MF: understand you're from Vietnam, went to school in Singapore, attended MIT in the US and ended up in London. That's a lot of travel! Can you tell us a bit about your background?
TVT: You’ve got a good memory Michael! I was born in Montreal, but at the age of 3 moved to Singapore where I was raised until I went to MIT near Boston, Massachusetts. But indeed I’m from Vietnam by virtue of my parents, my first language, and the heritage I was brought up with.
So when someone asks me where I’m from, I do often have to ask first - do they mean where I was born, or where I live now, or where I was raised, or what ethnicity? I still by second-nature consider Singapore home, but I guess I should really start reconsidering that as I’m now approaching 15 years here in London (where I moved from New York post college).
MF: You originally had very challenging jobs in the U.S. and the UK. Please tell us what you that.
TVT: My job in private equity brought me here from New York, where I was part of the investment team executing leveraged buy-outs and venture capital investments for Goldman Sachs. It was a phenomenal learning experience, but I found myself wanting to be more like the entrepreneurs and CEOs that I’d regularly meet then my senior-most colleagues.
I therefore left finance and after a break traveling throughout Europe (during which I also met my wife Joanna – who I know loves me for who I am as I was effectively a bum at the time!)… switched careers to the most bricks & mortar of industries possible.