Three RMIT Vietnam alumni are brewing up promising careers in the country’s booming coffee industry.
Tran Dan Khanh, Nguyen Dang Khoa and Hoang Tuan Anh all have one thing in common – a successful career within one of Vietnam’s largest agricultural industries.
In roles across retail, recruitment and trading, the trio share their passion for building a career in coffee.
Independent coffee retailer
It was a visit to Melbourne that first attracted Shelter Coffee and Tea owner Tran Dan Khanh to the exquisite art of Italian-brewed coffee.
Immersing himself in the Melburnian café culture, the Diploma of Commerce alumnus returned to Vietnam in 2011, passionate about making coffee a career opportunity.
He initially developed his knowledge and experience through running a business by franchising an Urban Station coffee store.
A year later Tran felt confident to open Shelter Coffee and Tea in Ho Chi Minh City, an ideal location for morning city workers and young people in the evenings.
“Looking back, it was such a learning experience setting up the business, working with suppliers and getting the perfect cup of coffee to suit my customer’s tastes,” he said.
“I’m constantly learning and improving, which is the nature of running your own business.”
From cars to coffee
Dang Khoa Nguyen spent six months after graduating from RMIT Vietnam thinking about what he would do for his career.
Deciding on a role in human resources, the Bachelor of Commerce alumnus started his career with Mercedes Benz.
He made the switch from cars to coffee when he saw an opportunity with the Trung Nguyen Group.
As Recruitment Executive, he now works in a role that covers the 80 Trung Nguyen Coffee outlets in Vietnam.
“We also have four outlets in Singapore and we’re working with partners in Dubai to open the first Trung Nguyen Coffee in the Middle East.”
Nguyen says he particularly enjoys overseeing Trung Nguyen’s labour force, which presents both challenges and opportunities.
Green bean trader
Senior Trader Tuan Anh Hoang used to work at trading and investment group Marubeni and has been trading green coffee beans for around four years.
He moved to Group Sopex Vietnam and has worked as supply chain coordinator since December 2014.
The Bachelor of Business (Economics and Finance) graduate explains how Vietnam has two main coffee varieties – Robusta and Arabica.
“Arabica contains less caffeine and has a better aroma compared with Robusta, with size or colour being used to distinguish the two,” he said.
“To trade green beans internationally, we need to overcome many obstacles such as shipping schedules, quality and processing control as well as risk management in price fluctuation.
“Everything must be in line with the schedule of the customers to deliver the goods in the right time at the right place all over the world.”
In Hoang’s opinion, although Vietnam can be considered as the biggest exporter together with Brazil, Vietnamese exporters still have a way to go to improve quality and procedure.
“It’s one of the most competitive markets in the world and we need to adapt to survive.”