Nguyen My Lan is a familiar face to the media and B2B market in Vietnam. After 16 illustrious years in power transmission, energy, aviation, and medical equipment, she made a surprise move into paints and coatings.
After her first year as general director of AkzoNobel Decorative Paints Vietnam, My Lan talks about the company’s development plans.
Nguyen My Lan, general director of AkzoNobel Decorative Paints Vietnam.
Your move to the paints and coatings industry has taken many by surprise. What is behind your decision to venture into a new field?
What impresses me the most about GE and now AkzoNobel is their achievements and culture. If a brand can't prove its worth to customers and employees, it has no future. AkzoNobel’s more than 200-year history is one of constant development, from goods to people.
It has also made great contributions to the growth of communities and entire societies across the globe. AkzoNobel's philosophy of doing business for a better life is something that resonates at a primal level with me.
These shared values and the respect for the company gave me the confidence to embark on this new journey.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic not make this decision harder?
To be honest, it was not an easy decision to leave my comfort zone and venture into a completely new field, especially in such an uncertain world. There was significant pressure and many spoke against the move.
Vietnam has been quick to adjust to the pandemic and mitigate damages, but the consequences of COVID-19 can still be felt. However, I don’t believe it is a cause for concern in the long term.
What helped me decide at the end of the day is that I am always looking for new challenges and personal growth. At the same time, I don't set overly ambitious goals that I might not be able to achieve – success for me is overcoming my current self.
Executives are facing enormous uncertainties today. What new path will AkzoNobel take on your watch?
The COVID-19 pandemic has directly impacted supply chains and raw materials supply and raised prices. In many countries, inflation is becoming a pressing problem. Businesses across industries and nations are facing these issues. We need to formulate solutions and action plans. We will need to be proactive to respond to the uncertainty in the world.
I joined AkzoNobel because of its people – the company has built a team of devoted, energetic, and visionary individuals in Vietnam. My topmost responsibility is to create favourable conditions and an environment that facilitates their growth. To respond to market changes in such a hard period, we have adopted a spirit of discipline, creativity and preparing.
Our biggest advantage is our conviction to pursue sustainable development. It is the guiding star for all activities at AkzoNobel. As a supplier of surface solutions for all constructions, we bring to the market products that are aesthetically pleasing while ensuring the health of users with the right volatile solids content.
The strategy of AkzoNobel’s sustainable development is timeless as it helps reduce environmental pollution, cut greenhouse gas emissions and save money. For Dulux Professional, AkzoNobel’s flagship sustainable product, we use KeepCool technology which can reflect UV rays and reduce wall temperatures by up to 5 degrees Celsius compared to traditional paint and reduce the electricity bill by 10-15 per cent.
Consider how much electricity can be saved if KeepCool technology is used to protect 100 high-rise buildings. Our products not only save money during the life cycle of a building, but also help save energy in cities and, more importantly, cut carbon emissions.
How are your products helping reduce users’ environmental footprint?
Dulux Professional offers premium protection for up to 10 years. Users do not have to renew the paint surface during this time, saving money and materials. Apart from reducing consumption, AkzoNobel's solutions also bring economic advantages to the buildings.
For instance, we have 2-in-1 products such as Dulux Professional Weathershield Express which needs only two coatings instead of three, helping investors reduce cost and labour and speed up construction.
AkzoNobel tailors solutions to the needs of each kind of customer. For hotel and resort projects, we offer moisture and salt resistance. For hospitals and schools, we have products with antibacterial features that are easy to clean. Our sustainability story is a combination of values and enriching everyone – the environment, manufacturers, construction units, and investors along with end users.
What are the group’s corporate social responsibility activities?
AkzoNobel is proud of our CSR initiatives to preserve and renew architectural works of historical and artistic value around the world. Some of our works in Vietnam include the Dai Lanh lighthouse, Vung Tau lighthouse, Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts, and the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Building. We are fortunate to be in a position to partner with others to preserve these buildings.
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, we will continue this journey along with many other CSR activities. We at AkzoNobel do not take community activities as just a social responsibility but as an opportunity to express our gratitude for the good things in life.