Individuals embark on their career journeys at unique paces, with some racing ahead at full throttle while others take measured steps. For businesswoman Truong Ly Hoang Phi the speed of progress matters less than the underlying purpose – whether sprinting or strolling, the key is elevating one’s career to new heights.

Four years ago, Businesswomen Magazine interviewed Trương Lý Hoàng Phi as she devoted herself to guiding the younger generation of Vietnamese start-ups. Now, in the midst of the post-pandemic economic challenges, we reconnect with this passionate businesswoman to gain insights into navigating these treacherous times. Throughout our conversation, she exuded composure, reflection, and understanding, offering perspectives on the promising trajectory of her career in innovation and sharing insights drawn from her experiences as a businesswoman.

phong van nu doanh nhan Truong Ly Hoang Phi



As we revisit your journey since your last feature in BusinessWoman Magazine four years ago, could you highlight the milestones you’ve achieved on your career path?

Certainly, there have been notable milestones. I assumed the role of CEO at Vintech City, a VinGroup member, which aimed to establish an innovation ecosystem. By the close of 2020, I ventured out, leaving Vintech City to establish my own company, IBP – Investment & Business Partner. This move underscores my ongoing commitment to advancing my career in innovation. IBP’s mission extends beyond catering to start-ups and tech firms; it encompasses investment consultancy and support for major corporations, guiding them in designing and implementing innovative strategies. This includes aiding the transformation from old business models to new ones and securing resources to fuel such transformative processes. IBP is presently focused on two key sectors: directing external resources into a company for innovation and collaborating with them to redefine their vision and development path.

Have your achievements lived up to your expectations?

I tend to set the bar quite high for myself. Looking back, I find satisfaction in how I’ve adapted to changing circumstances, yet I can’t help but feel a tinge of disappointment at the slow progress in the grand scheme of things. At times, I question whether I’m moving too slowly and contemplate ways to accelerate. However, I’ve come to realize there’s a purpose behind this perceived slowness. Like a well-trained athlete, it’s crucial not only to sprint at full speed but also to ease up during transitions between tracks, allowing for momentum adjustments. Most of my ‘not fast enough’ periods occurred during the preparatory stages before bursting ahead. Slowing down is vital, preventing the risk of going off track due to sudden lane changes.

Phong van nu doanh nhan Truong Ly Hoang Phi

“In business, the most precious relationships are built for the sake of genuine connection, not driven by social status or money. Superficial glory is fleeting – a mere passing moment in existence, unworthy of measuring people’s true worth.”

In the pursuit of making a name for oneself, how can one cultivate aspiration rather than ambition, which implies ‘greed’?

It’s often said that one’s inner thoughts manifest in their actions. While both ‘aspiration’ and ‘ambition’ represent burning desires, the former is generally seen as positive, and the latter, in my view, requires a more nuanced interpretation. Ambitions matter in terms of where one’s ‘greed’ leads and how. If the ‘greed’ is for contributing to societal betterment, it remains positive as long as the pursuit aligns with a clear goal and respects defined boundaries.

The distinction between aspiration and ambition lies in whether the end justifies the means. Everyone entering a race aims to be the winner; some achieve this through effort and abilities, while others resort to less appropriate methods. Achieving a goal with utter disregard for consequences manifests the nature of greed. It’s a delicate line, and whether one chooses to cross it depends on sheer will and determination.

If you are being completely honest, what does YOU see as the losses of a businesswoman when stepping into this field, besides the usual gains that this position entails?

Beyond the typical gains associated with being a businesswoman, there are certain losses that one may encounter in this field. It’s important to note that these are personal observations and not intended as generalizations.

Firstly, from my perspective, one of the initial things a woman might ‘lose’ when entering the business world is perhaps the emphasis on traditional notions of beauty (laughs). It’s not a matter of neglecting appearance, but the demands and constant pressures of the business world often necessitate considerable effort and focus, leaving little time for maintaining conventional standards of beauty. Additionally, the responsibilities tied to family and children further contribute to stress, further limiting the time women have for self-care.

The second ‘loss,’ inherent in the nature of business, is a sense of solitude, especially when occupying a decision-making role. Despite having numerous people or colleagues around, there are certain aspects of decisions that they might not fully comprehend, or that the businesswoman may find challenging to share. This can lead businesswomen to feel as though they’re walking a lonely path that not everyone can understand. However, there is a silver lining to this solitude, as it can foster uniqueness and originality.

The last point, which I prefer to consider as a challenge rather than an outright loss, is the difficulty in achieving a balance between work and personal life. Some successful businesswomen may find it challenging to fulfill their family duties, as the independence and audacity essential for entrepreneurship can inadvertently impact the emotions and attitudes of their loved ones.”

The contemporary portrayal of women has undergone a positive transformation compared to that of earlier times. What, in your opinion, are the essential factors for young women to achieve greater success in today’s society?

Today’s generation enjoys increased freedom to express individuality, particularly evident in the enhanced training and education provided to young women across diverse disciplines. Breaking into once male-dominated areas, women now experience a more balanced choice of careers where confidence and professional capacity take precedence over gender.

Many obstacles hindering women from recognizing their own worth and pursuing dreams have been dismantled. Social prejudices against women have diminished, and the list of societal expectations has notably shortened. Society is becoming more inclusive, and the conventional stereotypes of success are losing their grip. This societal shift allows women to lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

However, despite these advancements, some judgmental opinions persist regarding a woman’s success. Questions like “does she have support from someone?” often arise when observing successful women, a scrutiny less frequently applied to their male counterparts. Unfortunately, a woman’s competence, knowledge, talent, or efforts are sometimes overlooked in acknowledging her success. This injustice still exists, prompting young women to remain vigilant, particularly in choosing challenging career paths where discretion may be crucial.



The innovation industry and start-up sector thrive on rapid and disruptive changes, as previously discussed. However, is there a need for them to occasionally slow down?

Drawing from philosophical wisdom that gradual changes in quantity lead to a shift in quality, it becomes apparent that the constant pursuit of innovation requires intermittent pauses.

In the realm of start-ups, the initial focus must always be on innovative thinking—it’s an imperative. However, the efficacy of a start-up doesn’t solely hinge on making changes at a miraculous speed. Rapid innovation is akin to a double-edged sword; steering it in the right direction yields breakthroughs, but veering off course can result in fragmentation.

Phong van nu doanh nhan Truong Ly Hoang Phi

“Businesswomen may often feel they’re navigating a lonely path that not everyone understands. Yet, within solitude lies an upside, fostering uniqueness and originality.”

Commencing a business journey is akin to running a marathon. It begins with deliberate and steady steps, allowing for the gradual buildup of momentum. When the timing aligns, the sprint towards the finish line becomes strategic. Alternatively, in aviation terms, a plane necessitates a lengthy runway to gather enough speed for a successful takeoff, eventually soaring high in the sky. This method encapsulates my approach to business—careful initial steps enable a company to select the right path, formulate a comprehensive plan, and with the accumulation of resources and momentum: take off.

As a senior consultant in the startup community, how does you feel about the entrepreneurial spirit in the years after the pandemic? Is it still boiling with passion as before?

A passionate spirit is the essence of any start-up. If the spirit dies, the start-up dies with it, simple as that.

That being said, the outbreak and its economic repercussions have prompted a recalibration in the startup ecosystem. Investment funds, once flush with abundant and inexpensive capital, have become more discerning in their choices for investment. The market’s rapid evolution has steered their focus towards medium and short-term returns, contrasting with the previously prevalent emphasis on long-term gains. Consequently, the startup community has increasingly embraced sustainability as a strategic imperative, recognizing it as a means to weather the unpredictable fluctuations of the economy.

I believe this transition poses both challenges and opportunities. In times of economic upswing, opportunities abound for businesses of all sizes. However, during downturns, only those with robust provisions and capabilities can navigate the challenging waters of the global economy. Start-ups are now scrutinized based on tangible indicators of sustainability and growth potential rather than relying on vague promises of distant future success. These “reality tests” serve as a pragmatic measure of a business’s resilience against the current circumstances’ inevitable impacts.

Passion and conviction are crucial for any start-up business, but there is a possibility that they may transform into arrogance and stubbornness. Does you concur with this perspective?

I can understand why start-ups might be perceived as arrogant and stubborn. However, to simplify, without an elevated level of confidence, who would be willing to risk their time, money, and even a successful career (albeit as an employee) to pursue a new idea, product, service, or business?

Recently, I engaged in a discussion with some investors searching for potential start-ups to invest in. After reviewing several proposals, they concluded that many young start-ups today often believe their products are unparalleled and that no one else can match their capabilities. In response, I expressed my viewpoint—that this unwavering belief is precisely what propels them into entrepreneurship. Without the conviction that their product can make a difference in the market, the idea of starting a business wouldn’t even cross their minds. The key takeaway here is that belief and confidence are indispensable for a start-up, but they need to be supported by factual evidence.

In my perspective, an effective business founder is one who comprehends their strengths and weaknesses, understanding how to distinguish themselves from other founders. A founder lacking in self-awareness may only display confidence in their strengths and, even then, may do so to mask their weaknesses. The absence of necessary knowledge can be detrimental to a business founder. Consequently, when consulting with start-ups, my initial focus is on helping their founders gain self-awareness. Self-understanding enables them to address their shortcomings, collaborate with those who share their vision, and appreciate the value others bring. The absence of such understanding, however, can transform confidence into arrogance and obscure the significance of collaboration and guidance.

Phong van nu doanh nhan Truong Ly Hoang Phi

“Embrace self-recognition as the highest form of self-honor!”

So, are you in favor of or against starting a business during this challenging period?

The fact that it’s not always feasible should not be a deterrent. Consider it this way: difficult times often foster more opportunities for new ideas to emerge. This becomes evident when you observe the F1 racetrack, where racers surpass each other not on the long, straight stretches but at the perilous turns. Pressure compels us to delve deep within ourselves, revealing our true character and resilience. The start-up market is consistently receptive to innovations. As long as you remain focused and devise sound business models and ideas, you still stand a chance of winning in this race.



As a seasoned businesswoman, does you think there should be a separate day to honor women in business, in addition to the traditional ‘Entrepreneurs’ Day’?

To be frank, I see minimal distinctions between men and women in the business world, and therefore, I don’t believe it’s necessary to designate a separate day to honor each gender. From my standpoint, business is a ‘minds’ game, and what truly captivates me is how business entrepreneurs make decisions and exert their influence. Moreover, with numerous existing days dedicated to celebrating women, adding another might seem redundant. Every day can be your day if you consistently give your best and appreciate yourself.

In my evolving perspective, the more experience I gain, the more I recognize that honor isn’t solely about standing in the spotlight and receiving praise from those around you. True honor can emanate from self-appreciation – a sense of pride that stems from within. It’s a distinctive way to honor yourself, elevating self-esteem not through public adoration but by fulfilling your inner feelings and emotions. Self-recognition stands as the highest form of self-honor!

People often notice that you travel extensively instead of staying at your desk. Is this how you manage stress? What is it about different destinations that appeals to you as a businesswoman?

In essence, I am a lover of freedom. Whenever I sense constraints within certain boundaries, I instinctively seek ways to break free. Traveling, exploring different destinations, and meeting new people serve as not just a means for me to cope with work stress, but also as a way to acquire new knowledge and generate fresh ideas.

The primary consideration for me when choosing a destination is not necessarily a completely unfamiliar place, but one that breathes new life into my mood and emotions, offering something novel and intriguing to learn. Some places have become recurrent destinations as they continue to offer more experiences, while others draw me simply because I enjoy being there, relishing moments of solitude.

Equally important for me is the safety of the destination. Being a woman who often travels alone, ensuring my safety by minimizing potential risks is a priority.

Phong van nu doanh nhan Truong Ly Hoang Phi

Between the young lady in her twenties that you once were and the businesswoman you are now, would you say your perspectives on life have become more flexible or rigid? How does you reflect on the woman you have become after embracing a career in business?

Certainly, I have undergone significant transformation since my youth. The more I navigate through life’s experiences, the more I find myself appreciating both life and the people around me. Over time, I’ve learned to embrace differences and see things as they truly are. While I used to hold high expectations, my current desire is simply to be myself and allow others to be themselves – nothing could be more fulfilling.

In my younger days, my perception was often confined to right or wrong, but with age, I’ve come to understand that absolutes rarely exist; instead, life falls within a spectrum between these extremes. I grant myself the freedom to develop my own opinions without excessive influence from others. Although not everything goes as planned, delving into the root of issues allows me to distinguish between preferences and dislikes, bringing a sense of tranquility to my mind. At this stage of life, the ability to pursue one’s passions and embrace diverse experiences is already a success in itself.

Through the years, I’ve witnessed individuals who once held everything in their hands only to taste the bitterness of losing it all. Analyzing their transformations has imparted profound lessons. Consequently, in my approach to business, the most valuable relationships are those fostered for genuine connection, rather than driven by social status or monetary gains. Superficial glory is fleeting, merely a passing moment in the grand scheme of existence and not a true measure of one’s worth. Business is intricately woven into my life, contributing significantly to the changes I’ve undergone. It has granted me the opportunity to explore diverse places, meet numerous people, and enrich my experiences through various situations, culminating in the kaleidoscopic view of life that defines who I am today.

Thank you for sharing!


Success Mindset:

In your view, what constitutes “success” for a businesswoman?

Success is grounded in appreciating your inherent values, having confidence in your creations, and finding contentment in what you possess.”



3 words to encapsulate your personality?
Responsibility – Audacity – Empathy

When faced with disappointment, how do you restore hope in yourself?
I seldom lose hope in myself, considering it my most valuable ‘asset.’ While increased responsibility may bring added pressure and, consequently, disappointments, one cannot afford to lose faith at every setback. There will always be aspects I’m dissatisfied with, even amidst apparent success. It’s crucial to conscientiously assess my strengths and weaknesses, concentrate on my strengths, and perceive life as an ongoing journey of self-improvement. This approach brings solace and reinstates hope during moments of uncertainty.

Published on BusinessWoman Magazine No 146.2023 | Content Director: JENNI VÕ | Creative Director: HIEPLEDUC | Editor: HIDA | Photo: THẠC TRƯỜNG GIANG | Makeup: DUY VĂN

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