emission reduction, green investment for renewable energy development, green finance in the banking sector, and ESG projects of enterprises. I have noticed one thing, finance is not separate from life, since it always goes with the flow of life, and it can be considered as financial flow.
Especially, there are a number of projects that focus on enhancing the role of women, such as “EMPOWERING WOMEN LEADERSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION TOWARDS DIGITALIZATION AND GLOBALIZATION AGES” under the HE Leadership for Social Inclusion and Gender Equality project funded by the British Council.
Pursuing finance? Of course. Finance to me is both a profession and a career. I feel comfortable doing financial work. As mentioned, now I am working in finance with a strong connection with social responsibility, sustainable development of the economy, a green economy, and a circular economy. I am pleased to share that my colleagues and I are implementing projects in green investment, green finance, biomass energy, renewable energy, green label, eco-label, and CO2 emission reduction.
7. Do you have any (final) words for specifically girls and women who already are in the field and also for ones who would like to join in the future?
I reckon it would be difficult to tell someone, not just the girls, what to do, or just follow the majority. Speaking from my view, first, listen to what you want, what your personality and interests are, then decide if you are suitable for a certain industry. This is the core of job selection and matching.
Bonus: Please feel free to share more on this topic if my above questions do not cover all your broad knowledge and experience on that.
One thing I need to discuss more: finance is the flow. That flow has changed a lot under the influence of technological innovation. Therefore, when choosing a job in finance, also pay attention to new trends in finance. Currently, people are talking a lot about Fintech, about the integration of technology in finance. Perhaps it is also an option.
Particularly for girls, identify the advantages of women's nature, and identify one’s personality and passions before making career choices. Wish you always stay confident, shine and achieve success.
Happy Women’s Day and best wishes to you. I hope that you always have both physical and mental capacity for all your work contributing to society.
Thank you for your time.
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