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I'm back! Back to consulting and I'm excited!

In 2022 I was approached by VinFast, a Vietnamese startup manufacturer of electric vehicles (EVs). They offered me to move to Hanoi and support their global launch. With a target of launching in the US, Canada, Europe, and the home market of Vietnam, it was an offer I could scant refuse. This international role was right up my alley. I decided to take a break from consulting and pursue this new adventure halfway around the globe. So I packed my suitcases and flew off two weeks after receiving the offer.


Consulting had perfectly prepared me to negotiate the constant pivot on topics and priorities that I experienced at VinFast.


My initial role within VinFast was Chairman Advisor, Sales & Marketing, to the company's founder and Vietnam's wealthiest man, Pham Nhat Vuong. I would advise him on a broad range of topics across the auto industry. Later I would serve as VinFast's CMO and then, in my final month, I would drive the export strategy for e-buses, e-scooters, e-bikes, as well as vehicle accessories and the personal merchandise collection. So many topics. So much redirection. So little time.

Consulting had perfectly prepared me to negotiate the constant pivot on topics and priorities that I experienced at VinFast.

VinFast was notoriously ..... fast, as the name might imply. Speed is the KPI by which all is measured within the organization and its parent company VinGroup. I had never experienced anything quite like this. There was occasional urgency in my previous employers - Mercedes-Benz, Volvo Cars, and Fiat Chrysler Automotive (now Stellantis) - but none of them had the same sustained maelstrom of activity, in speed or scope, as VinFast.

Had I transitioned directly from my previous full time employer, Volvo Cars, directly into VinFast, I doubt I could have been successful. The environment in startups is vastly different and, in this case, the startup environment was "turbo-charged".

In fact, it was 20 months of full time consulting that had prepared me for the role and the pace at VinFast. I had consulted with a variety of international clients, all related directly or tangentially with the automotive industry. Each had their own requirements, pace, and way of working. This was a perfect training ground for learning the pivot, jumping subjects, setting priorities, and custom-tailoring solutions for unique customers.

Having since left VinFast, I explored my next steps for several months. I weighed out full time employment versus consulting. I spoke with hundreds of people, sent and received hundreds of e-mails, spent hours researching. Finally, I came to the conclusion that a return to consulting was the perfect role for me, a destiny, if you will.

As I wrote at the start of this piece, I'm back and I'm excited. With a stimulating new portfolio of international clients in the United States, Vietnam, Middle East, and Europe, I am convinced I took the right decision. Now I roll up my sleeves and prepare to serve my clients with top quality work and dedication. Let's do this!

John Jörn Stech

Principal / Founder

Shiftgate Consulting LLC

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