"I never mix my
professional life
and home"

She Moves Us: Interview with PT Dang, Head of Development Footwear

August 23, 2022

She Moves Us: Interview with PT Dang, Head of Development Footwear

August 23, 2022

As part of our SHE MOVES US platform, we spoke with PT Dang, Head of Development Footwear at PUMA. PT is based in Vietnam. Here she talks about her career path, role models and leadership qualities.

PT used to be a teacher in primary school, where the students were always very nice to her. She enjoyed passing her knowledge on to others.

Ten years later, PT felt she needed to do something else, things were changing in the school environment and she started to feel the job was not challenging her enough anymore.

Business started to boom in Vietnam; therefore, she decided to apply to big companies even though “It had nothing to do with my career path until then. I thought maybe I could fit in an international company thanks to the foreign languages I had learned”. PT started working for a Korean joint -venture factory.

When PT started in the factory, she was a little taken aback at first. Things were very different from the ways she was used to. “People would talk in a less restrictive way to their peers and I thought that was odd. I even asked myself if I had taken the wrong job”. After a little while though, she knew she had made the right decision. She discovered how much potential she had. “I was strong, I could adapt very fast and I was good at my job. Thanks to my job as a teacher, I was also very patient with everyone, myself included, which turned out to be helpful in my new career path”.

After a while, PT felt she was ready for another challenge and decided to look for a bigger company to work for. “That’s how I started working for a sports brand. I straight away wanted to work my way up the ladder even though I could see a lot of obstacles ahead of me. I told myself not to be scared and to go for it. It was fine by me to start at the bottom and to work my way up. My boss at the time, a woman, liked me because of my hard work. I guess it paid off”.

Role models

PT has two role models in her life she says: her mother and one of her previous bosses. “When I was at the beginning of my career in my previous company, I looked at my boss, wondering how a woman could get such a high position. At the time, it wasn’t common at all. She was a powerful woman; she was very strong-willed. I still look up to her. She taught me a lot. She had a lot of men working in her team, it was impressive to me to see. I have a lot of respect for her. Through her, I could see that women are not powerless. We are not less than men as we were told when I grew up”.

Today, PT has a team of her own to manage of which twelve are women. “They are strong and very good at what they do. I wish and I believe one of them will be in a position of leadership in the near future. The men in my team respect their women counterparts. We work as a team together, each of us supports the other”.

PT’s mother is a city girl. She had to give up her life style because of the economic crisis in the country. “She left the city to work on a farm. It was very hard work but she didn’t mind as long as she was happy and she could put food on the table for her family. She did whatever was needed to make sure her children were alright. I became a hard worker because I wanted to be like my mum”.

My opinion is also valid

Before, when PT would enter a room full of men, she felt like she was no one, she says. In one of the previous organizations she worked for, “We had the men sit in a circle while they gave me a chair to stay in the back. They kept on talking about the different projects we had without asking me to participate. They were giving a lot of suggestions and they seemed very confident”. Eventually, PT was asked to say what she thought and she did her very best to show her counterparts she also had a voice and interesting ideas that should be taken into account. “My opinion is also valid. If I didn’t believe I was good enough to put my opinion out there for them to hear, I would still be no one. I had to push to be heard. I tried little by little to raise my voice. I let them know every time I had a chance that I was here. After a while, I got included”. Since then, when she wants to say something: “I speak up! We are peers, we are equals, we need each other—men and women. We have to make space for each other”.

A funny thing happened to me recently. I asked the people I was interviewing if they minded having a woman as their boss. Some of them said they wanted a man as their superior. I replied that if you are lucky enough for PUMA to choose you, you will work with a mixed team and a woman as your boss. Some of them thought about it again and all of a sudden, they were fine with it”.

The dreams you have

PT felt that when she was younger, she was all over the place—she had so many dreams she wanted to accomplish. “Young people are looking for everything everywhere, they jump from company to company. Now that I’m older, I’m more specific about my choices and I choose what I want wisely. I know clearly what I’m capable of to reach my goals. When you are young you dream a lot but you don’t know how to make it happen”.

The value you have 

She tells her nephew, her niece and her team that if she works for a company or for someone it’s because she can find her own values in the organization or in that person. It also important to her that she feels recognized. “I want to be valued for my work. Being valued is a key point for me to stay in a company. When I feel valued, I’m happy. I stayed for 18 years in a company and I realized they didn’t value me. It took me a lot of courage to make a change but it’s one of the best decisions I made. At the same time, if you don’t stay for some time in a company, you won’t see your own capabilities and others might not see them either”.

PT tries to make sure she shows her appreciation towards the members of her team. She wants her team to come to work and get a positive experience out of it, she says.

I would encourage them during a meeting to give their own point of view, I listen to them and I hope it makes them feel more confident about themselves. In some old management approaches, instead of giving your opinion, you’re told to go to your boss and listen to what he has to say. Having one person taking all the credit and being the only one seen as capable isn’t getting anyone anywhere”.

PT tells the new members she hires to be confident and to speak up, wrong or right. She wants them to raise their voice first and feel comfortable around the rest of the team.

We’re 17 people in my team and I understand you might feel small. I will tell my team about my beginnings in the footwear industry so they can relate and realize I also had to overcome my fears. Hopefully it helps them find confidence.”

PT encourages each one of them to do the best they can. “If you contribute to the team work and you do your utter best, I think that’s already a big step. That’s how I coach my team. I want to make sure I’m a good leader but also be a good example to them, maybe even a role model”.

Do it a hundred percent!

PT does her best to balance her life properly between her career and her private life. When she works, she commits a hundred percent to her job, she says. Once she’s done with work, “I relax a hundred percent! I have a close group of friends and we have the same hobbies; we care about the same things so we meet up a lot. I never mix my professional life and home”.

You can do it

PT would like others to know her story so they can see that anyone who wants can built and achieve their dreams, she says. “I want them to realize as well that dreams can change and it is alright. Sometimes the things you wish for are also out of your hands. Every few years I review my dream. I want them to know they don’t have to be afraid and to trust themselves. Don’t let anybody walk over you. Make sure you see others as equal and that they see you as an equal”.

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