PNJ Chairwoman Cao Thi Ngoc Dung: "Gold quality tempered in blazing fire and cold water"

By Kim Yen - May 07, 2018 | 04:04 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERSoft skill of the most powerful woman in Vietnam’s jewellery industry is the will to overcome difficulties along with a strong belief in humans and human values.

PNJ Chairwoman Cao Thi Ngoc Dung: "Gold quality tempered in blazing fire and cold water"
Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, Chairwoman - Managing Director of PNJ

On its 30th birthday, the story of Phu Nhuan Jewellery JSC (PNJ) was told by the men and women who have appreciated PNJ as a purpose of life, a pride, a place to devote all youth. And the soul of PNJ is Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, the leader who has led PNJ through ups and downs to become the pride of Vietnam’s jewellery industry.

The aspiration to bring Vietnam jewellery to the world

The leader Cao Thi Ngoc Dung in a corporate meeting in 1996-1997 term

Over the past 30 years, PNJ has quietly reversed the phrase "The Vietnamese use Vietnamese goods" into "Vietnamese goods conquer the Vietnamese". This quote has been turned into the internal strength of all over 5,000 people of PNJ.

After 30 years of establishment, PNJ has owned reputable and prestigious jewellery brands, which are strong enough to compete with reputable brands in the world, such as PNJ Gold, PNJ Silver, CAO Fine Jewellery, and Jemma Jewellery. PNJ's market share is far ahead of other brands in the industry, with a distribution network of nearly 300 stores in 48 provinces and cities across the country.

PNJ jewellery is exported to 13 countries and regions around the world. It has become a national brand name and has been honoured with prestigious awards in Vietnam. PNJ is also the only jewellery company in the Top 50 most valuable brands of Vietnam in 2017, which was valued by Brand Finance (the United Kingdom). It ranked 23rd with the brand value of $98 million, up 21% over 2016.

Values passed through generations

Branding is always a focus of the company. To PNJ, one of the most important factors in brand building is to establish the trust in customers about the high quality and authenticity of the products, which have helped the company gain prestige in the market.

Jewellery is a special industry. PNJ does not rely on agencies in management. Hence, an employee is often assigned to keep from 50 to 1,000 tael of gold (one tael equals to 3.75 gram), not to mention diamonds and gems. So what made them keep their honesty?

It is the company culture, which has been built on the basis of Benevolence, Proper Philosophy, Righteousness, Knowledge, and Integrity, with specific instructions for everyone to know their responsibility. Besides, PNJ always has a hedge fund and well caters for the life of its workers.

As a result, the most significant profit of PNJ is trust. Over the last 30 years, not even a head of a team left the company in the most difficult time.

Dung in a team-building event of PNJ

Apart from attracting talents mainly by corporate culture, PNJ also develops the passion in them. Over the years, Cao Thi Ngoc Dung has always firmly attached to the activities of PNJ departments, especially R&D and marketing. She always encourages them to face new challenges and use creativity.

After establishing two new companies, Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, PNJ’s founder and chairwoman, officially appointed Le Tri Thong to her position.

Cao Thi Ngoc Dung - "My love"

Dung is not only a leader of PNJ but also the trust of all the staff

To be a leader is hard, but to be called "my love" by the employees, how much more time and effort does it take? She sincerely said:

Recently, our company is reading the book "Start with Why". Yes, the story of PNJ that day comes from the question: Why can a state-owned enterprise grow steadily as a whole until today?

It is the story of trust. The trust started from leaders of Phu Nhuan district then, when they assigned me to establish this company.

Starting with a tiny capital and 20 staff, we invited the jewellers of Phu Nhuan – Ba Chieu region to form PNJ gradually. Doing this job, if we did not trust one another, we could not have done anything, as it is related to the jewels.

We will never forget to appreciate Nguyen Duy Lo, who sincerely trusted PNJ right from the beginning. He provided PNJ with the capital to save one of its companies from bankruptcy.

I often tell my staff, “losing money is acceptable, but losing trust is not”. We have committed with this slogan until today.

Passing her position to her successor also means passing the trust to another generation of PNJ.

Another man I will never forget is the then Chair of World Gold Council - Asia, Alber Chang. After three years of finding ways to build PNJ when information and knowledge are hard to find, I was disheartened. He told me, “You are going on the right way. The places where I have shown you like Thailand or Indonesia are about 20 years ahead of Vietnam. You are taking the first steps, don’t give up.” He trusted that I could make it.

I have trust in my dream and my staff, but I know trust is not enough. I am proud that I have built a home where my team believe and love one another. However, it still has disciplines, and encourages us to keep on studying along with trying our best through ups and downs.

Dung in a social event for the environment

Once again, we encountered hardship in 2015, when the incident of Dong A Bank happened. We faced the risk of being controlled. If at that time we had not had faith in ourselves, there would not have been a PNJ like today.

After that, in only three years, PNJ has grown threefold. The value of PNJ shares has increased nearly tenfold, and now, the PNJ staff reaches 5,500 people. Our profit in 2017 was nearly $44 million with the growth rate of over 30 per cent. Every year, PNJ contributes tens of millions of dollars to the State budget.

From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate the people that have trusted me and supported our company with their all…