What Drives Her: Van Anh Nguyen Propels VinFast as a Global Car Maker

Van Anh Nguyen is the CEO of VinFast North America, charged with bringing this Vietnamese car company to realize its global vision.

Van Ahn Nguyen With The Vinfast Vf9
Van Ahn Nguyen with the Vinfast VF9. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Challenging the automotive world with VinFast’s global vision.

When shovels were wedged into the dirt at VinFast‘s North Carolina construction site recently, it signified more than just the breaking of ground for VinFast’s newest factory where its electric cars will be built. It was also a metaphor for the company’s goal of being an integral part of the North American automotive market, building its business from the ground up. 

At the center of the line of elected officials and dignitaries in front of large VinFast sign, each with a bow-adorned shovel, was Van Ahn Nguyen, chief operating officer of VinFast North America.

New to the US but not to running a corporation, Van Ahn is leading the charge to bring Vietnam into the modern global marketplace by fast tracking VinFast in the highly lucrative and competitive North American auto market. Behind the scenes, she has been laying the groundwork over the past three years, guiding a team building its operations in the Tar Heel state from scratch, an effort that will bring 7,800 jobs to North Carolina by 2028.

Van Ahn sees herself as a coach and team player: selecting candidates, building teams, and helping them succeed.“I love working with our teams,” Van Anh said. “We are here, all sharing the same vision, the same dream.”

Related: VinFast VF 8 First Drive: You’ve Never Seen an SUV Like This 

Vinfast Ground Breaking

VinFast’s assembly plant ground breaking. Photo: VinFast

Learning a New Business, Bumps and All

The learning curve in North America has been steep so far for the Vietnamese automaker. The company has changed its sales model, tinkered with pricing and is building dealerships; there are 13 so far in California and three more announced, somewhat shy of the more than two dozen the company had hoped to open in 2023.

In addition to a slower roll-out than the company had hoped, initial reviews of the VF8 SUV were less than glowing; some reviewers experienced software bugs or were critical of VinFast’s product decisions. Other reviews, however, lauded the freshman effort and ambition, world-class Pininfarina design and partnerships with established car makers like BMW for internal components. 

Van Ahn takes it as a learning opportunity. “Some of the feedback we received in the U.S. has also allowed us to implement improvements to our vehicle software. As we continue to work relentlessly to bring customers the best quality and outstanding service, we always welcome user feedback,” she said. 

The a new manufacturing plant will be an important step toward establishing VinFast as a force in the US auto market; production in North Carolina is scheduled to start in 2025.

Related: The Messy State of Electric Car Charging: What You Need to Know

Van Ahn Nguyen Of Vinfast

Van Ahn Nguyen of VinFast. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Starting from Scratch is Her Thing

Vietnam is the fastest-growing economy in Asia. Born in the postwar era, Van Anh grew up witnessing rapid change and growth all around her. One of four children to two working parents, Van Anh said her parents always encouraged their children to pursue an education and supported them to “go higher, go further.”

Van Anh got her bachelor’s degree at Hanoi National University, followed by a master’s degree in human resource management through online courses at Akamai University. Her first job straight out of college was at the beer company Heineken. Starting out as a project assistant, Van Anh rose through the ranks as the company established the Hatay Brewery in Vietnam.

Related: Chevy’s Jennifer Kraska Inspires the New Auto Designer’s Generation

The Vinfastvf9 That Van Ahn Nguyen Is Helping To Bring To The Us

The VinfastVF9 that Van Ahn Nguyen is helping to bring to the US. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Creating a Car Company for Vietnam

Van Anh accumulated years of experience in management at Heineken, Navigos Group, and other entities. But surprisingly, the automotive industry was not part of the mix, for Van Ahn or VinGroup. In fact, Van Anh was among the many people who raised an eyebrow when VinFast first launched.

“Initially, I did not believe it. How could Vietnam do this?” she said.

However, Van Anh always had a love for cars. When she met with the VinGroup chairman, she immediately connected with his dream: creating a sustainable car company for Vietnam that reaches a global scale. The vision was so compelling that she immediately accepted a position as Standing Deputy CEO in Vietnam.

Related: 13 of Our Favorite Electric Cars, Hybrids, and PHEVs 

Van Anh Wants Her Daughters to Be Daring, Too

For three years, Van Anh worked in California on VinFast’s plans, part of which was to build a manufacturing plant. helped establish the VinFast manufacturing plant in Vietnam. When it was time to push beyond the local market, she moved to North Carolina and became the CEO of VinFast USA. Last year, she started working in the Canadian market as well.

Her list of responsibilities only continues to grow, especially as the mom of two daughters.

“They see that Mom is working every day. I am trying to instill in them, number one, to follow your dreams and passions,” Van Anh said.

Van Anh is inspired by her own mother, who she describes as tough, independent, and the best supporter. Despite saying her mother “never stops,” she is also the first one to tell Van Anh to slow down.

“Some days she says, ‘Van Anh, maybe you should work less. You work so hard.’ But I tell her, “I love my work, and I really enjoy it,” Van Anh said.

Van Anh wants to pass on her mother’s confidence and values to ensure her daughters lead passionate, daring lives. She hopes that by following their passions, their hard work and dedication will come with as much joy as it does for herself.

Van Ahn Nguyen Welcomes Guests To The First Us Drive Of The Vinfast Vf8

Van Ahn Nguyen welcomes guests to the first US drive of the Vinfast VF8. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Pioneering Woman Who Rides in Style

In addition to being a leader and role model for her team and for her daughters, Van Anh Nguyen is a shining example of what VinFast stands for. In Vietnamese, VinFast is an acronym for Vietnamese Style, Safety, Creativity, and Pioneering.

These are values that Van Anh believes appeal to women and drivers as well, especially when it comes to style. The VF9 is a stylish three-row SUV laden with technology. According to Van Anh, the VF9 has received many reservations, many of whom are women.

“In Vietnam, women tend to make a lot of the decisions, including buying the car,” Van Anh said.

While VinFast’s name and brand is new, it is important to note that the company drew on many partnerships to develop its vehicles. Those include BMW, which provided many components of the vehicle. It’s not a surprising partnership; before for VinFast, Van Anh’s favorite car was a BMW 5 Series. Now that the VF9 has luxe components from VinFast and the BMW 5 Series, she can enjoy the best of both worlds.

“The driving experience is so smooth, so simple. You are driving a great and beautifully crafted product with a lot of technology,” Van Anh said.

This design strategy is also how VinFast intends to reach production so swiftly. Van Anh Nguyen is extremely proud of the VF8 and VF9. She is eager to tell the world that VinFast is here, and they are ready.

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Eden is a freelance writer and editor. She is based in Austin, Texas where she is pursuing a bachelor's... More about Eden Shamy