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IT Outsourcing

Wanna join flat world? Do you speak English?

Sophie Lelarge
Sophie Lelarge
Chief Revenue Officer

While enjoying a public holiday (anniversary of the death of Hung kings, ancestors of the Vietnamese) I could step back and think of the recruitment process within Pentalog Vietnam during the last two months. (Thanks to Fred who has given a very nice speech to our colleagues in Hanoi before his departure, on intercultural communication and management, which encouraged me to continue this discussion).At Pentalog Vietnam we will be almost 20 collaborators next week and we’ll be able to start the big project for our client – a European leader in the Tobacco industry. To achieve this, we interviewed nearly a hundred applicants.Certainly, we pre-sorted the CVs first and our candidates passed online technical test, but still, I must confess that it was a bit difficult. Given the number of human resources available on the market, given the crisis that makes our task easier, as several companies have no more projects, one may wonder why the difficulty in recruiting? The reason is simple: Pentalog has very high expectations with an emphasis not only on technical competence of the candidate but also on his/her ability to communicate. We demand that our collaborators are capable of communicating verbally in English and, if possible, in French. We systematically conduct interviews in both Vietnamese and English. Those who refuse to speak in English during an interview or who cannot express themselves correctly in English will never join us, even if they are experts in Java, .NET…Now Pentalog has about thirty French collaborators, two hundred Romanians, almost one hundred Moldovans and about twenty Vietnamese. Such an environment, with a functionally centralized organization and travels between offices, forces people to get out of their shell and communicate with the others.Vietnamese outsourcing is in most cases based on a model of communication or a project; there are only one or 2 people who interface with the customer at the other end of the world. The rest of the team has never spoken directly with the customer; we call them “silent developers” or “code pissers”. Of course, they seek to defend themselves by saying “well, I write and chat every day with clients.” It’s good, but not enough! What do we do when there is a problem to be solved immediately in 5 minutes, or a point that cannot be explained in writing? Also imagine if the person who created the interface is incompetent?A piece of information that I reveal to you Monica, because you often ask me why we do not see candidates from a limited number of companies. Because many candidates with good CVs, with good results on tests, reply to me when I tell them that part of the interview is to be conducted in English: “Is it possible to speak in Vietnamese only? I assure you that I can perfectly read documents in English.” The truth is that many companies do not encourage their employees to speak English. In time, this becomes a real handicap, which limits their evolution.Here’s an anecdote: recently, when I talked about this problem with a dear friend of mine, who probably is a god in computer science, with over 15 years of experience, but not too good in English, he replied with irritation: “Go find your candidates in language schools!” This was a desperate attempt to defend!All this upsets me very much! One who talks about globalization must talk about communication. One should no longer be satisfied with his technical skills but also with his language skills. An IT engineer who speaks English has probably twice as many opportunities for development and is two times more likely to remain intact in this difficult period.At Pentalog Vietnam we continuously provide free English/French courses to our employees. I am happy to see how our men are rushing to follow this course and not because the teachers are very good-looking. They are well aware how much the command of one or more foreign languages contributes in their careers. Out of the current 20 collaborators, all speak English and seven speak French. Maxime is Franco-American and speaks Vietnamese perfectly with a Southern accent. Binh and Bach speak Japanese fluently. That is an international company! Of course, there is still a gap with our Romanian / Moldovan friends in the matter, but I hope we will catch up very quickly.I am convinced that in order to transform Vietnam, which is “potentially” the first outsourcing destination, in the REAL destination, we must continuously improve our language level. Consider the case of a less typical person, that we dearly call our Uncle: everything he did had nothing to do with chance. Already confident in his communication skills, he spoke perfectly French, English, Chinese, Italian, German, Russian but also Thai, Spanish, Arabic…So, don’t you speak English? Then, no thanks!

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