Although born in Thailand, Fa Benedetti grew up with Italian roots and from the ninth grade transitioned into an international school life. This began with a move from Thailand to the American School in Switzerland, which is located in the Italian-speaking region of the small country. Later, she went on to gain degrees from Marymount College in Los Angeles and Northeastern University in Boston with a degree in social psychology with a focus in organisational corporate studies. But despite this prestigious start— and even though her grandparents founded the Thailand-based Italian import company Italasia—Fa was still unsure what career she wanted to take in life. “I don’t remember ever wanting to be in a particular profession and it was hard to pinpoint exactly what I wanted to do,” she explains. Finding something that appealed to her took perseverance. “I took many classes to find out what I liked the most but still I wasn’t clear on what I wanted to do in the future,” she remarks. However she was fascinated with the study of behavioral patterns in the corporate world and how it is important especially in Western society. It was from this point on that she set down a path that she hoped would “contribute to wherever my career was taking me.”
It became clear later on, after getting to know more about the hotel industry, that working for the family company was what she loved doing the most. And today Fa is the hospitality director for Italasia, working with her brother Chakrit in a position she takes very seriously and also holds dear to her heart. “I manage the hospitality department at Italasia and we focus on equipping hotels and restaurants with the finest equipment available,” she says. Under her supervision are teams who procure equipment for hotels, from furniture to kitchenware. Fa also explains that the company offers extensive support to its clients once they have opened. “The other side of Italasia supplies wine, spirits, coffee and water, and we are today the one stop solution to providing F&B needs.”
(Also read: Behind The Scenes: Fa Benedetti, One Of Us)
When asked what she enjoys she says, “I like the design and concept of this industry and by travelling you see what other people are doing and their concepts you take home with you to create something new for your market.” The joy she gets from her work did not come easy though. Starting out in the family business at a young age, she initially felt the pressure implied by her surname. “I was young and a lot of people had been there since my grandparents and I had to do even better,” she says. “I had to come in and not change what they do but to contribute and create a better environment in a positive way.” She had to prove herself—and fast. Looking back on that time, she credits her father’s prediction when she was young, that she would come and look after the hospitality side of the business because she was good at picking up on the small details when they travelled together. “That’s exactly where I’m at today,” she says.
When Fa talks, her passion for her field is clear to see. “Working in hospitality is about fulfilling client’s dreams, and we are lucky to have a complete solution that can help new hotels and restaurants do that,” she says, adding that the Italasia division she is reponsible for holds a partnership with over 40 furniture and kitchen brands that stretch from linen to silverware and glassware. Every project invigorates her. “When I read a brief I get excited about what I can put together for them.”
Her life, though, is not all about work. Fa is also very close to her family. “My work and family motivate me,” she adds. Choosing a role model is not easy, she explains, because over the years she has grown to respect a lot of individuals. “I look up to a lot of people in my family with them being my first role models,” she says. “My parents have taught me first-hand the values in life and the importance of family. It gives me stability and confidence to pursue my life and career in ways that I love and to do my best.” Asked to describe time with family, Fa says that “spending time with them is a retreat” but that she doesn’t do it nearly enough. “We only spend a lot of time together on family trips during Songkran and New Year.”
This is something she would like to rectify. “I would like it to be on a more regular basis and not at arranged times.” Her hectic work schedule means that she’s yet to find the spare time and stable routine that she hopes, one day, to achieve. “I wish I could have a routine schedule so that I could do more hobbies and some sports like jogging.” Fa has a wild side too, one that is yet to be fully explored. “I enjoy doing adventure travel in countries like Cambodia, India and Sri Lanka for example.” She hopes to be able to experience more off-the-beaten-track cultures. “With my work, it is very city-focused or resorts-focused with lots of luxury,” she says. “To appreciate a certain culture we have to stay open minded,” she believes and “try and experience what the locals experience.” The best way to experience a new culture is through its food, she adds, and Fa’s love of it is all encompassing. “I love all kinds of food, Italian of course but Thai is amazing because it’s so broad,” she says. And, she adds: “You appreciate it more when you go to a country that has great food because when you come back you fall in love with it all over again.”
Asked about plans for the future, she gives a vague but honest answer. “I want to spend more time with family and loved ones, friends, mentors and relatives,” she says. “I want to continue my grandparents’ and my father’s legacy by growing Italasia into a leader in the industry.” What she is trying to get across is that even though work is key, family must not be overlooked. For her it is important “to spend more time with your family when you work because in the end you don’t see your family as much as you used to, and that’s all I really need—a balance of both.”