Prestige’s ‘Empowered Women’ series dive into the world of strong women who are leading by example in their own ways. Here, Pimpisa “Pear” Chirathivat, Corporate Director of Design and Technical Services of Centara Hotels & Resorts, ponders on what success means to her.
One breezy monsoon season evening, 29-year-old Pimpisa “Pear” Chirathivat and her team watched as the lights flicked on at Salt Society, a restaurant-bar space at a soon-to-be-launched luxury hotel on Koh Samui.
“I got goosebumps. This is what I’d been waiting for. I was able to help do something that the entire team and the people around me could feel proud of. Everyone was just quiet, and smiling,” she says, cherishing the memory of that night. “We kept saying ‘it’s so pretty’. That was very rewarding for me.”
The property itself is Centara Reserve Samui, the first luxury hotel for Centara Group, a company founded by Pear’s family, the well-known Chirathivats. This Centara Reserve brand hotel, which Pimpisa calls “my baby”, boasts 260 metres of beachfront and 184 rooms, including private villas, with a luxury-oriented redesign of each aspect of the brand – from amenities to uniforms to customer experience.
“I’m involved in all aspects,” she points out. “Nowadays, with hospitality, you can’t separate each department. You’re not only creating a place, you’re creating a story for each guest. Each experience, uniform, selection of amenities – everything has to go in the same direction.”
It was a formidable, three-year task and one that Pimpisa took on confidently as the Corporate Director of Design and Technical Services at Centara Hotels & Resorts. She admits she adores her position because it combines her educational background in design as well as her passion for business and more.
In fact, Pimpisa had always straddled the worlds of arts and business, and excelled at leadership. As a student, studying Interior Architecture at Chulalongkorn University, she was also a radio and a television host, and even launched a lipstick brand called ‘Boyfriend’. And because she was an exercise and sports aficionado, she also co-founded GirlsNation Activewear which continues to thrive.
Pimpisa moved to England to earn an MS in Entrepreneurship at Cass Business School, due to her passion for business, even though it was a marked departure from her architecture undergraduate degree. She learned priceless lessons during the one-year course abroad, and not just in terms of academics. She learned about herself, too.
Her current role takes advantage of all her diverse skills, including the intangible ones. She credits her family with placing a priority on etiquette and teaching her how to work with more senior professionals. “I’m not shy or scared. My job requires me to meet a lot of people, so social skills are important.” At the same time, she tells her team and colleagues to be straightforward about ideas, and in dealing with any disagreements. Although she is a Chirathivat, she believes it’s better for her to be treated as a team member, not as an unquestionable authority figure.
“I don’t like an environment where people treat me special. I just want to get the work done and make everyone happy,” she remarks. “I don’t like people who have to ask me for my opinion every step of the way.”
“I wouldn’t call myself successful yet. There’s a long, long way to go. Success is not just about revenue or money. it’s more intimate than that”
Despite the current setback in the hospitality industry, Pimpisa is calm and confident about the next few years. She credits her optimism with allowing her to roll with the punches. “I have the ability to adapt and it makes me quite flexible no matter what I’m facing. With the Covid-19 situation it was, ‘Oh my God! I have to adapt myself’. I’m a fast learner and I’m able to finish things quickly, so… I could be right or wrong, but it’s better than doing nothing,” she says.
Her boldness carries over to her hobbies as well. She plays tennis and this year began to learn scuba diving, recently earning her Advanced Open Water PADI certification. “I like going to the beach, but I don’t like getting into the water,” she admits. “But I like challenges. The scarier it is, the more I want to do it – without being reckless.”
With five or six other projects on her plate, things always move quickly. In addition to current renovations, she’s eyeing two more hotels under the Centara Reserve brand, as well as a Centara Grand Hotel Osaka, slated to launch in 2023. “I’m enjoying both my work and personal life at the moment,” she says. “I feel like my life has just started.”
So, has she reached the pinnacle of success? “I wouldn’t call myself successful yet. There’s a long, long way to go. For now, success is being able to do what I love, seeing it being completed, and having other people, like guests or my team, feel and understand what I’m trying to communicate, whether that’s through architecture, design, or experience. Success is not just about revenue or money. It’s more intimate than that.”
Dress: Brandon Maxwell
Jewellery: Gems Pavilion
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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