Prestige’s ‘Empowered Women’ series dive into the world of strong women who are leading by example in their own ways. Here, Pattaranun “Ize” Kittisarn, co-founder and marketing director of Velocean Liveaboard, shares her journey and motto.
It takes a certain level of courage to survive and thrive in the male-dominated world of marine sports, yet this character trait is something 33-year-old Pattaranun “Ize” Kittisarn has no shortage of. Growing up in a family passionate about the ocean and scuba diving, Ize is the type of woman who has swum down to the greatest depths of the sea in search of other worlds. She also calls sharks “her friends”.
As the Co-Founder and Marketing Director of Velocean Liveaboard, a 52-metre scuba purpose-built, luxury liveaboard nautical vessel, Ize shares with us her insights as to how she got to where she is today: “Be fearless. Fear is nothing more than a state of mind. Don’t let it rob you of your possibilities.”
Ize spent many of her summers in Australia, and always had a flair for communicating within international circles. After completing her Bachelor’s in Marketing and International Business at Chulalongkorn University, she went on to obtain a Master’s in Commerce from RMIT in Melbourne. She returned from Australia in 2016, to help run her family’s diving liveaboard business, and after several years of living and working in Indonesia a lightbulb moment suddenly occurred.
“Always believe in yourself and your gut instinct. good things come to people who keep trying. and when opportunity doesn’t knock, you have to build your own door”
“I saw a real opportunity in the luxury segment,” she explains. “I thought, why not combine scuba diving with the yachting lifestyle? So I, together with my husband and co-founder in Indonesia, decided to build a purpose-built luxury liveaboard that scuba divers and yacht lovers would truly value.”
The name ‘Velocean’ is a portmanteau that blends the words velocity and ocean. With an all aluminium hull, and powerful twin marine engines that give 22 knots maximum speed, Velocean is the fastest diving liveaboard in Indonesia.
“I am really proud of launching Velocean and seeing how far it’s come. We are the first in Thailand to merge the luxury segment with scuba diving and cater to the high-end international market. We have welcomed divers from all around the world. Velocean is now fully booked until 2023, and we worked very hard to achieve this.
“At first, it was very hard,” Ize continues, opening up about her experience working as a female in the competitive marine industry. “I had to go to all these exhibitions that were very male-centric and traditional. Not only is it tough as a woman, but also when you look young, people will question your capabilities. I had to prove myself. But when you do that – when you tell them that your liveaboard is fully booked and must be booked a year in advance – people are surprised. But then they pay attention.
“Indonesia is one of the top diving destinations in the world,” she goes on to say. “People love it, and those looking for a truly spectacular holiday, ranging anywhere from 6 to 14 nights, will experience so much in that country. From diving around the famous Raja Ampat archipelago, to seeing hundreds of Hammerhead sharks in the Banda Sea, to visiting Komodo, the UNESCO world heritage site that is home to the infamous Komodo dragons, there is so much to explore!”
Of course, with the pandemic shutting down international travel, Velocean has had to adapt its strategy and look to the local Indonesian market, which generally places greater emphasis on luxury ocean outings than scuba diving. Thankfully, the spirit of the Velocean team, and all the hard work they put in, is helping make this happen.
“We’re still busy. I’ve been training my crew this week and even with less scuba diving now, Velocean is still active, as it is very much geared towards the five star experience. She accommodates up to 18 guests and has an experienced crew of 24 – almost twice that of other boats in the industry – with talented chefs proudly cooking Thai and international cuisines. Velocean is equally just as much for those who enjoy luxury on water. That’s why she’s still afloat,” Ize adds. “But of course, we are really looking forward to welcoming international divers back soon.”
As the Marketing Director, Ize gives some insight into her company’s success. “Rather than focus on selling, our priority is on creating the customer’s experience. Yes, of course, we are partnered with leading travel companies in 20 countries across five continents, and that helps, but our main focus is always to get the customer experience right. We focus on creating the best diving routes, ensuring the best cuisine and hospitality, and providing the highest levels of comfort, luxury and safety. If the customer is choosing us for their holiday, we do everything to make it perfect. Our success is rooted just as much in the wonderful experiences our customers have had. When the customer is happy, their words are very powerful”.
Ize’s parting words are also powerful. “Always believe in yourself and your gut instinct. When someone tells you it’s not possible, don’t be so quick to believe them. Good things come to people who keep trying. And when opportunity doesn’t knock, you have to build your own door.”
Photographer: Vatcharasith Wichyanrat
Photographer’s Assistant: Somboonkiat Wonghom & Kiattisak Janprai
Stylist: Chittawatr Buramyakorn
Stylist’s Assistant: Thitikorn Homnaul
Makeup Artist: Nontalee Wongpeng
Hair Stylist: Kitphisuth Kanchanakawinphong
Editorial Coordinator: Kanyaphat Somwong
Location: Alexander And James
This story was first published in the August 2021 issue of Prestige Thailand.
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