Grab appoints former Unilever executive to take driver’s seat in Vietnam operations

Grab announced the appointment of Nguyen Thai Hai Van as managing director in Vietnam. She will take the lead in one of the most important markets for the company.

According to a media statement, Nguyen spent 17 years at Unilever in Vietnam, most recently as vice president of its beauty and personal care division. She also handled the firm’s media strategy.

In her new role, Nguyen will oversee business strategy and operations across all of Grab’s businesses in Vietnam as the company looks to strengthen its super-app proposition in the country.

Outgoing country head Jerry Lim will return home to a Singapore-based role as regional head of customer experience. Lim will lead Grab’s customer experience teams across eight Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, to place a greater focus on customer self-service, automation, and AI.

During his three years in Vietnam, Lim was credited with driving Grab’s expansion from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 2014 to its current operational footprint that covers 43 cities. He also oversaw GrabFood’s launch in Vietnam in 2018.

In August, Grab announced an additional investment of US$500 million for Vietnam over the next five years. Grab has been expanding aggressively across verticals in the country and has cultivated ties with government stakeholders through various transport and social projects.

Nguyen’s appointment marks a major restructuring for Grab in Vietnam as it enters the next phase of growth. The company was entangled in a lengthy 18-month lawsuit with Vinasun, one of Vietnam’s biggest taxi firms. It is also at the center of constant opposition from the country’s existing taxi industry.

Notably, Gojek’s subsidiary in the country, GoViet, has not appointed a CEO following the departure of Christy Trang Le back in September. Local competitor Be’s CEO also resigned last month.

Stakeholders in Vietnam’s ride-hailing industry are waiting for the government to release a decree on transportation businesses after three years of debate on new regulations. This could subject ride-hailing companies that operate in the country to stricter requirements.

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