#87: Phuc Dang

“Open source has brought me so many opportunities, so I want to share them with others.”

Hong Phuc Dang - Founder at FOSSASIA

I was born in Mekong Delta, used to be a student majoring in Marketing, but after graduating, all my jobs changed to the IT field. Maybe it was destiny (laughs) because even though I don’t have a tech background, I am now one of the representatives of the international open source community and was elected as an important contributor in promoting the development of free and open source in Asia.

The fate for this turn was that in the last year of college, around 2007, FOSSBridge was held in Hanoi to introduce open source for the first time in Vietnam and I participated as an interpreter for my friend’s company. That was the first time I heard about this field, and afterwards, I joined the “Linux User Group” to learn more about free software, tried installing Ubuntu, learned command line scripting, and gradually transitioned to using only free and open source software. I also actively participated in the group’s weekly meetups and met many people working in open source who were always passionate about what they were doing. Sometimes they would spend 2-3 hours teaching me how to write command lines (CLI), so from there I felt like I learned a lot from them and started to like this community.

To me, open source is more than a story about software because its philosophy is about sharing knowledge, ideas, and global collaboration. That’s why I want to share it with more people, especially in my homeland, Vietnam. In 2009, I brought the GNOME.Asia Summit to Saigon, which was the first FOSS event in the country. Also this year, I established the FOSSASIA community.

In 2017, I officially founded FOSSASIA company in Singapore to support activities like this and to further develop open source projects. After more than a decade of operation, besides notable achievements, there have certainly been countless difficulties. For FOSSASIA and other open source organizations, the main challenge has always been resources, especially financial resources, because FOSSASIA is not a commercial or business organization. The company has funding, but it’s not enough to hire everyone, so it relies heavily on contributors from the community. But because of that, FOSSASIA’s most difficult time was during the Covid-19 period, when the main maintainer in India, who was leading the project, passed away, and for over a year, the company faced great difficulties in finding someone as competent to replace him. The project also slowed down and only recently started to become active again. From that experience, I learned the lesson that we must always have co-backups and as much necessary documentation as possible so that the replacement can catch up more easily.

Apart from FOSSASIA, I still work on other jobs, such as being an Information and Communications Technology Consultant for Mercedes-Benz in Germany, guiding them in digital transformation, or working with non-governmental organizations like GIZ and UNESCO. For about the last 5 years, I have also worked for Zalando in Berlin, the largest e-commerce company in Europe, specializing in Product Management in Site Reliability Engineering. Looking back now, I never expected that I could go this far in the tech industry because my background was originally in marketing and business.

I know I don’t have the best background in tech compared to those who come from prestigious universities. Thanks to open source, I have received many opportunities, and even without a tech education, I can still work in this industry. I even received an offer from Google Singapore a few years ago (but I declined and chose to go to Germany), and I have been invited to speak and share my experiences in various countries because companies recognize my abilities through the activities I have done. After receiving so much, I also want to give back to others, so that this community can continue to grow. The thing I am most grateful for is that in the ten-plus years of FOSSASIA’s operation, every year, there are people who come back and express their gratitude because FOSSASIA has connected them to great opportunities. Many have gone on to work for Google, Microsoft, or receive scholarships to study abroad thanks to community activities. I am also motivated by the fact that I can see the positive impact of what I do on others. If you are interested in open source, don’t hesitate to contact me, I will do my best to help.

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.
Techie Story

More Stories

74-tuan-vu's post thumbnail
19-tham-le's post thumbnail
89-chau-vu's post thumbnail
72-xuan-luong's post thumbnail
65-chau-tran-2's post thumbnail
59-ha-my's post thumbnail