At Prestige, the essence of our content is defined through chronicles of local bourgeoisie, the places they frequent, and the happenings that revolve around them. We relish in the lavish lives of society’s crème de la crème, and as such, are naturally no strangers to the proverbial silver spoon. What strikes us most, however, is when we come across individuals who — rather than simply keeping the spoons tightly clamped in their mouths — take it and use it to dig a path to something even greater. In this series, we talk to three such second-generation successors — CEOs and MDs who have spearheaded their family businesses to become leaders in their respective fields. Among them is Tipa “Mol” Nawawattanasub.
The CEO of gold bar importer and trader YLG Bullion International, Mol is no stranger to the business limelight. Recognised for being a role model of finance, her contributions to providing accurate knowledge of smart gold investment have drawn the attention of the Foundation of Science and Technology Council of Thailand, as well as the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Her name tops international lists on a regional level — at the Bloomberg Businessweek Thailand Awards in 2012 she was named CEO of the Year, and Forbes Asia pinned her as one of the 12 female CEOs to watch out for in 2014. Prestige had a chat with the driven second-generation CEO regarding her thoughts on success, passion, and taking over what her family started. Here’s what we learned.
“Always go for gold”
Though not the exact words she lives by, Mol’s accomplishments speak for themselves, accentuated by the countless awards bestowed on her over the years. She attributes her success to a strong work ethic that has been fostered since childhood, when she would walk to her parent’s Yoo Lim Gold Factory office after school from Assumption Convent. “I’ve always wanted to work since I was young because I felt that if I helped out, my parents would be able to retire quicker, she recalls. “I always wanted to alleviate their workload, and after I was done with my MBA exams at the University of Kent, I flew back to Bangkok the very next day to work both at home and on my dissertation here.”
“You can make yourself happy”
Upon her return, Mol was given the opportunity of heading YLG Bullion International — her family’s new venture which dealt with gold bars. Though she happily took on the challenge of building something new, she admits that the first few years were filled with ambivalence. Unsure whether her passions lay elsewhere, she dabbled in other fields, and even opened restaurants at Suvarnabhumi International Airport under WN Food & Beverage — the company later expanded to Don Muang Airport and Phuket Airport. Like many of us, she spent a handful of years questioning whether she’d truly found what she loved to do. It was advice from her mother, Pawan, that dispelled her doubts and indifference, and helped her see working for the family business in a new light.
“She told me that there were two types of people,” Mol says simply, “the first being those who knew what their passion was and could generate enough monetary returns to sustain that. But as for others who haven’t found their passion, why not build a passion into what you are doing? My outlook on work completely changed after that. Happiness is not outside… it is within us and it’s all about how you can make yourself happy.”
With a proactive appetite for new projects, one of Mol’s favourite parts of her role is getting involved in initiating new things. Using her previous experience with gold bars, she founded YLG Bullion & Futures — a selling agent for gold futures inthe TFEX market, that supports investments of both major customers and gold retail shops — as well as featured trading centre YLG Precious. Not only that, but earlier this year, YLG Gold also started to deliver gold bars and jewellery using Thailand Post. This marked a turning point in the industry — while online ordering has been available for the past decade, it only applied to bulk orders and gold stores that used the service.
“Sometimes customers don’t have time to visit the store so they can just log into our website 24/7, which ensures guarantee and insurance too.” She explains to us, “We have to keep adapting because people now have little patience and want the products immediately.”
“The highest point that we all want is the same”
Now a mother of two herself, Mol looks back at her own childhood, and recognises that one of the best gifts her parents gave her, was the freedom to try things her own way — even when they knew it was wrong. “When I first started working for them, I was the grad going by the Bible thinking what I studied was the best.”
The story of freshly graduating and thinking you know best is one a lot of us are familiar with, yet while many of us were prevented from failure by doubtful parents, Mol was allowed to experience her success and failures on her own — something she is grateful for. “They let me learn for myself that it would fail just like they said it would. And if they didn’t give me that chance, I would always be wondering and wanting to try my way.”
Having come a long way from the fresh graduate who did things by the book, when we asked her how she deals with differences in opinion within her family when it comes to the business, she emphasises the importance of remembering the end goal. “When it comes to family businesses, you need to remember that the highest point that we all want is the same — for our company to progress and succeed. Dad may want to go right and others another way, but it will remind you that what everyone does is not to harm the business. I’ve always held on to this to remind myself that we all have the same goal and if one way doesn’t work, we can go back to another.”
Read more about Mol and the other two second-generation successors Jatuphat “O” Tangkaravakoon and Narun “Note” Thamavaranukup in the June issue of Prestige, available in all leading bookstores in Thailand.
Photographer: Vatcharasith Wichyanrat
Stylist: Panchanitch Rattanawilai
Stylist’s Assistant: Nichabul Thamyutsakul
Makeup: Punwisit Sukarom and Noravich Techarattanasirikun
Hair: Kampanat Wongsalung
Editorial Coordinator: Rattanachai Chaipornsantikul