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Celebrating our people - Madam Ha Thu Thanh, Chairwoman of Deloitte Vietnam

Deloitte SEA has many amazing people and as we celebrate our 175th Anniversary this year, we want to salute our longest serving partners. Here, we spotlight Madam Ha Thu Thanh, Chairwoman at Deloitte Vietnam, who has been with Deloitte Vietnam for almost 30 years! 

1.      When did you first join Deloitte and what was your role? 

After I graduated from one of the most prestigious accounting universities in Vietnam in 1983, I started working in the Department of Accounting & Auditing Policy at the Ministry of Finance (MOF) of Vietnam. 

In 1991, I was assigned by the MOF to work for the Vietnam Auditing Company (VACO), which was the first independent auditing company established in Vietnam.

In 1992, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (DTT) established its presence in Vietnam as a Representative Office, and I was the key person who connected DTT and VACO. In May 1995, DTT and VACO formed an auditing joint venture to provide quality services to clients by combining local expertise with international standards. I was appointed the Deputy CEO of this joint venture.

In September 1995, I was seconded to Deloitte US in the Phoenix Arizona office under the Global Development Program. 

I have now been with Deloitte for nearly 30 years, with 22 years as CEO and Chairwoman of Deloitte Vietnam. 

2.      How you have progressed over the years at Deloitte?

I usually joke with my colleagues that if I were to write about my working experiences in my CV, there would only be two lines – worked for MOF from 1982 to 1991; and from 1991 until retirement, working for Deloitte! Deloitte has been and is always my first and only love!                            

I remember that when I first came back from the US, I was tempted with attractive offers both in Vietnam and overseas, offering higher salaries and better working conditions. At the same time, I was also facing numerous challenges to help grow the auditing profession in Vietnam. I went through many difficulties since the beginning of the joint venture, to the integration of the Deloitte SEA cluster, and recently the journey to Deloitte Asia Pacific. Each of these milestones are huge challenges for me and the Deloitte Vietnam leadership team. However, it was during these moments of uncertainty that I recalled the promise I made to myself when I was sent to study and work at Deloitte US in 1995 – that I would learn the skills, come back and contribute to growing Deloitte and the auditing sector in Vietnam.

At Deloitte, I learnt the importance of commitment and throughout my working life, I have been committed to making an impact that matters not only to Deloitte, but also to the wider auditing sector in Vietnam and to my community.

3.      What do you enjoy most about working at Deloitte?

What I appreciate most is the focused and strategic leadership development of the local team that is implemented consistently. When I was given the unique opportunity to go to the US office on the Global Development Program (GDP), I was the very first person in the auditing sector in Vietnam to be sent on such a secondment. Today, almost 20 partners and directors from Deloitte Vietnam have already been to the US under the GDP. We believe that this has succeeded in building a very strong and unique leadership in Deloitte Vietnam.

4.      What is the most important lesson that you have learnt at Deloitte?

The most important lesson that I learnt at Deloitte is to foster the As One spirit and to leverage on the strengths of coming together as One Firm – first as part Deloitte SEA and now as part Deloitte Asia Pacific. Joining the SEA cluster was a significant milestone for Deloitte Vietnam as we were able to present the strengths and uniqueness of Deloitte to our clients by leveraging on the resources, experiences and expertise across businesses, service lines and countries. This certainly empowered us to gain more trust from clients and support for the growth of Deloitte in Vietnam market. 

Being part of Deloitte Asia Pacific now makes us even stronger and I believe that all Deloitte leaders and practices will continue to collaborate and make a greater impact with our clients, our people and society.

5.      You are actively involved in corporate responsibility in your communities. Can you tell us why this is important to you? 

In my opinion, all businesses need to clearly understand and implement corporate responsibility (CR) initiatives to contribute to a more sustainable future. I have even argued that we should consider this as a corporate ‘duty’ rather than a ‘responsibility’. When we consider it as a duty, it comes from within, from the company’s inner desire to contribute to sustainability; instead of it being a ‘responsibility’ which is more legalized.

Making an impact that matters has always been Deloitte’s purpose and in the recent refresh of our Shared Values, the new value “Lead the way” was added. This means that we not only lead the profession but also reinvent it for the future. In addition, we are committed to creating opportunities and leading the way to a more sustainable world.

I am just one of the Deloitte leaders living this purpose and implementing this shared value in all the CR activities in my community. I believe that each and every member at Deloitte Vietnam is doing the same – fulfilling their duty to contribute to the communities and leading the way in their daily work and lives.

6.      You have achieved a number of awards including Forbes' 50 Most Influential Women 2019 & 2017. What contributed to your success?

In my 20 years of leadership at Deloitte, the two values that contributed to my success are the 2Ps – Persistence and Passion. Persistence to overcome challenges and persistence to pursue passion.   

Going back to my story of being faced with temptations when I first came back from the US, if I did not have the passion to grow the sector, or the persistence to fulfill my promise and my dreams, I would not be where I am today.

In addition, being in a leadership role requires me to have persistence in carrying out Deloitte’s purpose and communicating it passionately to the whole practice. In this challenging world, persistence is needed to lead change. Passion is like the fire from within yourself and when you persist in your purposes, that fire will generate the energy to meet the goals.  

7.      You hold leadership positions at Deloitte, in the community and at professional organizations. How do you balance all these with your family/personal life? 

My life, like others, is the interaction of four major domains: work, home, community and private life.  

While it may seem that more time is being spent on work and community, I prefer to talk about work-life integration instead of work-life balance. It is about the quality of the time spent together – I feel effective and a sense of achievement, enjoying every moment whether I am contributing to the community or whether I am at home spending time with my family.

Despite having a busy working life, I have never missed any important family events. I am even the “chair” for the gathering of my old schoolmates – from primary school to my master degree course mates. All these meaningful moments with my loved ones and my contributions to the community, fuel me with more energy and passion to pursue my profession at work.

8.      What advice would you give to our new hires on how to succeed in their careers as well as personal lives?

I would advise them of the two Ps – Passion and Persistence. Young talents have a lot of dreams and the desire for success. However, there is a difference between what one likes to do and the opportunities available. What you like to do may not be available to you, and others may not recognize your capabilities. If you have the opportunity to do something, grab it and do not miss the chance! Turn it into what you like and sharpen your capabilities to achieve success. By having persistence and the belief that you can do it, you will be able to excel. The fire within yourself will lead the way forward.

9.      What would you like to wish Deloitte as we celebrate our 175th Anniversary?

I have been with Deloitte for nearly the whole of my working life and I am always proud of being a Deloitte employee. Deloitte’s legacy of making an impact over the past 175 years runs in the blood of every Deloitte employee and will continue in the generations to come!

Happy Birthday Deloitte and may the next 175 years be even more successful!

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