People and Culture

Leading Vietnam’s Booming Technology Scene: Chris Luu’s life as a consultant at Zühlke

Find out more about consulting at Zühlke in Vietnam 

4 minutes to read
With insights from...

  • Learn what life’s really like as an expert software engineer for Zühlke in Vietnam

  • Discover the three most important skills that drive Chris’s team of innovation service providers

  • Read why a typical project demands atypical solutions

Chris Luu grins when we ask about his career journey. The Expert Software Engineer has worked in Zühlke’s Ho Chi Minh office for 18 months. Was life as a developer always the plan?

“Actually, most of my family were drawn towards the arts. I knew I liked being creative, but I enjoyed logical thinking too. So I picked something that blended both. I started out as a front-end developer, and over the years, became a full-stack engineer."

‘Every day is different’ can be a cliche. But for Chris, it’s the truth. – He spends some days researching, getting under the skin of client challenges and consulting on possible solutions. On other days, he's setting up and developing projects, constantly testing potential solutions.

“There’s no standard routine, as such. Any one day might see me consulting with clients, stress-testing ideas with colleagues, or figuring out the right answers to get existing projects over the line.”

Balancing client satisfaction with implementation velocity

Chris’s team tackles a conveyor belt of technical challenges posed by clients. Resolving them efficiently means weighing up deadlines. There’s lots of back and forth both internally and externally.

“Clients don’t typically have much experience on what they really need. Many have in-house teams, but they want to work with us because we can provide the best-shaped solutions, faster. That starts with frequent brainstorming sessions to narrow down what’s feasible, and then keep things on track.

It’s also common for them to come back later on with additional goals, which can impact timelines. So a big part of our discussions focus on what we can do to get the balance right between client satisfaction and business deadlines. Whatever we suggest has to be aligned with the project’s state of development… or it won’t work.”

The power of three

Chris accepts that, due to the diverse nature of projects he consults on, his team won’t have immediate answers to every question that comes their way. Accepting knowledge gaps — and filling them quickly — is part of the approach.

“Just the other day, we identified that a client needed a specific technical integration. But while the team had vast experience in one element of that process, it involved brand new concepts, too. That meant I needed to research those concepts quickly, follow up with courses, and then apply my new knowledge.”

Does the ability to think quickly underscore Zühlke’s value proposition?

“Definitely, although I’d put the consultancy’s effectiveness down to three different qualities. Being able to upskill quickly falls under our technical ability. I’m lucky to work with team mates who have a broad range of skill sets — we can always help each other filling in knowledge gaps.

The second one would be communication skills. A good principle we follow is to always have two sets of Zühlke eyes in each meeting. That helps us to think about not only what we tell the client but how we tell it to them. The end result is greater peace of mind for all parties, despite working under pressure.

The third aspect is trust, which ties back to accepting knowledge gaps. Even when we’re faced with an extremely novel challenge, there’s complete certainty that we’ll solve it. There’s no ‘can you do this?’ only ‘you’ve got this — how can we help?’. The environment is built on complete trust between team members. It’s very empowering.”

Why ‘typical’ projects demand atypical solutions

For Chris and his team, ‘typical’ delivery projects – that is to say diverse ones — require atypical solutions. Recently, a high-profile enterprise put them to the test.

“We’ve been working on a global project centered on ecological sustainability. In a nutshell, the client uses a dashboard to visualise important data-points. Their senior leaders then use those visualisations to inform major decisions around funding. The real-world implications of those decisions are huge!

They asked for our help to build an app that would help them digitise their process. But when things began, they weren’t prepared to divulge some of the information we needed due to privacy concerns. Ultimately, we had to prove to them we understood what was needed despite lacking key data points initially.

After intense introductory Q&A sessions with the client, I realised that the original plan wasn’t going to work. For instance, they had certain kinds of data they wanted to track, but their proposal for structuring that data — a dynamic form composer — would have had a domino effect on other aspects of the project. Over time, I collected enough information to quantify the prospective efforts and timelines involved — and was able to show them a different, quicker way of achieving the same goal. One they wouldn’t have thought of.”

Achieving more with less

If you thought Zühlke in Vietnam was an outsourcing company, you’re mistaken. Chris summarises their consultative value as a team that ‘achieves more, with less.’

“When clients come to us, we evaluate all kinds of things — exhaustively — to make the best possible decisions. When we execute those decisions, the outcome may be different than they might have pictured originally… but with better results, for less. It’s a great feeling.”

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