After earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver and a master’s degree at Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, Chulalongkorn University, Velvadi Sritrairatana began working on land development projects for family-owned properties. “I mostly work in the Wat Rakhang area,” she says. This is where she runs the family’s Wang Lang Plaza, Bangkok Noi fresh market and several serviced apartments.
One might call her a guardian of her family’s heritage. She is also managing director of Putahracsa Hua Hin Resort and Theatre Residence in Bangkok. The land on which Putahracsa stands was passed down to Velvadi by her late grandmother, Khunying Supatra Singholaka. Theatre Residence occupies the site that was previously home to Bangkok’s first open-air theatre, which was established by her mother, actress and National Artist Patravadi Mejudhon. “When the theatre was severely damaged by flooding a few years ago, I decided to turn it into a semi-long-stay boutique hotel,” she says.
The biggest challenge in her line of work, Velvadi tells us, is human resources. “The problem with the hospitality industry is that there is a high turnover of staff, which can be taxing,” she says. “Having said that, I am lucky to have a number of employees who have stuck with me for many years.” On the bright side she thoroughly enjoys her role, particularly being able to work with a team that shares the same drive in the pursuit of company goals.
Velvadi is an assiduous businesswoman but she is also the mother of teenage son and daughter, Momo and Moya. “It’s one thing to work hard but it is also important to find the right balance between one’s professional and personal life,” she says. As she strives to achieve this, her time spent at home is dedicated to her husband, interior designer Viboon Techakalayatum, and their children. “My policy is to not bring work home with me and I don’t work on Saturdays and Sundays.” When she isn’t preoccupied with her companies and family, in her spare time Velvadi enjoys cycling and yoga sessions. Whether for work or leisure, travelling is another activity she loves and she particularly likes visiting Tokyo. “I travel four to five times a year,” she explains.
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Both in her career and personal life, Velvadi tells us her most important role models are her grandmother and mother. “My grandmother was someone I really looked up to as an exemplary businesswoman. With my mother, I think what I cherish most are her teachings on life and the way in which she has helped me to become the person I am today.” Business is going well and while many successful people might aspire to pass down their going concerns to the next generation, this isn’t something Velvadi plans to impose on her children. “I don’t really mind what they choose to do for a career but I do keep reminding them that whatever it is, it should be something they are truly passionate about,” she says.
As a child Velvadi confesses to admiring the boys and girls who packed groceries in the supermarkets of New York and how they were so meticulous about arranging items. “If you sort and pack groceries properly, you don’t need to use so many shopping bags,” she says. Fun fact it may be, but it also hints at her desire for efficiency and orderliness in everything she does. “I’m a bit of a neat freak,” she laughs, “but then I have a lot going on so I have to be.”
What advice does she have for people who want to embark on their own venture in the hospitality industry? “If you’re doing it for image or financial gain, you will probably struggle. You have to do it with your heart to be successful. It requires long-term dedication and passion. Of course, being organised and thorough in your planning also helps.”
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