Internet Interview - with Paul Fairhead

A brief explanation of your company and where it sits in the corporate landscape:

A Vietnam-specific investment company that has two main businesses – contraband design (100 per cent) and fashion design and manufacturing for local and export markets. Our label, contraband, is sold throughout Australia and has recently broken into European and US markets. We also manufacture and source for other fashion labels. Big Star entertainment (40 per cent), TV, music, TVCs is the only joint venture company in Vietnam specialising in the development of youth entertainment programs and events. About 60 per cent of Vietnam’s 80 million people are under the age of 30.

Job last held in Perth and when you left it:

This is my second tour of duty to Vietnam. After six years of madness I returned to Australia to ‘recover’ but after doing a few different things for a few years, renovating houses and playing music, the lure of the Orient became too great so I headed back to check things out again.

What is your current role:

CEO of Big Star, making sure we deliver on our first TV show and exceed expectations, while developing new products to make sure we are always one step ahead of the pack. My partner, who is also my wife, now runs contraband; I do get to design the occasional t-shirt though.

What other roles do you play in your industry or local business community:

Currently national president and Hanoi chairman, Australian Business Group of Vietnam (Chamber of Commerce). This takes up a lot of not-so-free time. Aside from business issues we do have a charitable arm that last year raised more than A$100,000, which we managed to allocate to a lot of worthwhile causes

Explain how you got this particular job:

What started out as a good idea in April 1990 just kept becoming more interesting and a change of the markets meant a change of focus, so here we are. The amount of corporate and international aid money earmarked for the youth market here is staggering, yet there are very few vehicles to access this market thus we decided to create some. So made a few phone calls and managed to put together a team of people who could help me build this idea into an operational and profitable business.

Outline your office culture:

Chaos that works, from TV show hosts to our product checking staff, we run the full cultural gamut daily. We have stopped the lunchtime naps, which I am beginning to regret. We have relocated offices three times in the past 18 months due to expansion and we are about to separate the two businesses now to individual premises, so it will be four moves in two years. Although a nightmare, this is a great indication to our staff of our development, which as a small private company is important

How much commuting do you do:


Does your job involve travel, if so how much, where to and to what purpose:

Over the next 20 weeks we will be filming live concerts weekly in four locations throughout the country.

How well did your work in Perth equip you for your current job:

I left very young, so an uncluttered and flexible mind has definitely been an asset. Perth requires you to have a very macro view of the world and that I believe is a very good thing.

Can you see yourself returning to Perth? If so, in how long and under what circumstances:

I like to get back at least once a year to touch base, but I have become addicted to the frenetic pace of Vietnam and really love working here.

What is your email address:

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