Name : Phan Luong
Current job title : innovation and strategy specialist at VIB (Vietnamese International Bank)
Year of graduation : 2014
Nationality : Vietnamese
Why did you choose this MSc?
“When I decided to study abroad, I looked at a Financial Times rankings list, and RSM ranked well and had reasonable fees. I had worked for a film studio for a year as a scriptwriter, and I wanted to combine my fondness of creativity with my major in business management. That's why RSM’s MSc Management of Innovation was a perfect choice for me, even though the field itself was totally unheard of in my country then. It felt like I was gambling at that time, but the RSM’s reputation and the programme convinced me to take the leap of faith.”
How would you describe the programme and RSM?
“The programme did a great job in engaging students, instructors and real companies alike. Even though I had no background in innovation or technology, I was able to catch up quickly and learn so much from my classmates and professors. I loved the way the professors designed the assignments to make sure we can grab the 'academic' knowledge even if we didn't go to class, and the lecture is purely to verify the knowledge by 'critical thinking' sessions. The amount of pre-class preparation was high, but it was worthwhile as I could attend lecture with great confidence and shift my focus towards discussing rather than writing or memorising. Almost every course allowed students to spend real time with real organisations to work on meaningful matters. That's the least I can expect from a heavily academic environment as Europe, and I truly appreciate RSM for such a thoughtful curriculum.”
What was the biggest challenge in this master?
“I came from Vietnam to study in a culture totally strange to me. People here were generally nice to me, yet it took some time to adjust to the 'straight-to-your-face' style of working and talking. The cultural difference made conversation in class or social events stretch from awkward to stressful sometimes. I was lucky, though, to get several close friends there to help me attune to the situation. Two Dutch guys actively approached me during our kick-off session to help me feel more comfortable, and we have been best friends since then. The change from Asian education to western style also troubled me sometimes, but I was excited enough by the improvement in quality that I could manage to bypass the barriers, achieving significant results during the master.”
What made the greatest impression?
“Our class was small, around 40 people, and I truly loved how we were close to each other. We often organized BBQ parties, went out together, and even went to Taipei for a study trip. Even though we came from different backgrounds, we appreciated one another, and never failed to learn from ourselves and each other. I’m still in contact with most of my class, which is exactly what an international study should result in.”
How did your studies at RSM shape your career?
“After the study, I was determined to choose innovation management as my career path. As Vietnamese companies were not familiar with the concept, I decided to go back to my country and make a difference. It was a struggle to find the right job here, but in the end, I can enlist myself in bringing impactful innovations for one of the best local banks in Vietnam. The master programme provided me not only every piece of foundation knowledge, but also experience working with innovative organisations in an uncertain environment. Without my time in the Netherlands, I would have been a completely different person now.”
What are your future plans?
“In the next five years, I plan to study as much as possible from real-life experience and enhance my career path in Vietnam. After that, I would pursue additional academic opportunities such as a PhD, and look towards instructing or coaching to make sure innovation in Vietnam is no longer a shallow concept.”