Apply the supply chain management in production, bring PNJ jewelry product to become a national brand, Mrs. Cao Thi Ngoc Dung is revitalizing the company, preparing for the management transfer process.
Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, Chairwoman of Board of Directors and General Director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry JSC
On one fine day, the Chief of Planning department of Phu Nhuan Agriculture Food Company, Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, 31 years old at that time, was summoned to Phu Nhuan district (Ho Chi Minh City) leader room. “You were trained officially and have business potential”, the leader explained and appointed the young civil employee to take on new responsibilities. The Chairwoman of Phu Nhuan Jewelry JSC recalled she was shocked by the request of establishing and managing a gold jewelry store.
Being familiar with the middle management position in a company with a few hundred employees, she has to move to a total new industry. Even though being promoted to Director position, the amount of staff is very limited. After a deliberate consideration, the Bachelor of Economy specializing in foreign trade accepted the new challenge. She made a claim to choose her team and have full power in managing the business.
It was the story of 27 years ago. With the startup capital of VND14 million and nearly 20 employees, the store has come a long way to become a Corporation with close to 3,000 employees, and total assets close to VND1.3 trillion at the end of 2014.
At the age of 58, the captain of the PNJ ship still maintains her enthusiasm: “PNJ followed a private model but was tightly control as a State model. The management system with “two schools of thoughts”, if still maintain, will only hinder the growth. PNJ decided to change for a better goods, and approach to the world business.”
PNJ is a nationally recognized brand in jewelry. The company holds the top position in the jewelry industry in Vietnam (in. Besides manufacturing, trading, retail jewelry products, PNJ also trade gold bar, provide an expert service on inspection, grading gold, precious stone, and jewelry.
In 2012, PNJ opened its new factory in Go Vap (Ho Chi Minh City) and has since improved its production capability to four million products per year, eight times higher than the next direct competitor. During this period, PNJ was also ranked 16th of the world’s 500 largest jewelry corporations by Plimsoll (England) organization. PNJ reached 180 retail stores by the end of 2014. In average, one out of four jewelry stores carry PNJ products among 12,000 jewelry stores in Vietnam.
In 2014, PNJ reached US$438 million in revenue, $12.2 million in profit after tax. PNJ has almost 800 jewelers, in which 160 are ranked at master level, accounted for approximately 70% of Vietnam’s master jewelry craftsmen, according to FPTS.
The PNJ Chairwoman shared that many jewelry production companies in the world rarely build their own distribution system in parallel with their production. Production company only focuses on a certain products while retailer would segment between middle and high class products, or choose between wholesale or retail model. “PNJ is among one of the few companies in the world which operate in all market segments. The reason PNJ is considered a giant in this industry because the industry tend to be private and family oriented,” Mrs. Dung stated that in 2011, when PNJ hired Value Partners Management Consulting to consult on its re-structure process, the Italian consulting company found a hard time to find another company with similar structure to compare with.
Investment Director of Mekong Capital, Mr. Pham Vu Thanh Giang, who also is the Board Member of PNJ remarked the Chairwoman Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, with Government background, who has spent most of her career with PNJ, is the person who would listen and adapt to change: “Many companies have spent money for restructuring consultant process but failed to execute it. PNJ’s Chairwoman really wanted to change and took action swiftly. She does not accept ‘good” but strives for ‘the best’.
PNJ was once a multi-industries corporation, with presence on many sectors from banking, food to energy and even real estate; however, PNJ is going through the most intensive restructuring period since the day of its creation. The most noticeable change at PNJ was its constant effort to renounce capital on under-developed sectors.
So ponder the question of what is the “new version” of PNJ? Mrs. Dung shares that PNJ has not yet built an effective management. With foreign partner consultation, PNJ has since standardized its system.. “The biggest mistake many companies made during restructuring process is the recognition. Changes need to spread from leaders to the employees’,” PNJ Chairwoman shared that directors were demoted to manager, managers become supervisors, and supervisors become staff during the process; however, “Only one person from the middle management left the company”, she said.
Mrs. Dung was born in 1957 in the family with 9 siblings from Quang Ngai province. In 1983, after graduated from University of Economics of HCMC, she worked in a few Government sectors before working for Phu Nhuan Food Agriculture Corporation. The task to create a gold jewelry store was really a large turning point in her life.
Belong to the first generations of businesswoman together with the track records of building and leading a state-owned company, PNJ Chairwoman is among one of the 10 “Most successful businesswoman” on Forbes Vietnam magazine (June 2013 edition).