After graduating from University in Singapore, Ms. Anlee Do started her career in the aviation sector at Lufthansa Group. During more than 12 years working in Lufthansa, she has lived and worked in 4 different countries and held many important positions in Sales & Marketing. Currently, she is Country Manager Vietnam of Lufthansa Group and Vice Chairwoman at German Business Association.
Destination Review had the opportunity to listen to her sharing about her journey of changes and personal development during 12 years working in the aviation sector.
CAN YOU SHARE ABOUT YOUR BEGINNING AND YOUR JOURNEY WITH THE AVIATION SECTOR SO FAR?
Actually, my major in university was Marketing in Singapore because I like writing and research. After I finished university, I still remember clearly, Lufthansa was the ninth company I interviewed in Singapore. I was admitted to Lufthansa’s International Airline Professional (IAP) program, which is similar to Management Trainee program, and sent to Germany to study for 2 years. During my time in Germany, I learned a lot about aviation and that was my first step into the sector.
After completing the IAP program in Germany, those who joined the program were transferred to different countries for work. I was transferred to Bangkok and in charge of regional Marketing. This was when I did the right job with my major. I had worked in Bangkok for nearly 5 years, then I moved to Singapore to work on e-commerce. My job in Singapore involved data analysis and research, which are also my favorites. I stayed in Singapore for 4 years before returning to Vietnam and hold the current position of Country Manager Vietnam. Up to now, I have been with the aviation sector as well as Lufthansa for more than 12 years.
Before that, the aviation sector was never on the list of the industries that I wanted to try, but when the opportunity with Lufthansa opened up, I wondered “Why not?”. And unexpectedly then, my journey opened in a very different direction. Although I work in the aviation sector, I still write by telling inspirational stories about Lufthansa when in charge of Marketing and do research when working on e-commerce.
CAN YOU SHARE SOME MILESTONES IN YOUR CAREER JOURNEY AS WELL AS HOW YOU CHANGE YOURSELF AFTER EACH MILESTONE?
It can be said that the major milestones in my career are when I moved to different countries to hold new positions. When I first entered Lufthansa, I was sent to Germany for two years. During that time, I not only learned about aviation but also learned how to live, think and work like a German. Gradually, my working style is similar to German’s, which is very careful, disciplined and a bit rigid sometimes.
To the second milestone that I moved to Thailand, the working style is completely different. Thailand is a very vibrant and colorful country and that shapes the way Thai people think and work. They work in a very relaxed and comfortable spirit, not too disciplined. There were some problems that could put me under pressure, but my Thai colleagues have a completely different perspective on the problems. Thanks to that spirit of my colleagues in Thailand, I gradually learned how to relax and be more comfortable and also learn how to work in a different culture. In the beginning, I used to feel unsuitable for working in Thailand and thought that I might only stay there for about a year, but unexpectedly, I ended up with Thailand for almost 5 years and really love this country.
The third milestone is when I moved to Singapore. Although I used to study in Singapore before, the experience of studying and working was very different. During the first few months in Singapore, I was used to the working style in Thailand, so every day I stayed in the office very late because I could not handle the tasks on time. Everyone in the Singapore office works very quickly and professionally. They handle tasks very well and the competitive spirit is high. I also had to gradually learn how to adapt to the new working culture and eventually I had been with Singapore for 4 years.
Returning to Vietnam is the fourth milestone and I also learned a lot of new things. Until now, when doing Marketing or research, I have only met my colleagues, my bosses and acquaintances of Lufthansa Group. But when I return to Vietnam and take responsibility for Sales, I have to face customers. My work experience in Vietnam helps me to improve the way I communicate with customers and I become more active. Another reason why I like my current life in Vietnam is that it has been a long time since I left Vietnam for studying, so when I came back, I was very surprised and interested in the way that life in Vietnam has changed. My motivation in the current job is to learn how to do Sales well and experience life as a real Vietnamese.
WHAT HELPED YOU TO GET THROUGH THE DIFFICULT INITIAL PERIOD WHEN CHANGING JOBS AND COUNTRIES?
With me, my teams and colleagues were the driving force to help me overcome the initial difficulties. Because I am a foreigner, my colleagues in Lufthansa are very friendly and always willing to help me. When moving to a new country, there will be two major aspects that I have to balance: personal and professional lives. What makes it easy for me to balance is that wherever I move to, I know that the company is still Lufthansa, still the people with such personalities, very kind bosses and friendly colleagues. That is what makes me feel reassuring and then I try to balance the other aspects of my personal life.
One thing I learned from my journey is that the more I experience, the more I don’t expect too much. When I move to a new place, if things do not go well as expected, I would be disappointed. I used to think that I could only stay in Thailand for a year, but then I have been with it for almost 5 years. I was very stressed in Singapore at first, but then everything was fine and I also stayed in Singapore for 4 years. When I returned to Vietnam, I did not expect anything but I am very happy with experiences in Vietnam. Hence, everything will be fine in some ways. When I do not set much of an expectation, things will surprise me in a different way.
YOU HAVE BEEN WITH LUFTHANSA FOR MORE THAN 12 YEARS, HAVE YOU EVER FELT “BORED”?
Actually, I am a person who gets bored easily when doing something for too long. But in Lufthansa, the group is willing to give many opportunities to their employees. Especially, foreigners still have opportunities to reach high level positions. For example, I studied and worked in Marketing, but when I switched to work on e-commerce in Singapore, my boss still gave me the opportunity to undertake that job. When I returned to Vietnam, I did not have much experience in Sales. But when I proved my ability through exams and interviews, people trusted me and gave me the opportunity. And when I get the opportunity, I endeavor to learn and prove that I deserve it.
When I had worked for nearly 10 years and was quite familiar with the job in Singapore, I decided to take an Executive MBA, because I wanted to improve my knowledge and skills. While doing many joint projects with classmates from other industries, I had a chance to see the world outside of Lufthansa.
Thereby, I also looked back on my journey with Lufthansa and realized that over the past 10 years, I have learned a lot, I have really kind bosses and colleagues and I feel happy with those things. So, in the end, I still chose to stay with Lufthansa and took up the new position in Vietnam.
LOOKING BACK ON YOUR JOURNEY, WHAT HAS CHANGED IN YOUR OUTLOOK ON WORK AND SELF-AWARENESS?
Firstly, if I look back from the time I started university in Singapore, I see that I have changed a lot. From an introvert and not having many friends, now people call me a “social butterfly”. I realize that I am an introvert but can still be an extrovert when needed. That is a huge change. This journey helps me realize many things about myself and I can be different from the version of myself that I used to know.
Secondly, I think it is not necessary to follow a certain industry. With the skills accumulated, one person can do a lot of things. The matter is whether I want to do it or not and what my goal is.
Thirdly, I learned that money is not everything to me. The aviation sector is not a well-paying industry. When I am in a position that is stable in the finance aspect, I focus on new things I learn every day at work, the emotional aspects with my teams and the brand to stick with for the long term.
FROM YOUR JOURNEY, CAN YOU GIVE SOME ADVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE?
In my opinion, not only in the aviation sector but in any sector, the most important thing is to be willing to try different fields to know what you really like. If you do not try it, there will be some moments when we regret that “if only…”.
In addition, my personal experience when working is to proactively listen to feedback from people, not only from bosses but also from colleagues. For me, feedback is very important. My colleague’s feedback is very honest and straightforward but I am grateful for that because that is what I need to know to help me become better.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR INTERESTING SHARINGS TODAY!