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Meet Mr. Luc: Thinker, dreamer, believer

Join Harper’s Bazaar to explore a working day of Mr. Luc Nhon Ly, CEO of Sun Life Vietnam.

5:30AM — Noon

While most of the city dreams, Mr. Luc Nhon Ly, CEO of Sun Life Vietnam, laces his running shoes. You can find him jogging along the tree-lined path around Han Thuyen park. This is his office. This is where he does his best thinking. “This is where your mind unravels the challenges you went to sleep with the night before,” he says.

“Start with a light breakfast, it gives you just enough energy without slowing you down” he says. His is a juice and croissant, a habit he grew up with in French-speaking Montreal, Canada.

He checks his email and messages on the car to his other office.

Like the playmaker in a sports team, he brings together colleagues for quick meetings. He brings out ideas from people, challenges those ideas, and ultimately, looks to improve them. One after another, Luc necessarily switches gear to adapt to different topics. In strategy sessions, he likes to be precise and straight to the point. Clarity is a rarity in this age of jargons. In brainstorming sessions with other team members, he takes the role of a moderator, facilitating discussions and creative ideas. In between, he’s quietly studying proposals. When he’s in his office, his door is always open. Often, he takes up a seat in the communal area where there are no doors.


If he’s not having lunch with partners, he takes time to reflect and find a second wind to the day. Today, he takes a break at a local cafe and gallery.

Luc loves art. That might seem weird for someone with an actuarial background (financial professionals who specialize in risk assessment). It wouldn’t be, however, if you had the chance to visit his home or any of his previous projects like nest in Bitexco or Landmark 81, or Khit in the Secretariat in Myanmar.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun,” Luc says, quoting Einstein.

To him, art and creativity are not frivolous pursuits. They are expressions of deliberate thoughts. And he wields them great personal satisfaction and professional success.

Afternoon — Evening

After lunch, it’s about finding inspiration, connecting with people, staying inspired, and staying hungry, so to speak. A few one-on-one discussions. Phone calls. Emails. The usual.

He leaves the office a bit early to visit the site of his next big project: A client experience concept space.

In traffic, he talks about his vision of a creative business, seeing it as a necessary evolution of enduring organizations. After all, after an organization serves the basic needs of its stakeholders, it must satisfy a higher calling. He believes creativity is the key to unlocking the future.

He arrives at home. His body relaxes a bit. But his mind is still working. The gears are spinning. Preparing for the next day, planning what you want out of the day, out of each meeting.

“It’s like laying bricks. Each day is a brick. You might not see the results on the day, but look back after a few months or years, you will have built something to be proud of,” he says.

He sinks into his bed, laptop in hand, dreaming up his next big idea.

Source: Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam

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