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Rouse in Profile: Khanh Nguyen

Published on 01 Aug 2023 | 4 minute read
It’s why people climb mountains

Khanh is a Senior Associate in our Ho Chi Minh City office.  He has experience in all aspects of Intellectual Property, but now focuses primarily on dispute resolution.

When asked why he climbed mountains, the legendary British mountaineer George Herbert Mallory paused, then famously replied “because they are there”.  His reply is probably now better known than he is, so much so it has become almost a cliché.  It was an interesting response, but a cryptic one: the mountains are always there, but not everyone wants to climb them.  Those who do are driven by an innate curiosity, a desire to explore and to know. Khanh was not only working at Rouse in a job he enjoyed when he decided to resign to undertake further study in Korea, he had also been married for just a few years.  When asked what made him take this step, his answer is in essence, much like Mallory’s. It was there, a challenge, something to be explored and learnt from - and he had the necessary curiosity and drive to make it happen. His story is an interesting one.


He grew up in a small village in the Mekong Delta, geographically about 250km south of Ho Chi Minh City, but in other ways a world away.  When he was growing up the village was not on the electricity grid and the house was lit by oil lamps.  Later, they had electricity that was generated in the village and every couple of weeks they would take the batteries into the village to be recharged. Eventually, the government came to the village and installed electricity poles in 1998. It was a farming community: in front of the house there was a river and behind it, rice fields.  Life was simple, but everyone lived the same way, so it wasn’t a problem – in fact Khanh had a very happy childhood and has retained close links with both his family and the village. 


Like most people in rural Vietnam at the time, education was not a priority for Khanh’s father’s family.  The priority was survival: everyone in the family needed to work as soon as they could.  Khanh’s father was the oldest in a large family and had to leave school at the end of second grade and start working on the farm.   Neither of Khanh’s parents had a lot of education, but he says they led by example and have taught him some of the most important lessons in life. His mother, in particular, really focused on his education – she was convinced that he would have a much better future if he didn’t simply stay and work on the farm.  This was unusual – farmers require a lot of manual labour and most people in the village wanted their children to be there to help out as soon as they were old enough.


There was no kindergarten in the village and by the time Khanh was about four he was bored at home and begging to be allowed to go to school.  Although the entrance age was six, his mother somehow persuaded the teacher to accept Khanh – he probably thought that a four-year old wouldn’t last long.  But Khanh did last and when he got to grade five there was a problem.  He was far too young to go up to grade six.  So he spent three years in grade five.  At that point, his mother decided that he should go to a better school, so he went to live with his aunt in Rach Gia, the capital of the province.


So in grade six, at the age of 11, he left home.  It was a difficult time and he was homesick.  But there were compensations – his aunt’s husband worked in IT and Khanh started to learn computer skills from him, even how to code.  In the process of learning about computers, he started to learn English, and his English really started to improve when he watched various television series such as Friends and Sabrina The Teenage Witch. His aunt and uncle both told him that learning English would be good for his future.


During high school, Khanh read widely – he was curious about the world, other cultures, different people, and he read everything he could lay his hands on, both fiction and non-fiction.  Certainly knowing English opened up a lot of content.  At some stage, probably as result of his extensive reading, he started to think that he might study Law – initially thinking he could perhaps become a government official and be able to help people in the country.  He was admitted to law school at the University of Economics and Law in Ho Chi Minh City. He loved every minute of university life – he had a great group of friends, and he met his future wife, who at the time was studying business administration.  One of the highlights of his student days was doing legal aid work, going out to rural areas, helping people with their legal problems and telling them about new laws.  He could relate to them because he was one of them, and they could relate to him.


At law school he won a scholarship that had been established by various law firms and included internships.  He says he was not lucky enough to get an internship with Rouse, but he met a Rouse employee at a legal event and summoned up the courage to say that he was interested in IP and would really like to join Rouse. As luck would have it, there was a vacancy at the time, he applied and was appointed.  This was in 2014.  He graduated in August that year and started working for Rouse in September.

Then in 2020, he decided to resign from Rouse in order to study for a JD degree in Korea. He did well, obtained his JD degree, and then travelled to the US to sit for the U.S. bar exam in Washington D.C. which he passed at the first attempt.  He had obviously studied hard, but says that study wasn’t the hardest part – the hardest part was being away from his wife, although she had been fully supportive of his decision to go to Korea. 


Looking back on his progress so far, Khanh says he has taken chances and made the most of opportunities without thinking too much about the consequences.  It’s an approach that has served him well so far, and no doubt will continue to do so.  He will always be driven by an inner curiosity to explore and to learn; it’s just the way he is.

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Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100
Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100