Leading tax adviser was once a refugee. Now he gives back.

Nguyen uses his status as a business leader to make a difference.

Helping the disadvantaged is Nam Nguyen’s way of acknowledging the support he received as a refugee 30 years ago.

Nam Nguyen FCPA shrugs off decades of charity and philanthropic work, humbly implying that it is the least he could do.

The former refugee, who moved from Vietnam to Australia in 1986 as an unaccompanied minor with his brother, will never forget the community support he received during those hard times.

“It was very tough,” recalls Nguyen of those early days, which included a stint at an immigration camp in Melbourne. “I had no home and I was too young to understand what led to me becoming a refugee. I got a lot of support from the community, and it’s my turn to replicate what the community did for me by helping others.”

Now the managing director of BDO Consulting Vietnam and a highly respected businessman, Nguyen has been back in his home country for more than 22 years, and during that time has contributed to numerous charitable causes. 

Of all his benevolent work, the time that stands out for Nguyen was the three months he spent volunteering in the early 1990s as a human rights legal assistant with Australian Lawyers for Refugees, a former NGO of the Jesuit Refugee Service. Nguyen worked as an interpreter for Australian lawyers and assisted asylum seekers in Hong Kong refugee camps – just as he had been supported some years earlier. 

He went on to work in Hong Kong for three years in a range of administrative, training and humanitarian relief roles with Community and Family Services International, an NGO sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), before joining the corporate world. 

“That was a long time ago, but it was something I was really proud of,” says Nguyen. “I learnt people and leadership skills from doing community work, and that work experience has helped me become a business leader today.”

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A leading tax adviser and author, whose career has included stints at PwC, KPMG, EY and now BDO, Nguyen has a degree and a master’s from Australian universities. The power of education has inspired him in his efforts to help disadvantaged students, in particular.

Sponsoring some and connecting others with corporate donors and potential employers, Nguyen uses his status as a business leader to make a difference.

“I bring people together,” he explains. “I try to create opportunities that help change people’s lives, and I find that most satisfying.”

“I had no home and I was too young to understand what led to me becoming a refugee.”

His deeds include raising funds to build accommodation for the elderly and orphans; coordinating with corporate donors to give truckloads of consumer goods to charitable groups during festive seasons; and providing scholarships to high school students from poor families.

Nam NguyenNguyen has also written a book on tax, donating all proceeds to the Vietnam Tax Consultants’ Association, a non-profit organisation that promotes a fair tax environment in his country.

With no plans to stop his charitable work, Nguyen urges his accounting peers to follow suit.

“As an accomplished professional now, I always acknowledge that at different stages in my career, there were various people who gave me opportunities to succeed,” he says.

“I would like to repeat what they did as a way of honouring and continuing their legacy of giving back to the community.”

Jesuit Refugee Service

The Jesuit Refugee Service is a global Catholic group that helps and advocates for refugees and other displaced people. Founded in 1980 by the Jesuits, the service’s programs operate in 50 countries, involve about 1400 workers and provide assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and people in detention centres.

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December 2016
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