Tran Ly isn’t afraid to stray a bit from the traditional career trajectory. She’s gained much of her confidence and experience through her willingness to take on opportunities that weren’t always part of an expected career path, and to learn whatever she could from them.
After studying mathematics and computer science in university, she started working as a software developer for Wynne Systems. In the 11 years after that, she progressed to a variety of research and development (R&D) roles at Wynne, including team lead and development manager.
When Volaris acquired Wynne Systems in 2012, Ly became Director of R&D and later found herself taking on different challenges as Chief Operating Officer. She spent time understanding the professional services and customer care departments before eventually becoming General Manager (GM) in 2018.
“My career took a different route from where it began,” Ly explains. “I’m not in the technical realm as much now. It’s more business management. Volaris gave me the tools to step into that change in a responsible way.”
In March 2022, Ly took on yet another new challenge when she moved over to a different portfolio and into her current role as a Group Leader. She describes her new role as a hybrid of group leadership and integration management, where she works with newly acquired businesses and helps them adapt to Volaris.
Acquired Knowledge magazine spoke with Tran Ly about how she balances the financial and people management aspects of her work. She also imparts insights to new employees at Volaris.
Volaris gave me the tools to step into [business management] in a responsible way.
-Tran Ly, Group Leader, Volaris
What was your experience like at Wynne Systems before it was acquired by Volaris?
We were a smaller company of around 50 people or so, and I ran an R&D team. We were the only software company in a large corporation, and we were doing the best we could with the tools we had. I started out as a developer and learned on the job.
Before Wynne joined Volaris, we didn’t know how to look at the numbers in a way that would show us which levers we can pull to affect outcomes. Volaris really brought to the table the financial view of how the business is doing, and benchmarking to see how we compare to other businesses.
What does your day-to-day look like in your new role as Group Leader?
My current role has no real day-to-day. From a talent management perspective, I do at least one touchpoint a week with my team, and 30-minute one-on-one meetings. Currently, I’m the interim GM for one of the businesses I manage, so once a week we do a senior leadership meeting. Beyond that, I work on analysis and training materials.
I also look across the portfolio and provide guidance as needed. My work does change, and that’s the fun part. Every week and every month are different.
Rather than trying to assimilate companies into a single standard, we want to make sure they maintain their identities. We recognize that our acquired businesses are already good at serving their markets.
-Tran Ly, Group Leader, Volaris
What challenges come along with your new role as Group Leader, where you are gaining more exposure to M&A?
I come from a more structured background, so it can feel tempting to take a wash, rinse, repeat approach. When we look at an acquisition’s technology and financials, those can be more straightforward. We give businesses tools, data, and metrics to work on so they can become stronger.
But beyond financials, every acquisition that Volaris makes is different. Rather than trying to assimilate companies into a single standard, we want to make sure they maintain their identities. We recognize that our acquired businesses are already good at serving their markets.
Every acquisition brings with it new people, whether they be founders who built the business from the ground up, loyal employees, or family members. We tailor our approach so that we are respectful to people and consider their views.
Tran Ly on stage during the Women in Leadership event at Quadrants 2022. She says her experience at Volaris has helped her become better at managing people and developing talent.
What would you say Volaris has added to your career?
First and foremost, I have sharpened my financial acumen. I studied math, but not accounting and finance. Volaris has taught me the importance of understanding the current and future health of the business, and how to leverage experience from our peer businesses.
Volaris has helped me develop the skillset of managing people and developing talent. Leadership makes huge investments in conducting talent reviews, where we evaluate strengths, areas of improvement, and sensible goals that help us continue to develop leaders.
What are some of the biggest lessons learned during your Volaris experience so far?
Be open to opportunities. It’s good to have goals, ambition, and a career path in mind, but I didn’t let that get in the way of evaluating each opportunity on its own merit. I’ve had amazing managers in my career who always gave me room to try new things without having to worry about being stuck or failing. I learned from those experiences and used them to move forward.
I don’t need my career path to follow a straight trajectory. Before taking my current role, I was running a business with a larger revenue than the one I’m responsible for now. People ask why I made that role change, because a common expectation is that you should always take on more. What I was doing before became repetitive, but what I’m doing now offers a different challenge. To me, making that change has definitely been worthwhile.
Be open to opportunities. It’s good to have goals, ambition, and a career path in mind, but I didn’t let that get in the way of evaluating each opportunity on its own merit.
-Tran Ly, Group Leader, Volaris
Do you have any personal principles that guide you through your work and career?
I’m a mother, and one of the things I always try to make sure my team understands is that family comes first. If you give your employees that flexibility to prioritize their family when they can and need to, they will prioritize the work when they need to as well. You just have to give them the freedom to do so.
When helping new companies adapt to Volaris, Tran recognizes the importance of tailoring a respectful approach that considers the views of the people in that business.
What is the potential for employees to progress in their careers at Volaris?
At Volaris, not only can you move up within the organization, but you can also look at opportunities across the different business units. If you’ve been in one role for a while and feel you are ready to take a step in a new direction, look across different business units to see if something interests you.
What advice would you give newer Volaris employees who are looking to be successful?
A certain amount of patience is required to really become an expert in your field. There’s no replacement for that. You could be very good at what you do, but can you teach it? Can you master it without having put in the time? I would advise new employees who get into a new position to give themselves a little bit of time. Get good at what you’re doing. Don’t look ahead until you’re actually ready.