As a part of our interview series called “Women Of The C-Suite,” we had the pleasure of interviewing Giang “Thi Thi” Hoang.
Thi Thi learned many lessons throughout her life and career — from growing up with limited resources in Vietnam and earning a scholarship to attend a prestigious high school, to working at a leading export and import bank in Vietnam, she is excited to lead the team at Bizconnect with the same grit and passion that have helped her carve her own path. She started Bizconnect in 2020 with a mission to help small and medium businesses benefit from the global economy the same way she did and built a team of experts in Vietnam and the U.S. who have helped me partner with leading data, sales, and marketing companies around the world, including Dun & Bradstreet/Hoovers.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Hi, I am Thi Thi, a 43 year old woman from Vietnam. I graduated from the University of Social Science and the University of Economics with a degree in Marketing and Social Media. This career path allowed me to be active and social in the business community.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Bizconnect, a B2B search engine and fair advertising platform, is a very new company, we officially launched on June 1. Although there hasn’t necessarily been anything super interesting, every day is a learning experience!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I can not think of any funny mistakes… mistakes are always made because this is a learning experience!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The person I am most grateful toward and has been the biggest help in getting me to where I currently am would have to be my husband. He is the smartest guy I have ever met and always helps me solve any issues I come across when I need him to.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
In order to prepare my mind and body for a stressful day or event I always give myself a pep talk and constantly remind myself that at the end of the day nothing matters and I will be okay, everything will be okay and nothing is impossible.
As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
Having a diverse executive team is very important. This allows the team to be stronger by having various types of knowledge, opinions and experiences.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.
My policy is to believe in diversity and I welcome the unique perspectives of people from different cultures and believe that leads to a more well rounded company. As an immigrant to the U.S, myself, I appreciate people from all walks of life and regions in the world.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
The CEO is in charge of the vision and direction of the company as well as building a team of A-players in all categories while building the culture within the company.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?
Some people think that it’s an enviable position to be the leader but in reality the leader has everything on their shoulders and part of being the leader is to deal with any problems that occur at any time, day or night, seven days a week.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
As a mom, the biggest challenge faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by males is the equalness of running a business and being an active parent. I try my best to make time to do things as simple as making food and spending time with my son, and that is something that men aren’t always expected to do when they are running a business.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
I thought that the job would be more proactive where I am able to control my schedule and workflow, but in reality as the CEO part of the day is always reacting to what needs my decision and approval.
Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
In order to be a successful executive you have to be able to execute a vision and idea and build the best team you can. For example, if you are the CEO of a sports team, you have to have the best coaches and best players.
What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?
Always look for the best in people and keep a culture that is very honest, respectful and kind. Allow people to make mistakes and learn from them.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Previously I used my connections in Vietnam to help bring over 16 million masks and gaiters to the United States during the pandemic when it was almost impossible for people to find them. As for Bizconnect, I hope it will help all small and medium businesses succeed and find the connections they need in order to grow.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
The 5 things would be:
- Have a very good attorney review your agreements. On a couple of occasions I have ended up in long term contracts I thought I would be able to modify if things didn’t work out but that was not the case. In every agreement you enter into, think about the divorce before signing. What is the exit strategy where both sides are okay? Many examples where it wasn’t clear what happens when things don’t work out led me to overpaying in order to get out of contracts.
- There are no guarantees with advertising and marketing, see if you can test first.
- In a startup environment there is a lot of trial and error and I have learned the hard way to negotiate and exit if things are working out through the trial phase.
- When hiring people make sure to take the time to check their references and see what other people say about how they fit into a corporate culture and the culture I have built with my team. Unfortunately, I have had some examples where I have not followed this advice and had I simply checked references, I would have saved myself some grief.
- Don’t listen to what people say, listen to what they do. A lot of people look good on paper, so wait to see how well they do, because actions always speak louder than words.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
My business mission is to have a favorable economic impact on people and businesses all over the world by helping them to enter the global economic market and benefit those working for them. Personally, I plan to set up a foundation to help children and less fortunate, those with the basic needs. In my country I have seen people go hungry on a regular basis. With the economic wealth that we have in this world, it does not make sense to me how we have children still going hungry and I plan to do everything I can to help.
I grew up in post-war Southern Vietnam where I had to stand in line to receive a bag of rice, fish sauce, and sugar which is what we lived on for months.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Think fast and talk slow.” This quote was relevant throughout my life because I never want to make decisions when I am tired or angry.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
I would love to have lunch with Messi, the Barcelona soccer player. I love soccer and admire how well of a player and person he is.