Beyond borders


“Have an open mindset. Adopt a positive attitude. Be well-prepared for different scenarios.” These were the words of advice given by Nguyen Duc Minh, Assistant GM, Business Development at Keppel Land in Vietnam, when he was posted to Keppel REIT in Singapore from April to July 2013.

Minh, as he is fondly referred to, was on a three-month stint as part of Keppel Land’s career development and training programme for high-potential employees.

“Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs, is a new concept for Vietnam’s property market as the law and regulations of REITs were just introduced this year. We think that this is one of the growth strategies that we should explore, and what can be better than to learn from our sister company, Keppel REIT, which is already well-established,” Minh shared.

During his stay in Singapore, Minh’s biggest satisfaction was working closely with the investment team on Keppel REIT’s 50% acquisition of a prime Grade A commercial building, 8 Exhibition Street, in Melbourne, Australia.

Whilst the general nature of work is the same across borders, Minh describes Keppel REIT as a “sprinter in a stadium” where there is an established framework with less unknown factors.

This is unlike Keppel Land in Vietnam, which he said is akin to a “cross-country runner in an open field”, where the terrain is uncertain and the environment is less transparent. Hence, there is a need for greater stamina to maintain a steady pace and to envisage the course ahead.

Today, conducting feasibility studies and reviewing legal documents for new land acquisitions or divestments of projects are part and parcel of Minh’s work in Vientam. However, it was not all a bed of roses when he first joined Keppel Land as a Senior Investment Executive in 2006.

With no financial or legal background, Minh had to work extra hard to gain a keen understanding of these issues and how they could impact the Company’s interests.

For his passion and “Can-Do!” spirit, Minh was awarded the Outstanding Keppelites Award this year as well as Keppel Land’s Hall of Fame Award in 2012 for his embrace of Keppel’s core values.

Minh is also no stranger to Singapore. Having spent more than three years obtaining his Masters in Business Administration at the National University of Singapore and working at Keppel Land’s headquarters in Singapore, Minh blended right in with his Singaporean colleagues at Keppel REIT.

Local dialect phrases such as tapau, tahanand makan are not foreign to him as he has grown accustomed to using these words while conversing with his Singaporean or Malaysian colleagues and friends in Vietnam.

“In the long run, my family might move to Singapore for my 12-year-old son to study here and for my wife to fulfil her academic aspirations in marketing. We feel very attached to Singapore and consider it our second home.”

On his home country, Minh added, “Vietnam has its hidden charm. It will reward people who are patient and perseverant.”

Indeed, Keppel Land has been growing with Vietnam for more than 20 years. Despite economic challenges, the Company remains confident in the long-term growth potential of Vietnam.