The past nine years must have been a memorable ride for CREATIO’s founder, Ms. Pham Nhat Nga. We sat down with Ms. Nga to discuss CREATIO’s past and her plans for CREATIO’s future.
Q: How would you describe your journey with CREATIO so far?
If CREATIO were a train, it would have set out from IKIGAI station and passed through stops called Synergy, Growth Mindset, and Digitalization. Our ultimate destination is Sustainability. The luggage we’ve brought along contains our core values: Integrity, Caring, Attention to Detail, Innovation, Constant Improvement, and Passion for Winning.
The people who founded CREATIO in 2011 shared an idea that to be happy and fulfilled in your work, it must be work that you love. But passion alone is not enough. The work must be work that somebody else is willing to pay you for. Then your passion can become your profession. And the work must match your talents well enough that you become good at it. This will establish your work as a true vocation, a word that suggests something you were called to do. There’s still one more thing that’s required: the work must provide something that the world really needs. This will give you a sense of mission that will elevate your work above being simply an enjoyable and profitable exercise of your talents to something that gives you a deep feeling of satisfaction, self-worth, and connection to other people. All this is IKIGAI.
Q: CREATIO vision states that the company works for a business ecosystem of common growth, of social responsibility, and of inclusivity. Why is this your vision?
When we sat down in April, 2011, to start a company, the world was still reeling from the global economic crisis that began in 2007. Warren Buffett once described how the crisis exposed weak businesses by saying, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked." His words can be taken several ways, but we interpreted it to mean that companies whose corporate culture hides unethical, insincere, overhyped, or antisocial tendencies will ultimately be exposed and discredited. We agreed that we wanted our company’s core values to include integrity, authenticity, inclusivity, and social responsibility. We pledged never to hesitate to say no to any opportunity that conflicted with our ethical values.
Our choice was not a lone vote for integrity. A growing number of consumers around the world have been expressing a desire to buy products from ethical companies who are committed to social and environmental improvement. And governments are increasingly adopting legal and financial incentives that promote fair business competition and community involvement.
For the 9 years that CREATIO has been providing services to governments, businesses, and social organisations, we have championed the concept of sustainable development, which necessarily respects diversity, encourages inclusivity, and promotes shared community responsibility.
Q: What skills and qualifications does CREATIO bring to the table?
I brought to CREATIO prior senior management experience with a media consulting business that serves clients all across the Asia Pacific region. In that role I learned to craft messaging for client businesses and organisations that highlighted their social consciousness and practical benefit to society and reinforced the government’s own messaging and policies promoting sustainable development.
Media consulting, like most of the service industry, attracts empathetic individuals who take joy in the joy of others. But by embracing the Omotenashi service philosophy, CREATIO’s staff goes even further and makes our clients’ convenience and satisfaction the focus of every business decision.
To better understand the needs of our clients, who range from local social action organisations to government agencies to large global development groups, we try to keep abreast of socio-economic trends, geopolitical activity, and trends in specific sectors, as well as stay up-to-date with the latest communications and media technology. And we are continually expanding our network of partners and professional resources.
Members of the CREATIO staff have studied at schools in Europe, Australia, and Asia and have previously worked in a variety of organisations and businesses, acquiring along the way useful computer skills, foreign language skills, and skills in data gathering, analysis, and presentation, not to mention the ability to understand client-speak.
All of CREATIO’s departments - Design & Production, Branding, Content Marketing, PR & Distribution, and Event Management - are vertically integrated, by which I mean that they coordinate their efforts to deliver campaigns with a unified strategy, consistent messaging, and cost effectiveness.
Our commitment to sustainability extends to our relationship with each client. By working toward a shared vision and a common understanding of the problems to be solved, we hope to create a fruitful and enjoyable partnership geared to long-term success.
Q: What have been your toughest challenges? Has CREATIO ever had to abandon a mission as impossible?
One of our toughest challenges was organizing a fashion show on the occasion of the Dutch Prime Minister's visit to Vietnam in April, 2019. “Walk the Talk” was a fashion show that promoted diversity and inclusivity by including child, elderly, and LGBTQ models as well as models with disabilities. Under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation, the Fair Wear Foundation, and a Dutch NGO called CNV Internationaal, the event also promoted socially responsible business practices and fair labor standards in the textile industry, using the catchphrase ‘Who made my clothes?’
What made the show a real challenge was ensuring security for the Dutch and Vietnamese Prime Ministers at a public event, which required managing meticulous coordination between Vietnam’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Culture and Information, the Hanoi municipal People's Committee and municipal police force, Dutch and Vietnamese state security forces, and private event security.
Another big challenge involved the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), who signed a strategic consultancy contract with CREATIO in 2013. The Vietnamese government had decided in 2008 to build two nuclear power plants in Ninh Thuan, one of which with the help of ROSATOM, but by 2013 enthusiasm for nuclear power was waning in Vietnam because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan two years earlier.
CREATIO began rebuilding support for the project by organising informative seminars and workshops in Ninh Thuan province, holding press events, arranging field trips to a Russian nuclear facility, and waging a multi-media campaign to promote the benefits of nuclear technology that included international youth forums and summer camp activities. When, in November, 2016, the National Assembly voted to shut down the nuclear power plant project in Ninh Thuan, it appeared that CREATIO’s work had been in vain. Four years later, though, CREATIO continues to promote nuclear power for peaceful purposes under contract to ROSATOM, including organizing a series of Science & Technology Days at Vietnamese universities.
Although we have sometimes encountered obstacles that appeared insurmountable at first, CREATIO is full of individuals who don’t like to admit defeat. Our dogged determination and unshakable belief that there is a creative solution to every problem has enabled us to complete every task our 120 clients have set for us over the years.
Q: How have you dealt with the COVID-19 challenge?
The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly ushered the world into a new and unprecedented era. In response CREATIO quickly outlined a new company orientation based on the “Agile to Adapt” principles, 10 principles that begin with the 10 letters: A-G-I-L-E and A-D-A-P-T.
AGILE represents 5 things that must be done immediately to survive the crisis.
- A: Assess the situation. How are your customers affected?
- G: Government. How are governments reacting in the geographical area where your business is operating?
- I: Investors. Reassure your investors.
- L: Learning. Find a way to minimize your losses and redesign your operations.
- E: Employees. Make sure your employees are still on board.
ADAPT represents 5 things that must be done in the new situation brought about by the crisis.
- A: Assets. Secure them.
- D: Disruptions. Repair them or design them out of your business model.
- A: Alliances. Form new links with other survivors of the crisis.
- P: People. Use hard times to forge stronger bonds with staff, partners, and customers.
- T: Tenacity. Remember that crises cull out the weak and reward the strong.
Q: Do you have any advice for clients concerning the COVID-19 challenge?
The pandemic and the social distancing it entails has accelerated the digital transformation of society that was already underway. Enterprises must quickly embrace and exploit digital technology now or be left behind. A second thing to bear in mind is that people are feeling vulnerable right now because of this crisis and will therefore be especially receptive to messages conveyed with compassion and empathy.
Q: What motivates you to keep going?
That’s easy. It’s the dedication of my colleagues, some of whom have been with CREATIO for 9 years or left to pursue other opportunities and then returned. It is their broad range of talents and tireless efforts behind the scene that propel CREATIO forward and keep winning my boundless admiration and gratitude. As the slogan of Under Armour so aptly puts it: “It's what you do in the dark that puts you in the light”
Thank you very much!