Mai Lan Vân
MAI LAN VAN
Founder and Chief Financial Officer
V.E.O – Volunteer for education
Beautiful, dynamic, and creative, Mai Lan Van was once known as a talented young face in Forbes Vietnam’s “30 Under 30”. Graduated from the City, University of London (UK) with a major in International Business, she founded V.E.O, a non-governmental organization aimed at connecting tourism with educational volunteer activities in 2014. Over the years, she has attracted the participation and support of many young tourists and contributed to improving the educational conditions of children in highland rural areas, through many volunteer activities such as teaching English, teaching life skills, building libraries… Besides, she is also a member of many volunteer organizations such as Vinspired UK and Com 5,000 Hanoi.
I like things that are warm, delicate, and I love Vietnamese culture
Graduated with a Master degree in London, UK, and became a founding member of One Mount Group (part of VinGroup cooperation) as well as Up Co-working Space, Silky Vietnam, social enterprise V.E.O, and now working as the Marketing manager for VinID; Mai Lan Van confessed that she has never been very good at balancing life, but she is passionate about her job, loves Vietnamese culture, and is “addicted” to “made-in Vietnam” products.
In the series finale of “The Empowered Women”, Hanoia invites its viewers to get to know a young businesswoman – Ms. Mai Lan Van, who was once known as one of 30 influential, talented faces under 30 years old as voted by Forbes Vietnam.
1. As an entrepreneur active in community service, at the same time dedicated to VinID and One Mount Group, what are your views towards your big family, small family, and do these relationships conflict or add to each other? How do you balance all these relationships harmoniously?
To me, big families include relationships outside in society, whilst small families are relationships personal to me.
In modern society, especially in Vietnam, networking is an extremely important factor. As a businessperson, nobody can deny the fact that good networking will support work in many ways. Of course, it also requires sacrifices, in order to expand your network, you have to spend a lot of time socializing, meeting people, building a relationship and in general this will take up a lot of your time.
We only have 24 hours in a day and 7 days a week, so how to balance that time between family and social relationships? The conflict between these relationships depends on how you manage your time and at different stages of your life you will have to decide which relationship is more important.
Using myself as an example – this year I’m 29 years old, the first time being a mother and still struggling, but I know that I need to spend a lot of time for the baby. At the same time, this is a stage that requires me to try harder, learn more, socialize, and expand my relationships to learn and develop myself.
Truth be told, I’m not someone who is good at balancing time, and I’m messy too, but luckily my family is very supportive. The key is to have a designated time to think through and arrange my schedule in a way that is suitable.
Small family has a huge impact to big family. Since becoming a mother, I understand the hopes and needs of people who have a family, so I can easily empathize and share with my colleagues who also have children about the hardships at work. In contrast, when I have a lot of relationships in society, I get to meet and learn from successful people about how they balance their life, think more positively, and how to live more happily in a family of one’s own.
With anyone, keeping balance between your small, personal family and big, societal family is not something easy. I would never admit that I’ve done a great job, but I always try and put in effort to achieve that balance every day.
❝ Balancing the three vertices of “family – career – health” is still a challenge for me.
❝ With my own living space, I like the feeling of warmth, softness, and simplicity.
2. Busy as such, do you have time for your personal hobbies?
Of course, but my hobbies change according to my life. In the past I’ve loved to sing and paint, now if I have time, I will do yoga, cuddle with my family to watch TV, take interesting online lessons or eat my favorite foods – maybe because I have a family now, my hobbies are as simple as that.
My schedule for 5 years now has always been to wake up at 5:30 in the morning, practicing yoga every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, practicing golfing or workout on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; come to work at 9 AM and end my shift at about 7-8 PM; then coming home, my husband and I spend time with the baby until 11 PM; when the baby is asleep, if I still have work then I will work on my laptop until 1-2 AM. On Sundays, I especially spend all my time with family. For me, family and work are fun and motivating, making life more meaningful when dedicating and being with my loved ones. However, now that I’m nearly 30 years old, this intensity also affects my health, which is also one of the reasons I have to maintain yoga regularly. Balancing the three vertices of “family – career – health” is still a challenge for me.
3. What about home decoration? How do you want a private living space to be?
From a young age, I had dreamt of following the architecture and interior decoration industry. But following my family’s advice, I learned economics and finance, and life pushed me to marketing for 5 years. Now, if I want to change and start from scratch, I am no longer patient enough, but I’m satisfied with my present.
With my own living space, I like the feeling of warmth, softness, and simplicity. I used to study in London for a while, so I was extremely interested in British architecture. Indoor facilities should be modern, using smart technology, but the interior design should be a bit “rustic” with many books, wood and warm brick colors in European style.
4. What is your criteria for choosing furniture? Are you afraid to try new materials? What are you most concerned with about price and function?
The first criterion is consistency. If you have followed a style, you should stick with that style from start to finish. Of course, I also love beauty and I’m fascinated by beautiful objects; sometimes something is so seductive that I’m forced to take out my wallet. However, some beauties are just in features or ways to break a style, but they don’t cohere with the overall aesthetic.
I’m not afraid to try new materials, especially when it suits the style that I choose. At my age, the price is of course a consideration, but I’m still willing to pay a premium price if the item is worthy and timeless.
5. What do you think about lacquer material? What do you think about products made in Vietnam? What are some ways to promote these traditional values?
My first impression on lacquer is Warm and Luxurious, which adds value to the house. Like Hanoia lacquer products, prices are not cheap, but they offer warmth and elegance. Those who understand these values will not regret the money to buy it for their house, or gift to their relatives or partners. My company often order Hanoia as gifts to partners because we believe that my partners will cherish the warmth and elegance of lacquerware, like how I cherish them.
I am someone who love Vietnamese culture and I’m addicted to products made-in Vietnam. That is the reason I returned to Vietnam after many years of studying and working abroad, the reason I joined a Vietnamese company instead of a foreign company, the reason I founded V.E.O to connect tourism to education for upland children based on volunteer work. Despite my travels to many countries and cultures, I’ve always been proud of being Vietnamese.
I believe that many people are wondering how to promote the traditional values of Vietnamese culture. As for me, these values lie in every Vietnamese person. Whatever you do, you must do your best, be mindful, share your passions and inspire people in a positive direction. While in the UK, as the student union president, I have always thought about how to bring the beauty of Vietnamese culture to international friends. Looking back at the programs I took in the UK during that time, each year there are 6-7 events honoring Vietnamese áo dài, traditional dishes and dances. Later, when founding startups and working in large corporations, I also tried to spread the love of Vietnamese culture among young people through community activities in which I was involved with and connected to.
❝ Despite my travels to many countries and cultures, I’ve always been proud of being Vietnamese.