Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao is a petite woman with a tendency to smile sweetly as she answers questions in a soft voice. But don't be fooled - she is no pushover.
As founder and chief executive of VietJet, she has grown Vietnam's only private low-cost carrier (LCC) so quickly that, less than five years after opening for business, its passenger volume is on track to surpass that of Vietnam Airlines, the country's national carrier.
Smart, decisive Thao explains that she is a feverish researcher.
"When my first son was only a few months old, I started to research the low cost carrier space," the 45-year old recalls. "Then I spent the next 10 years researching aviation, meeting the CEOs of different LCC's like Jetstar, Air Asia and Southwest Airlines."
The airline industry was a fairly new field for Thao, who had made her fortune in Vietnamese real estate.
Her secret to success: research and timing. In the years leading up to VietJet's first flight in December 2011, there was no independent low-cost carrier in Vietnam. The middle class was growing and the Communist government was opening up the aviation sector to competition.