The son of a high-flying electricity director, Nguyen Phuc Cuong was born to work in the power industry. But despite his dad’s connections, it is the 30-year-old’s hard work that has propelled him to US success as one of the leading lights on global power supply. To Nam reports.
A combination of strong connections, good luck and outstanding natural talent has led to the spectacular rise of Nguyen Phuc Cuong, a postgraduate of the prestigious Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago and a man swiftly becoming a global power supply expert of some renown.
Cuong, hailing from the south of the northern province of Ha Giang, has managed to do groundbreaking work in the distribution and stable programming of smart grids and power systems, which use information technology to efficiently distribute electricity to where it is needed, when it is needed.
In January 2011, the 30-year-old defended his thesis at IIT and received the institute’s highest score, along with a congratulation letter and a certificate of honour from the director of the institute.
Four months later, Cuong joined the software application engineering division of GE Energy, one of the world’s top electrical companies.
Cuong is the eldest son of Nguyen Phuc Vinh, ex-director of the Ha Giang Electric Company and now president and CEO of Northern Electricity Corporations at Viet Nam Electricity (EVN). It is said that Cuong’s personality takes after his father, who was always patient and extremely driven to succeed.
Vinh confides that he had little time to spend with his son when he was growing up, but he was quick to identify the potential the young boy showed for working in a scientific field. When Cuong was in the ninth grade, his influential father sent him to Ha Noi to study under a famous teacher at the High School for Gifted Students, an affiliate of Ha Noi National University of Education.
The dean of the school, Nguyen Duc Hoang, PhD, still remembers his special student: “Cuong arrived at the school from a far-away province.
His background knowledge at the beginning was nowhere near that of his fellow students here in Ha Noi at the time. However, he quickly impressed me with his incredible effort to get up to speed and eventually surpass his peers at the school.”
After graduation, Cuong passed the entrance university exams with a high score and in 1998 started a Power System Engineering degree at the Ha Noi University of Science and Technology.
At the age of 22, Cuong finished his bachelor’s degree and applied to work at EVN. Nine months later, he received a scholarship, moved to study at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) and saw his life change forever.
A successful academic career in the US beckoned. Cuong’s results at SIUC were so outstanding that he gained top recognition in the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities&Colleges in 2007.
Vinh once said, “Behind every great man there stands a woman.” The woman in this case is Lan, Cuong’s mother, who was a beauty queen in Ha Giang. She has always supported her son along his challenging academic path. He has also been inspired by the love of a woman, Tam, who became his wife.
Tam graduated from the University of Foreign Trade, Ha Noi, later taking a doctorate and moving to the US with her husband.
The family background certainly affected his life. The love and support of his mother and grandmothers made him loyal and unyielding, while his father’s connections helped him progress in his field. However, he has achieved what he has mostly through extremely hard work and dedication. He stands as an inspiration to young Vietnamese people as living proof that hard work can bring reward. — VNS