Thi Minh Y Nguyen
Country of origin: Vietnam
Lecturer, Temasek Polytechnic (Singapore)
Thi Minh Y Nguyen (known as Y) had spent several years in brand management for Unilever Vietnam before joining the full-time MBA.
For her summer project, Y chose to work for the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust, a large NHS Trust which employs around 6,000 people and provides hospital services across North Lancashire and South Cumbria. As the Trust was applying for Foundation status, it needed to move to a more business-focused operating model. The project focus was to develop a clear marketing strategy and related marketing plan which could be implemented from Autumn 2008.
“This project was basically my dream project. It provided a fantastic opportunity for me to learn about a stream of marketing, ie the public sector and health care, which I’d never worked in before. My own marketing background is in consumer goods, but I’m finding myself more and more inspired if what I’m doing is at the same time helping other people. That’s why I hope to make a career shift into the healthcare industry.
“My main research included interviews with patients, nurses, GPs and doctors, and also with the hospital management, to learn more about how they understood the needs of patients. What I discovered about the real needs of patients through talking with patients themselves I could then build into the Trust’s marketing strategy.
“The NHS structure is quite complicated, so there was a lot for me to learn initially about how it worked. That made the project really challenging but at the same time very enjoyable.
“Looking back, I can see that throughout our MBA we’d been trained to deal with the ‘messiness’ of the business world, so that now whenever you’re faced with things that are unclear or challenging, it makes you all the more determined to get to the root of things and really deliver.
“I was also able to draw on some of the skills from my consumer goods marketing experience – for example, skills in observing and interpreting not just what people say, but also looking at what’s implicit in their tone of voice, their gestures and so on. It proved to be extremely useful here in understanding more about patients.
“The process of analysing the data was what I enjoyed most. It’s a long, winding process, it’s frustrating and challenging but it stimulates you to learn more – it’s like a maze of information that you have to work through, to get to deeper levels of emotions and feelings. I have also to mention my supervisor here – I learnt a huge amount from her coaching skills as I went through the ups and downs of the project.
“It was a great experience. Overall I think the MBA has improved my communication skills, made me more tolerant of cultural differences, and able to work better in teams. You get to know more about the world and you also change the way you look at the world.”
After completing her MBA degree, Y returned to Unilever, working for several years as a regional brand manager for Unilever Asia Ltd. More recently, however, she moved into a new role as a lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore.