"When I studied at RMIT Vietnam in 2001, it was like going to a start-up company.
The University was very new; still in its first year in Vietnam. It was highly interactive and it was very nice to study there because I had a good chance to talk to all the lecturers. Studying there was like being part of a very good conversation between the consumer and the company. RMIT Vietnam also has a very good mix – you study in Vietnam, but you get international exposure too, so the University produces a workforce that has a strong international knowledge without losing touch with local reality.
I decided at university that I didn’t want to work for other people.
Forming a company when you're very young and in university, you always start with too much enthusiasm and naivety. RMIT Vietnam was a great enabler of these ideas without tearing them down. When I asked for flexibility in my studies [to set up my business, instead of complete internships], my teachers were extremely helpful and sent some people from Melbourne to help me.
My mentor, Bob Fraser, was an adviser to IBM in Melbourne and had a huge impact on me.
He transformed me from a kid with a dream to a kid with a proper business plan. He taught me that the hardest part is having a proper business plan for what you want to do. Once you have enthusiasm and a proper growth structure, you often get something out of it. In my case this was Jodric, which is now an innovative and focused company in its field, providing sales and marketing solutions for property developers, banks and finance companies in Vietnam.
We had to become very brave.
Setting up a business was very challenging at first. We had no track record; the personnel were a bunch of students who had absolutely no industry experience, and it was very hard to find clients in the beginning. Once we had clients, we had to help solve problems we didn’t fully understand because we had no business experience. There were lots of ups and downs. When it was down, we just moved on.
We learned that it’s ok to be naïve, but always be honest and sincere with clients.
If you do that, people will often help you in return. For example, I didn’t know how billing worked when I started Jodric. So I went to our first client and shared our payroll with him and how much we had to pay in administrative costs. I said, “If we can just make the billing cover these costs we’ll be happy!” He laughed at us, but he helped us. Even now, we say to our clients don’t pay us until you see results. We are a very results-oriented company and that’s how we survive. They pay us when they see the results, and we’re very transparent with them.
I encourage entrepreneurial spirit in my company.
I always say to my employees that if they want to start a business we’ll be the first people to help them with their business plans. That’s a really important part of our workplace culture, and we believe it’s the most impactful way to help our country Vietnam and its economy to be successful. Our motto at Jodric now is to help other businesses to be successful.
Keep your vision and don’t forget about it.
I see so many companies fail within the first two years when they have a great vision but aren’t meticulous about reaching their goals. When I give advice to young people starting a business, I say the first thing you need is a vision of what you want to do. You have to believe in something. Once you have a vision you must set very meticulous goals to measure them by. You have to reach a certain milestone; you have to reach a certain amount of revenue. It’s ok to dream, but be realistic.
To make an impact, I don’t believe in charity work; I believe in helping people to self-sustain.
Personally, the impact I want to make for society is to build people. I really believe in the importance of helping them to understand their values, teaching them, or even just leaving them to do what they want without blocking their way. The advice I give to my mentees is to focus on the values you can bring to society. Some people just want to have a fulfilled family, and that’s perfectly ok. Find your values, contribute to your society, do good to your family and friends. Find what you want to do deep down inside of yourself and go ahead and do it. Just make sure it’s what you want deeply in your heart, and that it fuels your desires to go to work each day."
Ngo Quoc Dung studied a Bachelor of Applied Science (Information Technology and Multimedia) at RMIT Vietnam, graduating in 2004. He was awarded RMIT’s Outstanding Alumni Award (International) in 2015.
Top and insert: Ngo Quoc Dung pictured in the Swanston Academic Building. Photos by RMIT alumnus Carla Gottgens.
Background image: RMIT's Swanston Academic Building.