#58: Hieu Nguyen

“Having a cat makes me a multitasker”

Hieu Nguyen - Product Manager at NamiTech

My family has cats, all of them are strays that we found on the streets. At first, we only had five, but whenever we saw a cat that someone had abandoned, we couldn’t bear to leave it behind. If we didn’t take it in and care for it, it would likely die of hunger, thirst, or illness. So, my spouse and I took them in, vaccinated them, and had them spayed or neutered, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to handle the increasing population haha.

My friends often ask me how I manage to work, take care of my wife, and tend to the cats. They wonder where I find the time. I believe that the most important skill is managing your own energy, not managing your time. After a long day at work, when I come home to find the cats have made a mess, it can be frustrating. But if I shift my perspective, I realize that I choose to work because I enjoy it, I choose to care for my wife and cats because I love them. It’s all coming from me, and when I focus on the love behind it all, everything becomes easier.

Well, everything has its ups and downs. You’d think everything is super tough, but there’s always joy to be found in everything. Let me tell you about Alpha, the oldest and coolest cat in our family. He’s tough and intimidating, a real boss cat. Whenever there’s a fight, he steps in and restores order. Now, only the girl cats fight with each other, while the boy cats listen to Alpha like he’s the boss of a gang or something. Alpha adores me, and when we first got him, he wouldn’t let me cuddle him. But now, whenever I pet him, he becomes so happy and content.When you put love into something, it will love you back. That’s true for my cats and my career.

Does my job stress me out? Of course, especially since I switched to a new field and took on more responsibilities as a manager. I have to study a lot and work hard. I used to study nuclear physics, but it wasn’t for me, so I switched to game development about 15 years ago. I started working for FPT because it was the top tech company in Vietnam at that time. Then I moved on to VNG, another top game development company in Vietnam. After a few years, I decided to switch things up and work for a Japanese company called DeNA, which is a top mobile game developer in Japan. I loved the culture, environment, and people at DeNA, and when the opportunity to work on AI projects presented itself, I took it. It was a coincidence that I decided to switch to AI when I was working at DeNA. In 2022, the CEO of DeNA’s new Singapore branch invited me to work on an AI project in Vietnam. It was a great opportunity for me, even though AI is something new and challenging. It’s a rapidly developing field, and I’m excited to be a part of it. So, that’s how I ended up working in AI after all these years in the gaming industry.

I’m not afraid of changing careers because I have a strong passion for what I do, and I’m not afraid of learning something new. I believe that if you don’t have passion, it’s hard to stick with this industry. I don’t have a fixed mindset, relying on old knowledge from my previous field, or expecting others to guide me. For example, when I started working in a new field, instead of waiting for a two-month training period with my boss telling me what to do, I took the initiative to explore new things and learn new knowledge. I opened up files from people who previously worked on a similar task, checked out data related to the department, talked to relevant people, and learned a lot. In this industry, I always have to be adaptable and learn quickly to create valuable products.

Work is something we have to do every day, and there’s always pressure. It’s like a flood, and if you don’t find a way to control it, you’ll drown. So, I try to find ways to limit the flood and release some of the pressure. I choose sports as a way to release my stress. I swim, box and run. I also practice meditation, and I’ve noticed an interesting fact. When I’m with strangers, no matter how frustrated or pressured I am, I try to hold it in. But when I’m with my family or loved ones, I’m more likely to express my frustrations to them. Because I know that no matter how ugly I may seem, my loved ones will always be there for me. Now I’ve learned a “secret” that whenever I feel stressed or pressured, I just need to sleep on it, and the next day, when I wake up feeling refreshed and healthy, I can handle it much better.

I think everything difficult is like training for a sport. You just have to keep doing it until it becomes a habit. Everything has a “difficult beginning,” for example, when you first start running, you may only be able to run a few hundred meters. But with practice, you can run a kilometer, then a few kilometers, then dozens of kilometers, and eventually, even run a marathon. I’m someone who learned a new field, and I jumped from one field to another. So, even at this age, I’m not afraid to start from scratch with new things. Persistence, self-belief, and love are the keys to success.

Techie Story is a digital magazine about inspiring tech people who have contributed continuously to Science, Technology, and Innovation. Please contact us at team@techiestory.net if you want to contribute your inspiring story.
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