Transforming Vietnam’s Dairy Industry: A Long Legacy of Vinamilk CEO Mai Kieu Lien


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Few individuals in the ever-changing realm of corporate leadership are as well-known as Vinamilk CEO Mai Kieu Lien. With a career spanning over 46 years, including three impactful decades at the helm of Vinamilk, Mai Kieu Lien is a visionary leader who has not only transformed the company into Vietnam’s largest dairy producer but also elevated its global standing. Vinamilk, a powerhouse in the dairy industry, owes much of its success to the strategic guidance of Mai Kieu Lien. Throughout her tenure as CEO, Lien has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to innovation and a fearless approach to change. Her leadership has not only steered Vinamilk through challenges but has also significantly contributed to the dairy industry’s development in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Mai Kieu Lien, a visionary Vietnamese businesswoman, was born in Paris, France, on September 1, 1953. She is currently the CEO of Vinamilk. Her incredible journey combines creative thinking, transformative leadership, and a commitment to the dairy sector. Lien’s career started with studies in the Soviet Union, where she graduated in 1976 with a degree in meat and milk processing. She then moved back to Vietnam to work for Vinamilk, where she excelled as a leader and engineer. Ever since, she has been instrumental in the modernization of the company, leading its growth into one of the most profitable and well-known brands in Vietnam and around the world. She was a forerunner from the beginning, having started a career that would redefine corporate leadership in Vietnam when she entered the business world.

Leadership Role at Vinamilk

After taking on several positions, Lien was appointed director of Vinamilk in 1992 and continues to serve in that capacity. In addition to making Vinamilk the biggest dairy company in Vietnam, her visionary leadership has elevated her to the status of one of the most well-known businesspeople in the nation. Her influence extends beyond the company’s borders, making her a notable figure in Vietnam’s economic landscape. As of 2012, she secured the 60th position among the wealthiest individuals in Vietnam, a testament to her successful leadership and strategic contributions to Vinamilk. Mai Kieu Lien’s enduring commitment to excellence and her multifaceted impact on both Vinamilk and the broader business community underscore her significance as a key player in the country’s corporate and economic success.

Transformative Leadership and Innovative Approach

Mai Kieu Lien’s 46-year tenure at Vinamilk, which includes three years as CEO, demonstrates her adaptability and transformative leadership. Despite Vinamilk’s established presence in the dairy industry, Lien emphasizes the importance of innovation for long-term success. Her visionary leadership has propelled Vinamilk to prominence in the global dairy market while also establishing a benchmark for industry development in Vietnam. Vinamilk has thrived under her leadership, demonstrating Lien’s visionary approach. Her leadership philosophy is based on her belief in the importance of creativity as the lifeblood of Vinamilk. In her 2022 message to employees, Lien emphasized the importance of fostering long-term staff relationships, emphasizing the human element in driving organizational success. Having established Vinamilk as a leader in organizational excellence in the Vietnamese business landscape, Lien has fostered a culture that promotes creativity and interpersonal relationships.

Navigating Dairy Industry Challenges and Overseas Expansion

Mai Kieu Lien, the leader of Vietnam’s dairy industry, believes that local businesses must improve to compete, even with lower taxes from new trade deals. She wants two things: government assistance to make things easier for local businesses, and new ideas to produce really good dairy products. She wants Vietnam’s dairy industry to be successful on a global scale while also protecting the environment. She also understands that high-interest rates and a lack of funds make it difficult for Vietnamese businesses to expand into other countries. However, she believes that building a strong brand can benefit businesses in the global market. She believes it is critical to be financially savvy and deal with money issues effectively. dealing with financial issues and outperforming competitors, she believes that a strong brand can help businesses expand into new markets. Mai Kieu Lien’s strategy focuses on building a strong brand and managing money wisely to help Vietnamese businesses expand internationally.

Dynamics of the Consumer Goods Industry in Vietnam

When talking about domestic consumer goods, Lien takes rising incomes and urbanization into account. She highlights how important it is for companies to have a localized pricing strategy in a market where multinational corporations dominate. Mai Kieu Lien also emphasizes how important it is to modify product offerings to conform to changing consumer preferences and lifestyle shifts. Lien highlights that businesses must remain flexible and sensitive to market dynamics, as Vietnam’s consumer goods sector is growing quickly due to the country’s growing middle class and shifting consumption habits. Global competition means businesses must understand the subtleties of the local market to tailor their strategies accordingly and navigate the challenges posed.

Vision and Mission of Vinamilk

Vinamilk’s success is based on Mai Kieu Lien’s carefully crafted vision and values. Mai Kieu Lien’s vision for Vinamilk goes beyond typical corporate objectives. In the food and beverage sector, it hopes to establish itself as a world-class brand, with innovation being a key component in reaching this high goal. Vinamilk states that the goal is to provide the community with essential nutrition while treating them with dignity, love, and accountability. Mai Kieu Lien’s leadership has instilled these values, fostering a corporate culture that not only prioritizes financial success but also places a strong emphasis on social responsibility and customer well-being.

Global Recognition and Achievements

Lien’s leadership has taken Vinamilk to a global level despite obstacles. Vinamilk, the dairy brand with the most potential worldwide, is now regarded as the 36th largest dairy company in the world due to its recent increase in value. This achievement highlights Lien’s strategic vision for the company and speaks volumes about Vinamilk’s market presence. Vinamilk’s dedication to quality and ethical business practices is evident in its multiple awards for sustainability in 2023 and its ranking as the sixth most valuable dairy brand globally in 2022. Vinamilk has flourished under Lien’s direction, demonstrating the power of its brand and its aptitude for negotiating the intricacies of the international dairy market.

Recognition and Awards

Vinamilk, the company that Mai Kieu Lien leads, has received numerous awards demonstrating its success. Mrs. Lien received numerous awards for her outstanding leadership, including the Forbes Vietnam Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes her thirty years of leading Vinamilk. In 2013, Corporate Governance Asia named her Asia’s Best CEO in the “investor relations” category, making her the first Vietnamese to receive the award. These awards demonstrate Vinamilk’s importance in the industry, as it is recognized for its excellent work and Mrs. Lien’s expertise. Mrs. Lien is concerned about corporate social responsibility (CSR), which means she wants to do good things outside of the company. Vinamilk also received awards for this, demonstrating its commitment to improving the world.


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