Head of Finance Business Partner at AIA Vietnam: “Setting goals, readiness in spirit, and mindset when pursuing an MBA is essential”
According to Bui Hoang My Linh, Head of Finance Business Partner at AIA Vietnam, an MBA is a long journey that demands a significant investment of time and effort. Therefore, it’s crucial for individuals to set clear goals, prepare mentally, and approach it with the right mindset to accumulate knowledge that supports their professional endeavors.
As you have more than 10 years of experience in the field of Finance, could you share more about her journey working in multinational corporations? What do you find most interesting about being dedicated to this work for such a long period?
In over 10 years working in this field, I’ve found the most fascinating thing is that Finance isn’t as dry as people might think. On the contrary, there are many interesting aspects, such as front-line positions, representing the Finance department to work directly with the Business sector.
Initially, I interned in Auditing and Accounting, but as I discovered my passion for more dynamic roles, I decided to commit to being a Finance Business Partner. This role supports the financial aspect for teams within the Business department, assisting them in making sound business decisions.
Having been dedicated to the same field for many years, have you encountered any challenges in your career journey?
I think the first difficulty I encountered was identifying a job that suited me. As someone who loves dynamism, change, and constant updates, it took me a while to realize that I fit well as a Finance Business Partner. This role demands agility in acquiring knowledge to quickly adapt to changes in the market, competitors, and customers.
The next challenge was rearranging work priorities when starting a job. I believe new graduates might face similar issues, like attending too many meetings without clear objectives. It left me feeling lost, not knowing where to start or what to do. Over time, I learned to adjust tasks, manage time, and align expectations with my superiors and colleagues to optimize my productivity.
Lastly, given the job requirements to collaborate with Business units for consultation, lacking economic context knowledge can be challenging. I believe that without continuous knowledge updates, it’s easy to find oneself not understanding discussions and facing difficulties in engaging clients. In such cases, focusing on a business perspective becomes quite a challenge.
In her opinion, what’s most important in self-management — external factors or internal self-awareness?
I always prioritize managing energy. When I’m mentally and physically prepared with positive energy, I firmly believe I can tackle any issues that arise at work. Alongside that is sticking to the set goals for the day, learning management skills to handle expectations from colleagues and superiors to avoid disrupting the work schedule.
In my perspective, self-management is a synergy where 30% is support from family, friends, colleagues, and superiors, while the remaining 70% depends on oneself. Personal effort helps us pursue ultimate goals and execute the outlined objectives. Sometimes, one might feel stressed, but I believe a certain level of pressure is necessary to push oneself beyond the comfort zone.
To sustain this over the long haul, the remaining 30% relies on assistance from the team, family, and friends. I believe that the better-trained the team is, the more time a manager has for other tasks. Therefore, a manager needs a strategy to develop their team within 3 or 6 months. This is something I apply to my team as well.
It is known that you are currently an MBA student at Western Sydney University. How do you manage your time while working and studying for the MBA?
My workdays typically revolve around three major goals that need to be accomplished each day, and I prioritize their order of execution. After locking in the schedule for the major tasks, I concentrate 100% on getting the work done, then proceed to tackle less important tasks.
While organizing my work schedule, I often allocate some time at the end of the day to learn a creative skill or meet friends, aiming to ensure that each day doesn’t solely revolve around work. I always aim for a balance to add more emotions and colors to each day.
Regarding balancing work and pursuing an MBA, I believe it depends on the goal you set for your MBA studies. For instance, for subjects directly related to my job, I’d set higher expectations compared to others. On the other hand, for more ‘general’ subjects, I’d lower my expectations. That’s how I minimize stress while engaging in the MBA program.
Finally, what advice would you give to young individuals to prepare them mentally to face the intensity of studying in an MBA program?
Firstly, the true value of an MBA isn’t solely in the diploma. Set goals for what you aim to accumulate while pursuing an MBA. I’ve previously pursued specialized certifications in Finance, but I found they didn’t align with my aspirations. An MBA is a different story. Engage in the program by leveraging your strengths to acquire both hard and soft skills for future growth.
Secondly, networking is an opportunity not to be missed. Consider how to engage with communities, make connections, and grow. In a classroom, you learn not only from professors and experts but also through interaction with mentors and peers in group exercises. These are invaluable chances to broaden your perspective and absorb experiences from others.
Lastly, prepare yourself mentally and emotionally before joining an MBA. When deciding to pursue further education, think beyond just acquiring a degree. Having the right mindset and readiness will drive you toward your aspirations. The MBA journey extends beyond knowledge; strive to develop other enduring values.
Wishing you greater success on your career and academic paths!
Thank you for the insightful and interesting sharing from Ms. Linh. Wish you good health and success in your career!
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