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Health at Heart

Health at Heart

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

January 7, 2020

Sue Le, of Havas Health and Red Havas in Vietnam, talks about the country’s bustling healthcare market and why she is a “Woman to Watch” in 2020.

"My formula for being  a good boss is, when in doubt, lead with a joke"

Havas Vietnam’s Sue Le ended 2019 on a high after she was included in Campaign Asia’s Women to Watch, a prestigious annual list which draws together inspirational professionals from across the continent. As General Manager, Sue leads communications for Havas Health and Red Havas in Vietnam from her base in Ho Chi Minh City. Here, she talks about her career beginnings in journalism, Vietnam’s rapidly growing healthcare market, and why sustainability needs to be a top priority in the country’s pharmaceutical industry as we begin the 2020s.

 

How did you get your start in the advertising/PR industry? What excites you about the industry?

My career experiences have been tremendously interesting and challenging. I started my  career as a technology and lifestyle reporter at a business magazine. It took me nearly six years to develop my writing and networking skills, during which time I had the opportunity to interact with quite a lot of businesses in Vietnam.

Between 2003 and 2004, S-Fone led to an important turning point in the Vietnamese mobile market. At the time, it was Vietnam’s first CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) mobile service provider. I was extremely impressed by the youthfulness and dynamism of this service and soon realized the need for communication in this potential market. Without hesitation, I decided to change my career.

What is your role in Havas Vietnam? What are your main responsibilities?

At Havas Vietnam, I have clients profiled in high impact media. I champion the biggest pharma and healthcare accounts of the agency, including Sanofi, Roche Diagnostics, and GSK, to name just a few. I am in charge of government engagement and corporate affairs, and I conduct national-scale communication campaigns with government outreach for top corporations in Vietnam.

What skills make for an effective leader and a good boss?

Continuously acquiring new knowledge and staying on top of developments in my field is how I prove I am responsible and professional. Being in the know allows me to guide my team effectively. I trust in each person’s inner strengths and potential development. As Mary Poppins says, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down,” and for me, sugar is humor. We have to be professional, hard-working, and productive, but it also has to be fun. My formula for being  a good boss is, when in doubt, lead with a joke.

How did it feel to be included in Campaign Asia’s Women to Watch?

I am proud and empowered by this inclusion. My passion for the healthcare industry has been growing, along with the evolution of the company into Havas Health.

What makes the health market in Vietnam unique?

Vietnam has many advantages in this sector— its stable political climate, its population of 96 million, its trained human resources, and, of course, its position as the gateway to ASEAN countries. The Vietnamese market’s readiness is high, with a large, young population. The demand for healthcare and safety has been increasing in line with customer awareness of health problems. Thus, the call for multinational businesses providing health-related services is critical.

The country also has great potential to stand at the forefront of this trend, with a high number of internet users and high smartphone app usage in both urban and rural areas. That readiness and potential will build a solid springboard for the country to catch up with the revolution.

"Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam in general have an inner beauty, which I believe you cannot find anywhere else in the world"

Why do you think it’s important for pharma companies to be more socially responsible?

Social responsibility can develop good will and access in developing markets. To succeed in the local environment, pharma companies should overhaul their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approaches toward more simple, transparent, and concrete foundations. The benefits can be manifold. Embracing CSR can redeem the industry’s reputation with the general public. Through CSR programs, pharma companies can strengthen and solidify their dedication to patient health and ensure that they care, understand the needs, and have the ability to protect patients. It also can help attract and retain talent—employees care about the public perception of the companies where they work.

What are the biggest challenges facing your clients in Vietnam?

Numerous challenges related to policies and the business climate exist in Vietnam. While the overall policy framework is clear, implementation is still weak, as evidenced by the recurrence of challenges identified over years and years. These challenges include innovation capacity, management capabilities, and skills. Vietnam is also a collectivist country, and community concerns will almost always come before business or individual needs.

However, our healthcare sector has grown significantly in the last decade, with positive changes in government policies and an increase in domestic regulation of imported drugs. Regulations on advertising and clinical trials can create obstacles for sellers looking to break into the market, but with the right information, Vietnam offers many opportunities for potential suppliers.

Over the past year, Vietnam’s pharmaceutical market has grown by 10 percent to $5.2 billion (USD), and the growth momentum is projected to continue with rising expectations of a better quality of life.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?

Outside of work, I spend a lot of time pursuing my studies. I have just received a full scholarship from Western Sydney University and International School Business Education Institute in Vietnam to achieve an MBA. Running for a purpose is my favorite hobby.

You are based in Ho Chi Minh City—what do you love about it, where do you like to eat, and what are the best things to do in the city?

HCMC, in particular, and Vietnam, in general, have an inner beauty, which I believe you cannot find anywhere else. In the sprawl and chaos of a growing city, we recognize life and desire. I have known many foreigners to come back to Vietnam, especially HCMC, after their first visit due to the development, innovation, and transformation of the city. If you want to deeply explore and indulge yourself in this beloved city, you should try the Vietnamese cuisine as well as the Saigon River here. And if you have more time, you should explore further areas in the North or the South of our country.

"My formula for being  a good boss is, when in doubt, lead with a joke"

Havas Vietnam’s Sue Le ended 2019 on a high after she was included in Campaign Asia’s Women to Watch, a prestigious annual list which draws together inspirational professionals from across the continent. As General Manager, Sue leads communications for Havas Health and Red Havas in Vietnam from her base in Ho Chi Minh City. Here, she talks about her career beginnings in journalism, Vietnam’s rapidly growing healthcare market, and why sustainability needs to be a top priority in the country’s pharmaceutical industry as we begin the 2020s.

 

How did you get your start in the advertising/PR industry? What excites you about the industry?

My career experiences have been tremendously interesting and challenging. I started my  career as a technology and lifestyle reporter at a business magazine. It took me nearly six years to develop my writing and networking skills, during which time I had the opportunity to interact with quite a lot of businesses in Vietnam.

Between 2003 and 2004, S-Fone led to an important turning point in the Vietnamese mobile market. At the time, it was Vietnam’s first CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) mobile service provider. I was extremely impressed by the youthfulness and dynamism of this service and soon realized the need for communication in this potential market. Without hesitation, I decided to change my career.

What is your role in Havas Vietnam? What are your main responsibilities?

At Havas Vietnam, I have clients profiled in high impact media. I champion the biggest pharma and healthcare accounts of the agency, including Sanofi, Roche Diagnostics, and GSK, to name just a few. I am in charge of government engagement and corporate affairs, and I conduct national-scale communication campaigns with government outreach for top corporations in Vietnam.

What skills make for an effective leader and a good boss?

Continuously acquiring new knowledge and staying on top of developments in my field is how I prove I am responsible and professional. Being in the know allows me to guide my team effectively. I trust in each person’s inner strengths and potential development. As Mary Poppins says, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down,” and for me, sugar is humor. We have to be professional, hard-working, and productive, but it also has to be fun. My formula for being  a good boss is, when in doubt, lead with a joke.

How did it feel to be included in Campaign Asia’s Women to Watch?

I am proud and empowered by this inclusion. My passion for the healthcare industry has been growing, along with the evolution of the company into Havas Health.

What makes the health market in Vietnam unique?

Vietnam has many advantages in this sector— its stable political climate, its population of 96 million, its trained human resources, and, of course, its position as the gateway to ASEAN countries. The Vietnamese market’s readiness is high, with a large, young population. The demand for healthcare and safety has been increasing in line with customer awareness of health problems. Thus, the call for multinational businesses providing health-related services is critical.

The country also has great potential to stand at the forefront of this trend, with a high number of internet users and high smartphone app usage in both urban and rural areas. That readiness and potential will build a solid springboard for the country to catch up with the revolution.

"Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam in general have an inner beauty, which I believe you cannot find anywhere else in the world"

Why do you think it’s important for pharma companies to be more socially responsible?

Social responsibility can develop good will and access in developing markets. To succeed in the local environment, pharma companies should overhaul their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approaches toward more simple, transparent, and concrete foundations. The benefits can be manifold. Embracing CSR can redeem the industry’s reputation with the general public. Through CSR programs, pharma companies can strengthen and solidify their dedication to patient health and ensure that they care, understand the needs, and have the ability to protect patients. It also can help attract and retain talent—employees care about the public perception of the companies where they work.

What are the biggest challenges facing your clients in Vietnam?

Numerous challenges related to policies and the business climate exist in Vietnam. While the overall policy framework is clear, implementation is still weak, as evidenced by the recurrence of challenges identified over years and years. These challenges include innovation capacity, management capabilities, and skills. Vietnam is also a collectivist country, and community concerns will almost always come before business or individual needs.

However, our healthcare sector has grown significantly in the last decade, with positive changes in government policies and an increase in domestic regulation of imported drugs. Regulations on advertising and clinical trials can create obstacles for sellers looking to break into the market, but with the right information, Vietnam offers many opportunities for potential suppliers.

Over the past year, Vietnam’s pharmaceutical market has grown by 10 percent to $5.2 billion (USD), and the growth momentum is projected to continue with rising expectations of a better quality of life.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?

Outside of work, I spend a lot of time pursuing my studies. I have just received a full scholarship from Western Sydney University and International School Business Education Institute in Vietnam to achieve an MBA. Running for a purpose is my favorite hobby.

You are based in Ho Chi Minh City—what do you love about it, where do you like to eat, and what are the best things to do in the city?

HCMC, in particular, and Vietnam, in general, have an inner beauty, which I believe you cannot find anywhere else. In the sprawl and chaos of a growing city, we recognize life and desire. I have known many foreigners to come back to Vietnam, especially HCMC, after their first visit due to the development, innovation, and transformation of the city. If you want to deeply explore and indulge yourself in this beloved city, you should try the Vietnamese cuisine as well as the Saigon River here. And if you have more time, you should explore further areas in the North or the South of our country.

Patricia Murphy joined Havas Group in October 2019 as a Senior Editor and Writer. She has a background in digital journalism and content creation.

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