GoBear, Asia's first and only metasearch engine of insurance and banking products, has recently announced opening GoBear Code Unit, its regional in-house software development team in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This new unit is responsible for building GoBear’s next generation application code and branching out into new technologies to serve the company’s growth targets.
|Ivonne Bojoh, chief experience officer and co-founder of GoBear |
Headquartered in Singapore, one of the most alluring technology havens where top talents from all over the world reside, GoBear did have the option to setup its software development team in the Lion City instead of Vietnam. GoBear’s chief experience officer and co-founder Ivonne Bojoh discussed the company’s strategic choice and how it may benefit the local technology startup community.
How would you compare the technical capacity of Vietnamese software engineers to their counterparts in Singapore? Why did GoBear choose to setup the regional in-house software development team in Ho Chi Minh City?
The interesting thing is that across Asia, there are many technology talents, but each country has a different focus. Some countries may be more advanced in front-end skills, while those in other countries might be well-experienced in back-end skills. At Singapore, there is also a large pool of highly-skilled international professionals who are working for big brands like Facebook or Google.
|I believe GoBear and many other technology companies are actually looking at Ho Chi Minh City as the “Silicon Valley of the East,” because there is a rise in the quantity and availability of Vietnamese talent. |
When comparing Singapore and Vietnam, what I appreciate the most in both countries is the governmental effort to boost their technology capabilities. There are many good quality technical universities in Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City, and both governments focus on developing technical competitiveness to support the rising internet industry and the growing demand for engineers.
I believe GoBear and many other technology companies are actually looking at Ho Chi Minh City as the “Silicon Valley of the East,” because there is a rise in the quantity and availability of Vietnamese talent. After interviewing candidates here, I noticed that there is a strong sense of pride in Vietnamese people. They want to make a significant difference and build something special for their fellow citizens, which is something I truly appreciate and can relate to. This personal motivation fits GoBear perfectly because our product is made by consumers for consumers.
|GoBear chose Ho Chi Minh City instead of Singapore for its new GoBear Code Unit |
Talent retention is a never-ending topic. What makes you believe that GoBear can attract and retain the top talents for this new team?
It is true that talent retention is a huge challenge for many companies, especially in the technology industry where there is always a shortage of good engineers and so there are many great employment opportunities.
Firstly, we at GoBear always believe that remuneration is important to talents. Those who choose to join us have to be able to sustain their family and build their future at the same time. Secondly, when you spend most of your daytime at the workplace, that workplace should be a happy place and you should be able to like the people that you work with.
So it is very important for us to promote a sense of community around the team where people can learn from others, understand that it is fine to make mistakes, and have the opportunity to choose to work on projects that they like. Last but not least, we believe that empowering people with a sense of contribution and accomplishment is key to retaining the best talents.
How will GoBear contribute to the development of local technology startups with the launch of GoBear Code Unit in Ho Chi Minh City?
The reason why we set up the GoBear Code Unit at The Hive co-working space in District 2 in Ho Chi Minh City is that we want to immerse ourselves in the dynamic environment of the local technology startup scene. By choosing the co-working space, we can also use their facilities for the social and educational activities we have planned for our team and the city’s tech community.
One of the events we are going to organise this year is a monthly tech meetup. This is a common type of event in our industry where software engineers and people who love technology can socialise and talk about topics of interest. For our monthly meetup in Ho Chi Minh City, we will have our team members present or we will invite industry leaders to talk about their respective subjects. Anyone who has an interesting angle can also talk to us and lead one of the meetups.
In addition, we will encourage senior members of the GoBear Code Unit to reach out to their professional network. We will also connect with universities in Vietnam and offer to share our experience and knowledge with technology students.
I believe this will be very beneficial for Vietnamese students because they will have an opportunity to look into the actual working industry, which can be very different from studying in a classroom. In the near future, we will arrange other events like hackathons, a competitive and challenging event for enthusiastic, young developers to showcase their talent for a good cause.
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