This summer will roughly mark my 5th year with Hansem since my first visit to Suwon. Originally from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I am now actually living in Suwon with my wife, who is Korean and also one of my co-workers at Hansem.
It started with an email from Hansem around May of 2015 regarding the launch of its first branch office in Vietnam, its first base in Southeast Asia. Just a couple months later, I landed in Incheon Airport for my first visit to South Korea.
As a new Vietnamese intern, I was sent to the company’s headquarters to train for a few months. I worked at Hansem Vietnam for about three years before immigrating to South Korea in 2019 as a spouse. Later, I was hired to continue working with Hansem at its headquarters, in the very team that trained me just a few years earlier.
Before working at a South Korean firm, I got quite a lot of feedback from people I knew due to stereotypes, such as long working hours or harsh working environment. However, I saw a different picture at Hansem. As I was new back then, there was such a steep learning curve, where I had to go from concepts such as “L10N” to cross-department processes like manual development, multilingual translation, and linguistic quality assurance measures. Had it not been for the kindness and endless support of my Korean colleagues and supervisors, it would have had been impossible. One of the hardest things for me emotionally when I was leaving for Korea was parting ways with my previous team at Hansem Vietnam, whom I had grown very fond of over the years. Some of them remain great friends and close advisors.
As my command of Korean was non-existent at first, one thing I am always thankful for is that I can rely on English for communication thanks to the fact that most of Hansem’s staff is fluent in English and also experts in their own trade, from linguistics to engineering and management. The cherry on top is that my days are constantly filled with stories of enriching cultural exchanges. Quite a number of Hansem’s employees are actually from places from around the world, such as America, Europe, and Asia; plus, a major part of the Korean native staff has actually spent a good amount of time working or studying overseas.
As for the leadership, I still recall being greeted on my first day by the company’s CEO, who told me, “Our staff is a valuable asset for our company. You now have also become a valuable asset to us. I hope you enjoy our company and help give us your best.” I think this statement perfectly describes one of the common characteristics I found at every level of Hansem’s management, whether it’s at the headquarters or branch offices – a human-centric and sustainable approach to business and development. I believe this is the secret ingredient that has kept Hansem and its stakeholders successful over the years.
Looking back at my first encounter with the company, I remember being impressed by Hansem’s status as a leading LSP from South Korea and I liked the idea that Hansem goes “beyond translations.” Due to my background and previous years of work as a translator and interpreter, this appealed to me right off the bat.
At Hansem Vietnam, I wore quite a few different caps. Besides Vietnamese translations, I worked in project management, quality assurance, and resource management. I also coordinated linguists and visitors from other countries in South East Asia visiting or working on projects in Burmese, Thai, or Indonesian.
Nowadays, a major part of my daily routine involves translation project management for overseas clients while finding ways to create and optimize our work processes. As a computer programming enthusiast, I was inspired greatly by the brilliant translation engineers at Hansem that I get to work with on a daily basis. I am making baby steps into programming languages, hoping to help team members with automating repetitive tasks as much as possible. I believe the future is in the consistent and efficient embracing of change and innovation, which is also at the core of Hansem and its culture. Indeed, as tasks may require, teams at Hansem can “re-form” or “re-organize” so fast at times that one would find the floors swiftly changed overnight. This is an essential edge in the industry’s climate of swift changes, especially now with non-stop breakthroughs in technologies like AI.
On a personal note, I have enjoyed my time in Korea and Suwon. Specifically, it has been a great relief from the daily heavy traffic dance with motorbikes in the bustling streets of Saigon. Even though I miss my Vespa sometimes, I find it much more rewarding to be on a bicycle, especially when Korea’s roads are covered in a gorgeous blankets of spring cherry blossoms or the golden shade of autumn. My hobby is photography and living in Korea has been a wonderful opportunity for me to capture the country’s beautiful landscape during different seasons.