A business career can take on many paths, each guided by a different philosophy. But one thing is certain, those that lead to success and glory are paved with professional ethics, a quality not easily defined.
A businesswoman with a heart full of passion, Lê Ngọc Lam Quỳnh – CEO of Oracle Clinic Viet Nam, chooses to pursue a community-driven business with a focus on ethical values. She endeavors to expand her business into an international beauty-making ecology providing highly specialized and comprehensive services, and in doing so, inspire Vietnamese women to adopt a positive lifestyle and mindset towards beauty.
The pursuit of “beauty”
Your journey through various fields of work before venturing into the beauty industry is intriguing. It prompts the question: What motivated you to introduce Oracle, a Korean beauty brand, to Vietnam?
Following my graduation from RMIT University, Lam Quỳnh embarked on a successful career at Lowe, an international media agency, where I contributed to the development of marketing campaigns for major FMCG brands. Subsequently, after marriage, I assumed the role of Deputy General Manager at Vinafeed Group, overseeing the cattle feed R&D and Marketing departments with a team of over 1,000.
Like many women, health and beauty became significant concerns for me, especially after the birth of my two children. Juggling work pressure and family responsibilities, I found myself increasingly self-conscious about my physical appearance. In the quest for a solution, I explored various health and beauty care brands, both domestic and international, even subscribing to their VIP memberships. However, none could instill the trust I sought.
The turning point came during a business trip to Korea to engage with Vinafeed’s partner, CJ Bio. It was there that I discovered Oracle Medical Group. Visiting their headquarters left me impressed with their professionalism, discipline, and achievements. Personally experiencing their therapies, I became convinced of their effectiveness and unwavering commitment to safety.
After careful consideration, I made the decision to bring this exceptional brand to Vietnam, regardless of the challenges. This commitment involved three more trips to Korea until we finally reached an agreement, marking the official establishment of Oracle Vietnam.
“To become a businesswoman, a woman also needs to be determined, even aggressive at times.”
Would Lam Quỳnh attribute your confidence in the brand’s potential in Vietnam to the remarkable first impression?
Yes, the highly standardized beauty therapy protocols made a strong initial impression on me. However, it was the subsequent visits and my deeper understanding of the cutting-edge technology consistently applied at Oracle that truly captured my admiration.
Oracle’s strengths extend beyond treatment expertise to encompass the training of medical and technical staff, as well as the quality of manufacturing equipment and machinery – a combination that upholds their commitment to being a One-Stop Solution. For instance, in Vietnam, most dermatologists specialize in pathology, and those aspiring to practice at Oracle undergo additional training in cosmetic science. Another distinctive feature is the meticulous process of selecting an appropriate course of beauty therapy. While many beauty centers rely on consulting specialists, Oracle employs advanced technology equipment for the initial diagnosis, with a doctor overseeing both the planning and execution of the treatment. This approach ensures consistency, safety, and optimal treatment outcomes. Our consulting staff focuses on post-treatment care, addressing customer requests and inquiries with unwavering dedication.
Initially, my goal was to introduce this internationally tested beauty brand to potential customers in Vietnam. However, as operations commenced, with my medical staff receiving in-service training in Korea and myself undergoing a comprehensive six-month training course at Oracle in various positions, I became fully convinced of their commitment to medical ethics. Dermatological cosmetics is a branch of medicine, and Oracle’s core dedication to medical ethics has been the foundation of my confidence in the growth and development of Oracle Vietnam as it stands today.
Seven years have passed since Oracle’s establishment. Can you share any changes in Oracle’s development path during this time?
The management board and I consistently monitor market shifts, adjusting our strategy annually with a primary focus on two key aspects. Firstly, we prioritize upholding our state-of-the-art technology and world-class quality through constant updates and bold investments. Secondly, we strive to maximize the values of the customer’s experience.
In its initial years in Vietnam, Oracle operated under the same business model as its Korean parent company, functioning as a cosmetic hospital. Our customer base primarily consisted of the Korean community in Vietnam, who were already familiar with the brand, along with Vietnamese customers possessing a certain level of understanding in the beauty industry and confidence in our services. Throughout this period, I made adjustments to our service delivery to better align with Vietnamese culture and the local mindset towards beauty.
Currently, while maintaining adherence to Oracle’s core values, I am dedicated to enhancing the customer experience through innovations in the beauty therapy process. This involves incorporating high-end technology and relaxation care. My goal is to ensure that every customer at Oracle Vietnam feels comfortable and relaxed, regardless of the service they require – whether it’s invasive or non-invasive, major or minor surgery.
Beyond our core services, we have introduced additional options, including pain-relief therapies, post-treatment care, and Thai-style massages performed by professional therapists. This expansion is a result of intensive training that not only enhances our technicians’ competence but also their commitment and dedication to customer care. The management process has undergone systemization and IT upgrades, utilizing custom-made software to monitor customer care from the beginning to the end, ensuring optimal treatment efficacy.
With the beauty market rapidly expanding, does Lam Quỳnh have concerns about the intensifying competition?
Objectively speaking, beauty centers and facilities in Vietnam are proliferating, but only a select few manage to attain an international level of expertise and professionalism. Often, their brand marketing strategies heavily focus on the personal image of the owner or excessively exaggerate the brand itself, neglecting to emphasize service quality, technology, and facilities and equipment. While this may yield instant fame and some profits initially, it is not a sustainable approach and, more importantly, does not benefit end-users in the long run.
In light of the competition in the beauty industry over the years, I firmly believe that the assurance of quality will also secure a market position. With our substantial investment in cutting-edge technology and the competence of our medical staff, I am confident in navigating the competitive landscape. However, we recognize that the era of “good wine needs no bush” has passed, and we understand that marketing is an essential companion to quality assurance. The message we aim to convey, setting us apart from others, is grounded in business ethics and built upon service quality rather than superficial glamour.
Could Lam Quỳnh share something about Oracle Viet Nam’s direction in the near future?
Oracle Vietnam’s vision for the future goes beyond traditional beauty therapy, recognizing that outer beauty constitutes only half of sustainable beauty. The other crucial half, inner health, involves various factors such as appropriate healthcare, diet, rest, and a holistic range of activities. This informative message is central to a new business model introduced two years ago, known as OUI. The term “OUI” not only translates to “yes” in French but also signifies all-roundedness and perfection.
In collaboration with Oracle Vietnam, OUI specializes in services that complement Oracle’s offerings, including stem cell therapy, hair therapy, relaxation, and functional food for health support. This approach aims to complete the inside-out beauty process. Moreover, through OUI, the goal is to create a community of individuals who share a positive lifestyle and an optimistic mindset.
Looking ahead, Oracle Vietnam is working towards establishing an ecology in health and beauty over the next few years. The objective is to bring the world’s top-notch technology to Vietnamese consumers at an affordable price. Oracle Vietnam remains committed to upholding its corporate values and culture of integrity and professionalism based on business ethics. The expansion plan is already underway, with the opening of six new branches in areas with high intellectual capital in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
“The longer you do business, the more you need to learn.”
Does Lam Quỳnh consider your background in business administration a competitive edge when establishing and running your own business?
While my formal training in business administration contributed to less than 10% of what I practically apply in reality, it laid a foundational knowledge that enables quick thinking and decisive action throughout the business administration and management process. Professional training does offer a competitive edge, particularly in the early stages. However, ongoing learning is imperative for performing well, especially in fields unrelated to one’s training. For me, navigating the cattle feed, beauty, and cosmetic industries required specific expertise in each domain. In essence, my journey has been a continuous learning experience. I firmly believe that business intellect requires lifelong dedication to learning, finding lessons in everyone and everything around us.
How did Lam Quỳnh fill the gap in medical knowledge to operate a beauty center?
To ensure the smooth launch of the brand in Vietnam, I underwent an intensive six-month training process, making frequent trips to Korea. This hands-on approach involved observing and monitoring each position’s operations and procedures, providing deep insights into every aspect of our business. For medical expertise, I joined our medical staff on in-service training trips to Korea, engaging in technology transfer and skincare techniques training sessions. Additionally, I educated myself further on surgical procedures using resources from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy and Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine. While we have a Professional Director for expertise-related matters at Oracle Vietnam, possessing a solid understanding of cosmetics and medicine’s general knowledge helps me manage the staff more efficiently, ensuring the best service quality and experience for our customers.
I believe that learning extends to understanding emotions in this field. Service transcends tangible goods and visible effects, involving human feelings from both the giving and receiving ends. A happy staff leads to happy customers. In this industry, the ultimate business goal is achieving satisfaction from both employees and customers. Therefore, continuous observation of human emotions and learning how to manage them in diverse situations is crucial for both me and the entire staff in our daily operations.
“I believe that learning for business intellectual is a life-long cause.”
How does Lam Quỳnh ensure that your staff, from doctors to those in other departments, always feel happy working here?
Recognizing that doctors, managers, and technicians are all fundamentally people, I prioritize building positive interpersonal relationships based on sympathy and understanding. I believe that individuals, especially those in the medical field, inherently seek truth, goodness, and beauty. Aligning our corporate culture with these values attracts and retains those who share this vision.
Treating everyone in the company as a family member is a core principle. We have established enduring relationships with all the doctors, supporting their continuous education and providing incentives beyond work. Encouraging open communication, any staff facing problems is encouraged to speak with me, allowing me to listen and provide mental relief. In business administration, I firmly believe that treating personnel with decency fosters reciprocal respect and cooperation.
Besides formal business knowledge, what other skills do Lam Quỳnh believe are necessary for someone to become a competent entrepreneur?
Leadership is paramount, differentiating a boss from a leader. Leading involves creating a path for others to follow, making it a more challenging yet crucial skill. Additionally, leveraging human resources effectively is vital. A competent entrepreneur or leader doesn’t have to excel in every area but can retain those who excel where they do not. Bringing everyone together is another key entrepreneurial skill. Regardless of individual excellence, collective achievement is only possible through cooperation. Thus, a business owner or leader must unite everyone to work collaboratively, share, and support each other, recognizing that collective power surpasses individual competence.
Behind a successful woman
In your opinion, what are the necessary qualities for a businesswoman?
A woman’s strengths, such as flexibility, sympathy, and subtlety, are invaluable. However, to excel as a businesswoman, determination and occasional assertiveness are equally crucial. Overly sentimental tendencies may not be advantageous in the business world, so it’s important to be mindful of that. In essence, I believe women need to embrace a certain level of assertiveness to thrive in business.
The saying goes, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.” What are your thoughts on the opposite – does a successful woman need someone to back them up?
I don’t believe this need is gender-specific. Everyone, regardless of gender, benefits from having a soulmate who stands by them during challenges and uncertainties. This is especially true for a businesswoman, juggling multiple roles. Having someone to lend an ear, a shoulder, and ideally, offer advice is a priceless blessing. It not only alleviates the pressures on their career but also provides wings for it to soar higher. Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate enough to find such support. Personally, I am grateful to be among the fortunate few who found that special someone in my husband. We became acquainted as classmates at a young age and have strengthened our bonds through various trials. However, I don’t take his support for granted, nor can he always offer it. Independence is crucial in navigating the world, and enduring success often stems from one’s own efforts.
“Beauty will shine even brighter when accompanied by confidence, aspiration, and determination.”
Being a mother of 4 children, how does Lam Quỳnh manage to overcome the pressure from your dual roles as a mother, a home keeper, and an aspiring businesswoman?
Giving birth to children is, in fact, not as challenging as raising them. As a perfectionist and over thinker, I approach the upbringing of my 4 children with far-reaching plans that kick in as soon as they start kicking in my belly (laughs). As they grow older, some of these plans have proven successful, while others were less so. However, all of them have made me realize that raising children is akin to managing a company’s personnel. As an overseer, it is crucial to give them enough space to develop their own opinions and make their own decisions, within certain limits. Interfering too much in how they play or do things only adds pressure on both ends.
Currently, I’m striving to balance time between work and family, allowing me to dedicate my heart and soul to each aspect for a given period. For example, I limit my work hours at the company to 5 hours a day. This way, when my children have free time, I am available to play with them. When they engage in homework or go to bed, I transition back to my work. This structured approach helps me be present for both my family and my professional responsibilities.
Does Lam Quỳnh believe that physical attractiveness serves as an advantage for women? As a businesswoman in the beauty industry, how do you view the role of beauty in a woman’s success?
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as an unattractive woman—only those who haven’t mastered the art of making themselves appealing. Physical attractiveness undeniably holds its advantages, as women often refer to themselves as the fair sex. However, beauty transcends a mere pretty face; it encompasses the organized, refined, and composed way in which women carry themselves, reflecting a commitment to self-care. At times, a touch of lipstick, some blush, and an elegant dress can make a significant impact.
In my perspective, beauty is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one. Beauty truly shines when coupled with confidence, aspiration, and determination. Improving outer appearance is a means for women to appreciate and align themselves with the transcendent values of “truth – goodness – beauty.” Nurturing and valuing oneself not only indicates an ability to appreciate diverse values but also serves as a powerful indicator of potential success.
Thank you for sharing, Lam Quỳnh!
Which three words would most accurately describe your personality?
Love – Integrity – Determination
Are you skilled at cooking?
Cooking is my way to unwind (laughs). I can prepare a diverse range of dishes, from Northern Vietnamese to Western cuisine.
Does Lam Quỳnh believe that the traditional virtues of “works – comportment – speech – conduct” are necessary for a businesswoman?
I believe these virtues are timeless, forming the distinctive beauty of Vietnamese women. Regardless of societal changes, there is every reason to preserve them. A woman shaped by these four virtues remains a timeless and precious gem.
Exclusive interview released on BusinessWoman Magazine No.146.2024 | Content Director: JENNI VÕ | Creative Director: HIEPLEDUC | Editor: J.V, HIDA | Translated by HÒA TÔN | Photo: NGUYỄN DƯƠNG | Stylist: THUẬN TỪ | Makeup: SANG NGUYỄN | Outfit: Larmes