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Smart Move: Hiep Nguyen '05, '07 MST
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
Hiep Nguyen knew it was time to go home.
The double Falcon (’05 BSA, ’07 MST) was working at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Boston when his father died in 2007. Leaving his mother alone in the family’s home neighborhood of Dorchester was not a viable option. Drawn both by family obligation and business opportunity, Nguyen moved back home and hung out a shingle. His accounting firm opened on Dorchester Ave. in December 2008.
The move quickly yielded positive results.
“Dorchester is the heart of the Vietnamese community in Boston,” says Nguyen, who came to the United States from the Southeast Asian country with his parents and nine siblings when he was 8 years old. “There is a robust business community here, but there was no Vietnamese CPA.”
A steady stream of business and personal clients soon found their way to Nguyen’s door.
“The general attitude among the Vietnamese community – and I think this is true of other cultures as well – is that they want to work with someone who speaks their language,” Nguyen says. “Business has been good. I have been working seven days a week.”
The homecoming has been a boon on the personal side as well.
“I work more hours than I did at PwC, but I have the flexibility I wanted,” Nguyen explains. “My mother doesn’t drive, so if she wants me to get something from the grocery store, I can take a break and help her.”
A proud product of Boston Public Schools, Nguyen ran for Boston City Council last year, hoping to give something back to the city he says provided so much for his family. A typical day during the campaign included greeting riders at various train stations in the morning, a few hectic hours at the office, a nap on the conference room couch at lunchtime, and another appearance in the evening.
“When my family came here, we had nothing,” says Nguyen, adding that all of his brothers and sisters have attended college. “We are grateful that the people of Boston gave us opportunities to get a start and do well for ourselves.”
Nguyen’s work in the community has included various positions at his church – from altar server as a youngster to various roles as an adult – and serving as president of the Vietnamese-American Civic Association, a group that works to help Vietnamese immigrants as they begin their lives in the United States.
Though his bid for Boston City Council ultimately came up short, Nguyen has no regrets. “I was raised to believe that we always have to be grateful and remember the people who helped us. That has always been my attitude.”
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.