We sat down to interview Natapree “Pim” Pichaironarongsongkram for Prestige’s February, 2015 issue. Here are our favourite excerpts of the photoshoot and interview.
Natapree has always wanted to be involved in hospitality
Pim’s education in the US and her first job were chosen with this in mind. “During my time at Cornell, I realised that I was fascinated by the development aspects of hotels and real estate. That’s why after I graduated I chose a job that would give me a foundation in hotel development like finance, in looking at land, looking at zoning and such. So I could adapt it for later on, if I were to have my own real estate company.”
When she returned in 2011, she was ready to aim high and work hard. “I came back and I wanted to apply everything that I had learnt in school on my first project. I had many ideas, trying to do this and that all at once.”
Ethics are central to her family’s businesses
Philanthropy and community service are core values for the family business, and are sources of inspiration for Pim. Supatra Foundation, for instance, founded in honour of her grandmother, awards hundreds of employees’ children with scholarships. Her face lights up as she talks about a recent news story that caught her eye, which profiled another foundation, comprised of teachers who dedicated their lives to teaching the underprivileged: migrants, construction workers, and their children.
“One of the teachers said, ‘My mom told me when I joined this foundation that I would earn a lot of merit, but I wouldn’t ever own a house. Thirty years later, I don’t know about my merit, but I know I provide children with the opportunity to own a house,’” she says, pausing. “That’s very inspiring.”
She is returning to her childhood passions
Outside her professional realm, recently she is revisiting and refreshing childhood skills. For instance, she has over the past year or so begun to return to horse-riding, a passion that first took her when she was 10 years old. She attended countless riding competitions until she left for college. “I would have all these ribbons along my walls. They were so colourful, because I hardly won first place! I would get first, second, third, fourth – everything,” she says, a testament to her love of the sport itself, rather than winning awards. “It was like a rainbow on my wall.”
She’s also now brushing up her French, first learned when she attended high school in Switzerland, as it is a part of her and a skill that she cherishes and doesn’t want to lose. “I’m very shy when I speak French. I’m not confident because I don’t know whether my accent and my pronunciation are correct.” In some ways, she has not changed from her earlier years. (Reminiscing about Pim’s younger days, her mother says, “The telephone was her life! She spent so much time talking on the telephone…” she teases, “and I think it’s still the same today.”)
She has learned to cherish precious moments
“Time is something you can’t have back. You have to be in the moment. I lost my father, who passed away when I was still in school, so something I’ve really come to treasure is time… we spend so much time socialising that we sometimes neglect people who love us very much.” It is one of the hardest life lessons she has ever learnt, and it has altered her priorities. “Before, I was a social girl. When I was younger, I liked to go out. Now I spend a lot of time at home, and when I travel, I try to bring my family members with me…”
She has a vision for the future of Supatra Real Estate
“My hope and dream is to continue with real estate development. We have a few new projects in the pipeline,” she reveals. “We’re not doing anything mega big, but I am very passionate about each project and I am very glad to have the opportunity to pursue it.” Ongoing projects include Riva Arun, a boutique hotel by the river in the same vein as Riva Surya, while there are more retail spaces and real estate projects on the horizon.
At the same time, she is learning about her family business, and she foresees significant changes to the services and facilities it provides. “I hope I can improve the business so we can grow together along with Thailand, alongside the growing infrastructure, the skytrain, and the underground train. The boats will need to be upgraded, as do the piers, the terminals and the stations.”
The riverside is going to transform
“The way people see the Chao Phraya River in Thailand is going to change because we now have big players by the riverside. It’s synergy: trying to make the river look more beautiful and more welcoming.”
Photography: Benya Hegenbarth
Styling: Sirivong Sukasemsin
Assistant Stylists: Narekarn Aukraranittichavanon and Parichart Suthasarn
Makeup Artist: Ekarin Wongakanit
Hair Stylist: Pongsiri Pornpijaipak
Venue: Tha Maharaj