Natapree (Pim) Pichaironarongsongkram

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  • “I worked for a real estate company in 2008 and knew this was the direction I wanted to take. So I went back to school to get a master in real estate and then came back to Bangkok with the plan of building something of my own. But I didn’t start right away. I first helped the family business with the pre-opening of Riva Surya, to develop the concept of the hotel and stayed on for about 6 months after the opening to help out. Then there was this opportunity to create a community mall so I founded Supatra Real Estate and I have been at Tha Maharaj since day one when they broke ground. I enjoy being a business owner a lot more than being in college. I didn’t like the stress of taking tests. People tell you that real life is so much tougher but I disagree. I like being able to reach so many people and see them happy with our service.”
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  • “Coming from a business family helps but there is a lot of learning by doing and there is a price that you pay for not knowing. We had lots of delays on the project. I had hoped to have the mall fully occupied by early 2015 but we just achieved that target now. I had to learn about the engineering side of the retail business. For example, I didn’t know how many electrical lamps are required for a restaurant of a certain size. But we had lots of very experienced consultants and I learned a lot from them. I am still learning every day. And now I don’t have a GM anymore, I am the GM.”
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“I have learned to be more focused. At the beginning I had so many ideas and wanted to do so many things. My mom kept telling me ‘Focus, focus, focus. You can’t do a million things at once. First do this well and then you can go on to other things’. My mom has always been my mentor. She teaches me to be thorough, careful, and very detailed-oriented. And to know the ins and outs of the business and do things on my own. She believes in developing and training people. I used to have a general manager but she said, ‘You can do it on your own and once you learn everything, then you can hire someone else and go on to do other things’. It’s a way to train me.”  
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“Pretty much every day there is someone that says, ‘oh, you look so young.’ And it often comes with a face of disbelief and sometimes disapproval, like they don’t have much faith in me. But I don’t take it personally. If I saw someone looking like me managing a mall and approaching investors, I would probably be a bit surprised too. Sometimes I just let my team handle negotiations and contracts because they look more senior. But then they would always come to me and ask me for the final sign-off.”
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  • “Having a good team is very important. I am very lucky that I have a good team to work with, that I can rely on. You have to win their hearts. It’s a competitive industry so the benefits are obviously important but it’s more than that. I take care of them as family. When I travel, I always come back with a present for each of my office staff. If one of their family members is sick, I let them work from home. If they go home late I make sure they take safe transport. And we always LINE each other and share pictures outside of work. So we are like a family and I think it’s very important to have these values in an organization where you want people to be committed to their work.”
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“We have an amulet market here and sellers open and close when they have customers. This area has been known for amulet trade for over 40 years and we are lucky to have them. Choosing the right amulet takes a lot of time so people like to come on Sundays and be able to bring their families along. Before they would just go straight to the amulet shop but now there is a space for the whole family to enjoy, so it’s a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience.”
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“My dream is to have more real estate in my portfolio, and I am working on it. Next year we are going to have another mall on the other side of the river. It’s going to be smaller, with a different design, and offer a different experience than Tha Maharaj. I prefer to grow in small scale because I want every corner to have a personal touch of me. Here, for example, you see an umbrella corner and next week it will be a swim rings corner. If I see something that inspires me I want to be able to talk to the team and change things up a bit. Also, a mall of a manageable size allows me to get to know my tenants and develop a personal relationship with them. It’s a privilege for me.”

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