Working with a smile at SABECO

April 26, 2021 | 09:00
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As part of its strategy to become the leading beverage industry group in Vietnam, SABECO has not only implemented its SABECO 4.0 programme, which will transform its business to increase efficiency, it is also continuing to focus on developing human resources to make them domestically and globally competitive. Tran Kim Nga, a member of SABECO’s Board of Directors, talked with VIR’s Nguyen Huong about the corporation’s approach to human resources.

SABECO is a trusted brand for domestic consumers and a company of international stature. It has also set sights on endeavouring to become the country’s leading beverage company by 2025. What kind of approach does SABECO need to take in human capital to realise this goal?

working with a smile at sabeco
Tran Kim Nga, a member of SABECO’s Board of Directors

Like other businesses, we at the SABECO Board of Directors (BoD) have always considered human resources the most important factor in our sustainable development strategy. In 2018, a business development plan including seven main pillars was submitted to the BoD. Human resources (HR) was one of the main pillars that would play an important role in the continued development of the business. We from the BoD strongly agreed with, and believe in, the direction of this HR-centric strategy.

Given the current context of globalisation and the speed of development in the 4.0 era, we need dynamic and talented individuals who can be continuously trained to match the fast pace of our development.

Many of SABECO’s employees have undergone training over the years and have matured and accumulated enough knowledge to meet the requirements of their respective jobs. We are very proud of these employees because they are always ready to be engaged and work towards a common purpose.

We have previously taken steps to standardise the salary and bonus scheme across the corporation and have also made sure that the right person is assigned to the right position. To motivate employees and help improve productivity, we have researched and aligned our salary and bonus scheme with the rest of the fast-moving consumer goods industry and have begun to evaluate employees based on their performance. With this, we hope we can now offer our employees one of the best and most attractive working environments.

In addition, we are constantly improving our internal work culture, including implementing policies that enhance open and transparent communication with employees. I think the common mentality of human beings is that they want a job where they can make worthwhile contributions and dedicate themselves – and, of course, be recognised for those contributions.

Especially when the employees see themselves as part of the company and are properly encouraged and recognised, they will not only give 100 per cent, but they will devote themselves to the fullest and give 150-200 per cent. We have been doing a great job of motivating and recognising our employees’ achievements and motivating them to give their best.

What do you think about the SABECO’s current human resources, and are they ready to take on the greater responsibilities within SABECO?

SABECO has a long history that spans across 146 years of constant development. From a small brewery, SABECO has grown into one of the leading beverage groups in Vietnam. These achievements are thanks to the right leadership strategy and the cooperation of SABECO’s employees.

Currently, we have more than 8,000 employees, and almost all of the directors of our factories and trading companies as well as our department heads are Vietnamese. They all make great contributions, and each has the ability to unite the employees who report to them. We are also proud to have a team of more than 50 skilled brew masters, all Vietnamese, most of whom have been with the company for a long time already, and who have the requisite experience to ensure that we bring the best quality beer to the market. I believe in our Vietnamese employees without reservations, as they continue to do a tremendous job each day.

One of the most important characteristics of SABECO’s HR approach is by assessing everyone on equal grounds and adjusting each person’s promotion roadmap to their own abilities. Have there been any outstanding Vietnamese personnel who could rise above through sheer talent?

When we are talking about outstanding individuals who have achieved a lot at SABECO, we cannot avoid mention of Lam Du An, who is considered the soul of SABECO’s beer products. Having been with the company since graduating from university 30 years ago, An has been continuously striving and rose from a manufacturing engineer to deputy general director for technology and engineering.

He is now responsible for beer quality, smooth factory operations, and so many other things. An has always treated the company as his life and prides himself as a contributor to the success of Bia Saigon. We really appreciate such a valuable employees and are confident that he will forever be part of Bia Saigon.

Recently, SABECO appointed a foreigner as deputy general director, showing great attention to middle- and high-level talent. What can you say about what seems to be a growing disparity between the number of Vietnamese and foreign employees at the company, and the growing tendency to hire more foreign personnel?

This is a sensitive issue and can be easily misinterpreted if we do not approach it with an open mind. Imagine a corporation as a train. The leadership team is like the locomotive steering the rest of the train. If the locomotive issues appropriate and correct policies, the train will run smoothly, reach the destination faster and easily overcome all obstacles.

Within the current context of globalisation, I think we should gradually change the way we look at company executives and disregard whether they are foreigners or locals. What we should look at is if their work yields good business results and if they are able to improve the quality of the lives of employees.

The main point is that, regardless of who sits on the board of directors, SABECO will always produce Vietnamese beer, which in turn will forever be a favourite product of the Vietnamese people. SABECO has always been a Vietnamese brand and a source of pride for Vietnam.

With regards to our new hire, Venus Teoh has 20 years of experience in the beer industry.

Previously, she worked for Asia-Pacific Brewery and Heineken in senior management positions, most recently as the international brand director for Tiger Beer. Teoh is intimately familiar with Vietnam’s beer industry, which is essential in helping SABECO meet the increasing demands and changing tastes of domestic consumers, as well as in fostering stronger bonds with the Vietnamese market.

Recently, SABECO’s marketing programmes have featured more innovative attractions. The brand’s corporate social responsibility programmes have also become more relevant such as the ‘Rise with Vietnam’ relay which helped workers who encountered difficulties due to the pandemic and which supported people in the central region to overcome difficulties caused by recent storms and floods. With her superb marketing skills, I believe that Venus Teoh will bring the Bia Saigon brand to a higher level.

In our development strategy, we will also roll out an exchange programme, where we will send employees to work for domestic and foreign partner companies and receive members from them to facilitate exchange of knowledge, learn new cultures, and gain skills and other qualifications. Understanding that the work environment is crucial for employees, we are working to make SABECO the happiest workplace where all employees are considered family members.

Employees will cooperate – even as they compete – with one another and will participate in initiatives that will drive the company ahead. We are trying to create the best conditions that will encourage employees to work hard and become dedicated to their jobs.

We are also striving to have all SABECO employees start each working day with a smile and fresh energy, eager to begin the day’s work at a good, supportive working environment.

By Phuong Thu

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