When Rachel graduated, little did she know that her willingness to embrace the unknown would lead to one of the best adventures of her life.
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Rachel Teo applied to CapitaLand's Graduate Development Programme (GDP) and discovered the exciting opportunities beyond a specific job title. In this leadership-building curriculum, she was shown a variety of job scopes. In the process, she built herself a strong network of colleagues across different business units. Her posting landed her in Ho Chi Minh City with the CapitaLand Vietnam Sales and Marketing team. Six months in, she fell in love with the country’s exotic beauty and this is already her third year with CapitaLand in Vietnam.
We spoke to Rachel to learn more about living and working in one of Southeast Asia's fastest growing economies, home to a population of over 92 million, and more than 45 million motorbikes.
I saw an opportunity to dive into the unexpected and the unknown, and thought to myself – why not? My first day in CapitaLand Vietnam was also my first time in the country.
Vietnam and Singapore are vastly different. Was the move difficult?
For about 6 months to a year, I was mostly struggling to understand the market, the business and how to get things done in a new city and at work – all of which was unlike what I was used to in Singapore.
But without any preconceived notions of Vietnam, I was able to adapt to the environment, and the work and country grew on me over time.
In one sentence, how would you describe Vietnam?
From the whirring sounds of engines in a sea of motorcycles, to the smells of local street food and the stories you hear from locals on how they have thrived since the war - Vietnam is a country of unique and intrinsic charms that are yet to be discovered.
Any travel recommendations?
Ho Chi Minh City with a trip to Mui Ne for sand dunes, Da Lat for mountains and waterfalls, Sa Pa for scenic views of rice fields, and Hoi An for a cultural experience.
What do you love most about Vietnam?
The energy and dynamism that comes with a growing market – an ever-changing environment; yet with hidden enclaves where one can seek comfort amidst the chaos.
What about Ho Chi Minh City?
Ho Chi Minh City has “secret” places like hidden restaurants, boutiques, cafés and bars that you would only find whilst you’re here or with the help of a local friend. (Writer’s note: Make friends with a local!)
Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee exporter with a vibrant café scene. Any go-to hangout or drink?
I usually try new places where possible and do not really have a go-to café. When exploring a new café, I usually order a latte.
Any tips for visitors?
Don’t be too afraid of crossing the road!
How has working overseas enriched your life?
Whenever I look out the airplane window as I arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, I can identify the projects that CapitaLand Vietnam has built. This is perhaps one of the most enriching parts of my overseas experience – knowing that you have contributed towards the development of a city.
On the personal front, navigating the local environment away from my family and friends has taught me to be more resilient and independent.
Anything to say to fresh grads considering the GDP?
Keep an open mind and be willing to try new opportunities.