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L’Ardoises King – Nguyen Tat Cuong

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Armed with a high school diploma from a French Lycée Jean Jacques Rousseau in Saigon, the young Vietnamese Nguyen Tat Cuong went on to discover France in 1964.

Upon his arrival in France, he instantly set himself a goal of returning to Vietnam, as soon as he finished his study, to work for his country and particularly to be next to his mother whom he cherished and adored. After 5 years in technical study and 3 years at Philips factories in Holland, he decided in 1971 to continue his education at INSEAD in Fontainebleau.  This enabled him to broaden his tutelage and discover topics such as finance, marketing, and business management. In short, the language of men and not machines.

Back in South Vietnam in 1972, Well-equipped with an engineering degree from INSA Lyon, a DEA in computer science and further an MBA INSEAD in Fontainebleau, he had to flee the South Vietnam’s capital, in desperation and permanently, this time in 1975.

His evacuation with the boat people led him to the United States, then to France. Back in France in 1975, after 2 years in Vietnam as Director of Information Technology at the Central Bank, he now worked primarily as a Finance Controller. His role was to ensure that other people’s budgets were treasured. In 1988, when Nicolas Bouygues promoted Cuong to Managing Director of the Building Materials Distribution branch of his group, he switched roles to management, responsible for his actions and budget.

Nguyen Tat Cuong, 56, exiled but unwavering, had a prominent career at Framatome, Motorola, Schlumberger and, finally, Imerys, since 1993, when he was recruited to help rectify the finance at Lariviere, a roofing product trading company. Leaving his family to straighten Larivière in Angers (200 miles from Paris), he gave himself 6 months before he would agree to be replaced if the job was too intricate. In the end, he stayed for 13 years in Angers, a city known for its placid climate. The Larivière company, loss-making, on the verge of bankruptcy in 1993, had become an attractive company, profitable and in full expansion.

Fait accompli: 265 million euros of revenue, 14 million euros of operating profit, against 3 million euros of deficit on arrival, 70 agencies and 770 salaries.

In 1999, now the General Manager of Lariviere, Cuong, took over the reins of the Ardoisières d’Angers, a subsidiary of Imerys, with the new title of CEO. The Fresnais and Grands-Carreaux mines, with 240 employees and sixteen million euros of sales, covered almost all French production, i.e., 16,000 tons of natural slate.

Un peu de luxe dans un monde brut du coffrage.”


Dr Chuck Le of 7 Day Dental, my dear nephew, saw an article published in 2002 in the French magazine L’Express that covered my life journey. He wanted to republish it in his up-and-coming magazine”, said Nguyen Tat Cuong. “There, you will uncover my professional life.  Thank you, Chuck, for letting me tell my story.”

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