INTERVIEW WITH MS. PATRICIA ARANGUREN – DEZAN SHIRA & ASSOCIATESAugust 14, 2023
1. Kindly tell us something about your work profile/business including yourself.
I spent a year working as an international trade advisor at the Spanish Economic and Commercial Office in Ho Chi Minh and fell in love with Vietnam. I saw it as a great country to develop my career, full of opportunity and with a very fast-paced environment. Coming from Europe, living and working in a country with such a young population, I learned quickly that Vietnam is much more than what we learn about back home, and it is inspiring for me to be able to develop my career in such a fast-paced and positive environment.
2. When did you arrive in Vietnam and what made you / your company decided to stay here?
Dezan Shira & Associates has been in Vietnam since 2008. We arrived following our clients from China, after the firm was among the first pioneers seeing and seizing the opportunities for business there in in the early 90s, and also contributed to this development with publications such as the China-Briefing. Again pretty much ahead of today’s huge China+1 movement and interest in Vietnam as popular FDI destination. After having opened our first office in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (where I’m based) and Da Nang followed. Today, we have a team of over 50 employees in the country today, with our team growing strong lately.
3. How has your professional career or your company’s career developed since then?
Tremendously on both sides. While last year was still a time of post-pandemic reopening with especially our overseas clients still being a little bit careful with investments, the enquiries for company establishment or relation to Vietnam are skyrocketing – at least for our firm and we are in the challenging but satisfying position to onboard new talent to serve this unprecedented interest fast, localized and competent. Personally, I benefit with a steep learning curve and I feel only reconfirmed in my decision to commit to working in Vietnam as a young professional full time.
4. Culture shock related to work environment in Spain and Vietnam?
Well, I am sure for many foreigners the “Siesta” in Vietnam might be something unheard of, but being from Spain, I feel that our cultures are quite compatible, and I can well relate with the lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City. I can say though that I was surprised with the number of occasions celebrated in Vietnamese offices. But what is not to love about sharing food together, so I can say it is easy to adapt.
5. As far as your sector stands today, what services Dezan Shira offers to their clients?
We are a one-stop professional services firm. We guide our clients through the entire process of setting up their business in Vietnam. From market entry advisory and corporate structuring to setting up the entity and opening bank accounts, followed by all the back-office services such as accounting, taxes or HR and payroll. We also offer IT and ERP set up services, so I would say it is fair to say that the only thing firms who want to come here have to do themselves is focusing on their product and service, we are here to take over the rest, also after establishing the entity for our clients. Especially for family-owned businesses it is beneficial to really stick to their business first instead of hiring an entire team for back office tasks, admin, tax and what else simply needs to be done in Vietnam with the same (or more) diligence than in every other target market. With this disposition I am indeed confident that we can support Spanish firms here well, also in Spanish language.
6. What do you think are the biggest challenges for this sector in the future?
There are some legislative issues that make entering the Vietnamese market difficult for some sectors, and it is usually one thing to have the facts and figures on paper, another thing is to really understand how to apply these requirements in the actual day-to day practice, especially for those not familiar with them. So alone the time spent to understand and the inevitable trial-and error situations along the way simply cost money that clients lose for other important elements of their business operations.
That’s why apart from the constant need to adapt to new requirements, technologies, and global contexts there is always a real demand for professional support.
7. What type of promotional and communication campaigns do you work on?
We have an online publication, Vietnam Briefing, that offers information about the Vietnamese market, legislation, sector insights, or how to set up a business in Vietnam. We also host Webinars about different topics that we think are relevant for foreign companies either looking to enter or already in the Vietnamese market, as well as participate in im-person seminars on all these topics.
Lately, we’ve also launched our Vietnam Investor Portal, where we bundled resources targeted to the most pressing questions like where to invest, how to make use of government incentives and other crucial information to support the pre-investment process.
Other than that, we are also trying to be available regularly for supporting trusted organizations and partners with our expert knowledge, e.g. seminars or delegation visits.
8. What is your advice to companies interested in your services?
We offer tailor made services depending on our clients’ needs, so my number one advice is get in touch and let us figure out how we can help you.
9. Please tell us a little about future plans of your company in Vietnam.
We want to be where our clients want to be, so only so much – 3 offices are not enough!
Many thanks to Ms. Patricia Aranguren for sharing your experience with us.