Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2008 (Revised January 2011)

Lawrence Trinh: Venturing to Vietnam

by Joshua D. Margolis and Rachel Gordon


Should Lawrence Trinh pursue his aspiration of working in Vietnam—and if so, what set of principles and practices should he adopt if he encounters corruption? These are questions that reverberate for many students who wish to work in emerging markets and other contexts that pose stiff ethical challenges. Trinh seeks to combine his background in financial services with his desire to contribute to Vietnam's economic development, and he has to decide among four job offers with investment firms. But it is a complicated decision. First, none of the job offers fit his selection criteria perfectly. Second, despite growing reforms, Vietnam is still ranked poorly on indices of corruption. Third, Trinh's father (who fled Vietnam following the war) frowns upon doing anything that could contribute to the communist regime. Fourth, Trinh's girlfriend is about to start her next stage of medical training in the United States, which means that pursuing his aspiration now will separate them. All of these considerations raise three questions: (1) Is the timing right for Trinh to embark on his personal mission of contributing to the well-being of Vietnam? (2) Which job offer should he accept? (3) What set of principles and practices should he adopt that will enable him to remain true to his values and sustain his capacity to be a true agent of change, yet not undermine his ability to succeed as an investor?

Keywords: Developing Countries and Economies; Ethics; Investment; Leadership Development; Emerging Markets; Personal Development and Career; Welfare or Wellbeing; Financial Services Industry;


Margolis, Joshua D., and Rachel Gordon. "Lawrence Trinh: Venturing to Vietnam." Harvard Business School Case 409-017, October 2008. (Revised January 2011.)