With an extensive team residing in the largest city of Vietnam, the Bamboo office in Ho Chi Minh City (HCM) is a bustling, cross-cultural mirror of Bamboo’s Reston headquarters. It is both distinctly Bamboo and Vietnamese at the same time. The office in HCM loves its coffee, loves to wear its Bamboo shirts, and more importantly loves to eat! Give me a few days here, and it will feel just like Virginia. Well, almost.
Traffic in HCM is probably the most astounding difference for me. With transportation based primarily around motorbikes and scooters, the best word that I can give for it is “utter chaos”. Lanes are negligible, horns are for saying hello, and crossing four-lane roads of oncoming traffic is simply a matter of walking slowly through it (just don’t stop until you’re at the other side). I also highly underestimated the role fish sauce plays in Vietnamese cuisine. It can go on everything from spring rolls, soups, vegetables, to fruit.
Culture shock aside, it’s a strange and comforting feeling to sit in a meeting, not knowing a word of what’s going on except for the occasional “PM Central …. “, “….. Task Master”, and the numerous other names of our products that are currently being created and improved. With the ability to work remotely and to collaborate using SharePoint, our two offices can function seamlessly despite our cultural and language differences. Occasionally talking in person requires more hand gestures than words, but opening up Notepad and typing it out usually does the trick.
The Bamboo office in HCM has integrated their love of karaoke and group sports into the Bamboo work culture. Every week, there are two games of soccer and a game of badminton against internal teams or other company groups, reminding me that soccer is probably the most beloved sport everywhere but the US. It seems that Bamboo men play soccer or think about soccer in every moment of spare time. Once the work day is over, the computers are shut off and everybody either congregates for a raucous game of foosball, or for online soccer.
I look forward to spending my remaining time here in Vietnam; I’m sure that it will go by too quickly.