It has been over three years since I approached a. Quân asked for recommendations for my scholarship applications. Though I received a ton of support from many former scholars, a. Quân has always been on the top of the most supportive and dedicated people that provide me with a lot of good advice. Being an CEO of IMP Agency and joining many activities, I was impressed with how a. Quân managed his time and supported me (and many others with their applications). Though I can entail him with many good words, Kindness is the word that instantly pop-up in my mind about a. Quân both in working and treating others.
We met up at 8 in the morning for this insightful and thorough interview.
1. Hi a. Quân, could you introduce more about yourself to the readers?
What is your superpower? And a fun fact about you.
Hi everyone, I am Quân Võ. I studied Computer Science at the University of Science. I have been working in Marketing and Business Development over the last 13 years and am now the CEO of IMP, a digital marketing agency.
My superpower is disciplined. One example is when I was in the busiest season in Ireland. At that time, I had to finish my Master’s thesis while planning for a new holiday and finding someone to rent my room via Airbnb. When I was in the hustle mode, I put myself in my plan and took all the actions seriously to achieve all the targets.
About the fun fact, well, as a person studying Computer Science and switching to do business, I used to be afraid of selling due to lacking necessary skills. However, after giving it a try, I have realized that selling is one of my highlighted abilities. Instead of focusing on selling services, I am attentive about listening to my client’s concerns and suggesting solutions for them.
I am a fanatic Manga person, and thus I have always spent 30 minutes a day reading manga no matter how busy I am.
2. I am lucky to know that you have a very unique background and learning. You started learning at the University of Science (Computer Science), and then changed to Business Related roles. What led you to the decision of pursuing business?
It did not start with a sharp turn but rather a journey. Again, as I studied Computer Science, I was not confident with my soft skills. It led me to earn my internship at Dale Carnegie Vietnam – the leading organization in consulting and improving the performance of organizations and individuals worldwide. It was where I also learned about business-related skills. I did not have that kind of career path in mind. But I have adapted to the environment, acknowledged my weaknesses, and thought of what I want to achieve in the long run. The happiness from helping our customers to achieve their goals while constantly leveraging myself to a better version has guided me to where I am now.
3. Could you tell more about your journey of career changes and later founding IMP & growing it up now?
As shared, I embarked on my career in Dale Carnegie Vietnam as a marketing intern. I utilized my skills with operating websites and technical support. Then I gradually moved to Marketing related roles. After that, the company allowed me to open a new business unit, Gennext, a brand of Dale Carnegie Vietnam, whose mission is to develop and improve transferable skills for Vietnamese youth from ages 8 to 22.
In 2014, after quite a journey with Dale Carnegie – my heart was long for doing something new. I joined a startup providing data analysis services to help clients make data-driven decisions. As that venture was small and could not afford to pay a good salary, I worked on several digital marketing projects with my friend to earn more.
The side projects turned out to be my interest and passion, and thus we decided to found IMP. It grew from a project to a company that focuses on inbound marketing as the term and utilization of Inbound Marketing, which was not popular before. I have led the company for the last eight years and have seen it evolving continuously. We also handled marketing activities for brand campaigns. During Covid’s time, we pivoted the business by working with SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises) and E-commerce worldwide.
Can you share further about the challenges that you have been facing when building IMP as it is today?
In the early days till three years ago, we had multiple problems related to two things: humans and money. At the earliest stage of freelancers, we lacked a sustainable pipeline and resources like human resources, money, and relationships. After gaining a better finance managing, the cash flow was maintainable. However, it was time that I also entered the challenge of finding and retaining the optimal human resources. I remembered receiving “heart-attacked” resignation emails at the weekend for many reasons.
After finishing the course about management, I have realized that the main challenges must lie in Direction and Strategy – where do I want our company to head towards, and when should we say No to align to our long-term growth. I focus on positioning our company in the marketing journey and leveraging our values in the ecosystem. The old saying is: Making the right choices weighs better than only putting in effort . My most key question is What are the company’s resources to maximize our growth?. We have found our answer and been working hard on our new direction.
4. As you have taken the role of leadership in your career very early on. How have you coped up with many obstacles & opportunities along the way?
I have been the founding member and managed four companies (unofficially more than ten businesses, but most were closed quite soon). Back at university, I also joined some youth organizations, which allowed me to contribute to society and sharpened my soft skills.
Then when founding the company, the responsibility has intensified to a higher level when I am the key person to affect the company and employees’ benefits. The truth is that sometimes I did not know what to do (laugh). But everyone was waiting for my decision to take action. It forced me to make a move, and thus my prior approach was to decide first and ensure it right later.
It is true to say that I played along and learned to adapt, kinda “Fake it till you make it”. But I was aware of my soft skills shortcomings and managing capabilities. I continued to learn to narrow my shortages. One example was I applied to learn about Corporate Finance to manage the financial flow and growth of the company.
I have also learned from various resources, especially from my mentors. Two things are accepting my failures and saying “no” to embrace my focus. Before, there were some projects that I felt something was wrong with, but I still decided to take it. I did not know why. In some campaigns, our company loses the money instead of gaining the profit. After many “hard” experiences, I now make better decisions and believe our company has driven in the right direction.
Reading more about founder story Talk to amazing Trang – Founder and CEO of Enouvo
5. Well, we have talked a lot about your work & your career. Let’s switch to personal growth and interest. What were the key turning points that led you to study for a Master in Ireland? Can you share some of your key learning take-aways from this opportunity?
In Vietnamese, we call it Fate (or Duyên in Vietnamese). Before, I managed the company based mainly on my innateness. It led us to many crises. While talking with a close friend, I realized my need to overcome my glass ceiling of management skills.
Well, the learning opportunity with a full scholarship was very appealing. However, I was struggled with continuing to manage the company or studying for one year. For small and medium-sized companies like us, it depends vastly on directors regarding managing the company, the brand image, and the key salesperson driving projects and profits. But after contemplating both options, I realized that if I did not take this chance, sooner or later, the company would collapse due to my shortage of management. Therefore, I decided to take the one-year gap to pursue the Management Master Degree at Trinity Business School, ranked 1st in Ireland and among the top global universities.
I cannot be thankful enough for the opportunity and have tried to give back in many ways. It is one of the wisest decisions that I have ever made. It will take days and nights to share my learnings (laugh). If I have to choose one, it is confidence. Before that, I was busy working day and night. While in Ireland, I had a refreshing and reflecting year to fill in my skills and managing-related flaws.
Studying and living in a diverse environment and interacting with multicultural backgrounds, I honed my critical judgments and was eye-opening with the world. There would always be many options to choose from and learn. I also enriched my communication due to the need for convincing and debating to reach a consensus among different learning groups. In Vietnam, we usually consider age and levels when evaluating and making decisions. However, when we were in the same stages as the students, it required me to be logical and evidence-based at a higher level to convince others of my choices.
6. Can you share more about your projects & activities beside work?
What are your focuses for the new year?
In my application, I mentioned my contributing plans when I finished studying, and thus I continue to follow my commitments.
- Being a mentor of SME Mentoring Network: It is the organization to match mentees and mentors. I was a mentee here, and then I became a mentor. I have learned a lot from my mentors and my mentees.
- Teaching at the University of Science and Hoa Sen University: As my family has a strong legacy of teaching and my interests, I am teaching at the school for students in my programs when I studied at The University of Science.
- A member of the advisory board of the Friends of Ireland: As my blessing to Ireland, I have shared about Education in Ireland and joined Friends of Ireland. With my humble participation, I hope to inspire and expand the business spirits of Ireland to wider audiences.
My focus for this year toward the company is growing IMP to the top player in helping Ecommerce companies and B2B businesses maximize their profit by leveraging their existing customer base and traffic. The starting point is via email marketing. I assume that if the companies can use marketing appropriately, they can leverage their growth to the regional and global stages.
Another concentration is Writing a book as my commitment. The book is a sharing from me – an Agency leader about managing the company and maximizing the growth.
The last important thing is spending time with family and doing sports. I have married and re-organized my life. After 6 pm, I dedicate my time to my family. We have many common interests like running and exercising, going for dinner and meeting friends.
To achieve all those things, I have to say “No” with many other activities, like my podcast. Though I like doing podcasts, it takes quite some time for recording and editing.
7. What are your last words that you wanna share with our readers?
Everything happens quickly, and we do not know what will happen next. Things happen and will pass by very quickly, both good and bad. Do not take things too seriously. Enjoy the moment, and accept it. You should know what matters. Don’t be caught up in the emotions and led by ego. Don’t let win a battle and lose a war.
Simultaneously, keep learning and growing to be a better version of yourself.
Thank you a. Quân for a paramount of support for this interview despite your tight schedule. I wish all the best for your new year – new life and all your focus of this year soon can reach at the best stage.
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