Michael Tatarski, journalist

In a country where women are expected to put family before a career, Lam Thi Ngoc Hao is well placed to offer advice on how women can do both and successfully. Over the course of 25 years at KPMG Vietnam, Hao has climbed the career ladder, working her way up from the first rung of audit assistant to her current management post of head of clients and markets.

‘You don’t need to choose between family and work,’ she points out. ‘There are only certain periods when you’ll need to pay more attention to family, and that will pass. It is a challenge, but ask for help – from your spouse, from family, from colleagues – to get through that period, and then you’ll be able to achieve what you want.’

‘I would like to inspire young women who have a dream that is difficult to achieve’

Hao, who has two adult children, advises women to listen to their heart and pursue what they themselves would like to do and achieve. ‘Don’t limit yourself based on comments from people around you. Just believe in yourself and be confident, and then go with it.’

Her own professional success is a demonstration that women can indeed achieve their career dreams while being the traditional ‘nội tướng’ – general of the interior – at home.

‘I would like to inspire the confidence of young women who have a dream that is difficult to achieve,’ Hao says. ‘Go for it, and ask for support when you need it. You have the right to that, so be confident.’



Consulting partner, and head of clients and markets, KPMG Vietnam


From audit assistant to audit partner, KPMG Vietnam

Ground floor

Hao embarked on her own career with KPMG Vietnam in 1998, just four years after the firm had opened its first office in the country. Like any new graduate, she started out as an audit assistant in a small team of 50 people, where she worked on audit assignments and supported other non-audit teams.

‘I worked on deals and also recruitment,’ she says. ‘At the time our main purpose was to provide just audit and tax services to international clients. But now we provide a wide range of services similar to other KPMG member firms in our global network.’

Hao’s career has grown alongside the company. Today, she is a partner and head of clients and markets. Her previous role was as head of private business services. Among her other achievements, she designed and led a KPMG initiative to enable Vietnamese businesses to review their growth strategy and understand fundraising processes and financial management.

‘We work on a lot of issues for private businesses,’ she explains. ‘Whether a company wants to build a succession plan to transfer to the next generation, is looking for fundraising to grow, or needs professional directors to come in to manage the business for expansion – that’s what we focus on.’

‘There are a lot of opportunities for anyone who wants to develop quickly’


One of the biggest current challenges in the audit sector is the ongoing digital transformation of business, which has dramatically changed how both KPMG and its clients operate.

‘Originally, auditors carried very heavy paper files,’ Hao says. ‘Now, everything is on one platform, so we can connect with e-audit files, and client data is protected.

‘From the client standpoint, we now have a large consulting team. We help clients with the implementation of large-scale enterprise resource planning systems as well as smaller, more specialised client service programmes.’

This digital shift comes within the context of rapid economic growth in Vietnam, spurred on by a business boom as foreign direct investment pours in.

‘Vietnam is growing fast, so there are a lot of opportunities for anyone who wants to develop quickly,’ Hao says. ‘There are also a lot of challenges in terms of making sure the regulatory system and infrastructure keep up with how fast businesses are changing.’

KPMG Vietnam


Offices: Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang




Clients, principally in industry

Never stand still

Over her 25-year career at the firm, the precise challenges may have changed, but the need to stay relevant and valuable to the business remains a constant. Hao champions continuous learning and self-improvement

‘Accounting and finance professionals have to keep learning every day because the requirements keep changing,’ she says. ‘Auditing standards change as risks get higher, while keeping up with the speed of evolving technology such as ChatGPT is hard work.’

Underpinning Hao’s own constantly evolving skillset is her professional training. ‘Getting ACCA certification was a compulsory qualification for auditors at KPMG,’ she says – she qualified in 2003. ‘It is a great requirement because it provides a very good foundation for auditors.’

‘Understanding how a business can grow just by looking at financial statements is really exciting’

Her ACCA qualification also offered a springboard for further professional certifications. ‘I took conversion exams to be accredited as a Vietnam CPA, and that was also my entrance to CFA qualification,’ Hao says. ‘It helped my whole career path, not just being an accredited professional, but also being equipped with a very strong knowledge foundation to be able to excel in my job and further develop my career.’

Hao herself remains ever ready to move forward.

‘I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a lot of different clients and industries, which has helped me to link financial statements and business performance,’ she says. ‘I’m able to quickly understand a business’s strengths and weaknesses and how they can grow just by looking at financial statements. That’s really exciting. I think I’m lucky – I chose the thing I like to do, and I still enjoy it.’