While he’s only been CEO of KDI Holdings for a year, Do Tuan Anh has been following the company since its inception a decade ago and his relationship with the company’s Chair goes back more than 25 years. “In fact, I partly helped with finance for projects when I was still in the banking industry,” he shares.
“The position is new, but it’s not new to me, as I’ve been following this business for several years already.” With more than two decades in the banking industry, Do Tuan Anh was ready for a change, both personally and professionally. Approaching 50, he believed it would be the last big career change he’d make, and a combination of his relationship with the Chair and his trust in the company made it the right move.
“The company has been transforming from merely a financial investor into a manufacturing and production investor,” he explains. “It needs someone who can not only make decisions on financial investment but also someone who can optimise its operations and grow the business.”
The biggest change Do Tuan Anh has introduced in his short time with KDI Holdings is looking at investments with a longer and broader view. In many respects, it’s a paradigm shift in the way investment companies work. The Vega City Nha Trang integrated resort complex is one such example and, although in its early stages, it has a lot of potential for the future.
“We need to build a platform to realise these opportunities,” he says. “Upon completion of this investment and building project, we hope to use the momentum of that success to open up to further opportunities.”
KDI Holdings has great ambitions and creativity to forge its own path while prioritising sustainability at every stage of project development.
Building talent & win–win partnerships
Do Tuan Anh has also been examining the culture within KDI Holdings, with a view to upskilling staff so that he no longer needs to extensively recruit externally. “I am working on a strong company culture, which will serve as the basis for company strategy,” he shares. “Any strategy has to rely on not just the corporate culture, but also on the people itself.
“And with the scale of the business – it’s expanding so fast; we always need more talent – it’s key to operations. However, the trick is, you can’t buy in talent all the time as you dilute the culture of the company. So we’ve had to spend appropriate time on growing internal skills.”
What I’m trying to do is secure the sustainability of the company.
With the culture heading in a direction that Do Tuan Anh is happy with, his next few years will take in three distinct parts: working with partners, balancing the mix of the company’s investment portfolio, and making the right future investments.
“What I’m trying to do is secure the sustainability of the company, and number one is to be customer-centric. By that I also mean partners, anyone who works with us employees,” he explains.
“We also need to have a more balanced portfolio. We’re big in real estate development, but we also have high-tech agriculture productions, education luxury interiors and entertainment.” According to Do Tuan Anh, value is also important to KDI Holdings when it comes to partner relationships.
“We try to build a value chain partnership,” he explains. “We invest in those who we know will be within the value chain of our real estate development projects: the financier’s company, the construction company, the property sales company – almost like the ecosystem of the real estate industry. We also aim to build long-term relationships with strong suppliers and contractors.
“Finally, we also need strategies for selecting the right investments. For real estate projects, that means very good locations and high-demand markets for tourists. Vietnam has a very strong potential for promoting tourists, so we try to select growing locations like Nha Trang, Quang Ninh, Phu Quoc besides Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.
Vega City Nha Trang is a model project and a springboard for the company to fulfil ambition to elevate the tourism industry in Vietnam, attracting more tourists and making them stay longer with classy and unique experiences.”
World-class with a community focus
Like many CEOs today, the environment and community needs are not lost on Do Tuan Anh, when it comes to growing the business. “In developing a project, we look very closely at the communities’ values, including environmental and cultural aspects, in terms of preservation,” he reveals.
“The sustainable value of Vega City Nha Trang is most clearly showcased in the tightly controlled construction density to protect its surrounding environment. That’s not just to follow the rules or regulations; it’s something we strongly support. We’re also looking at where we can bring about community value – any historical or cultural value that we can bring to the local community, tourists or any end users of the projects.”
Unlike many other project owners in Vietnam, the company chose to partner with big international contractors such as Hyundai Engineering & Construction (HDEC) and world-leading brands in the hospitality industry such as Accor Group, Meliá Hotels International and Rosewood Hotel Group for managing and operating luxury villas and five-star hotels in its debut real estate.
It can cost more, but it ensures the quality of the unique project. Despite being a relatively new player, the reputation of Do Tuan Anh and his Chair has helped get these suppliers over the line. “Dealing with external giants like HDEC can be expensive, and they can also be demanding,” he admits, which makes his desire to build internal talent even more relevant.
“This is why we need to build that internal capability. So that in time, you are equal in playing that game. No-one can do everything on their own, especially when you want to do great things.”
When Do Tuan Anh moved to KDI Holdings, it was very much banking’s loss and investment’s gain. And despite being a high-pressure environment, he is determined to do everything with integrity.
“Keep your reputation, your integrity in anything you do,” he advises. “These are things I really pursue: treat your customers like you’d treat yourself; treat partners like you’d treat yourself; treat employees like you’d treat yourself.”