Perhaps it's every manager's dream, but Nusara (Assakul) Banyatpiyaphod wants to develop a business system that is so perfect that her company, Ocean Property, will run itself. And perhaps it's not an impossible dream, when the company's unhurried philosophy is, first and foremost, to satisfy its customers - making it part of a very successful family empire.
Ocean Property is the property arm of the Ocean group, now operated by the second generation of the Assakul family, the two sons and one daughter of tycoon Kris Assakul.
Nusara began her business life after graduating with a master's in business administration (finance) and a bachelor's degree in mathematics and system science from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1986, at the tender age of 24.
Upon her graduation, her father assigned her to operate the Ocean Group's property business.
Kris, founder of the Ocean Group, began building his empire with Ocean Life Insurance. Over nearly half a century, it came to include Ocean Glass, Koh Samui's Bandara Resort and Spa, Saint Stephen's International School, Ocean Marina Yacht Club and Ocean Property.
"I don't know why my father assigned me to operate the property business, because I graduated with an MBA that focused on financing and I worked as a fund manager in US after graduating. I never asked my father 'why?' but I think he believed I could do it and I believed I could do it," she said.
When she took over Ocean Property, the group's main property assets were office buildings, including Ocean Tower 1 and Ocean Tower 2. It also owned several hundred hectares of undeveloped land in various parts of the country. She had to operate the office buildings to meet customer demand and began to develop some of the group's land.
From that rather humble beginning, Nusara, now 45, presides over a family business with properties worth up to Bt10 billion. They include hospitality businesses, residential projects and office buildings.
The hospitality businesses include Ocean Marina Yacht Club at Phuket, Samui Bandara Resort and Spa and Hua Hin's Asara Villa and Suites.
Residential projects include Ocean Portofino Condominium on Pattaya's Jomtien Beach, O2 HIP Condominium on Wireless Road, Bangkok, and Ocean Villas residential project at Hua Hin. The three residential projects are still under construction and are due for completion next year.
The company still runs Ocean Tower 1 and Ocean Tower 2.
"Our business policy is to develop niche property projects - both residential and hospitality - because we believe that by developing 'different' projects, we will have a sales advantage over our competitors," she says.
Business policy also saw Nusara delay the construction of five projects worth nearly Bt5 billion when the property market slumped into only marginal growth this year.
Nusara says the company is not listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand and consequently it is not under pressure to make more revenue and can afford to avoid business risks.
"My company's philosophy is to do well and be stable, rather than face risks, because I have to take care of my staff and make sure everything works well for our customers. If I was concerned only to make more money by launching more property projects, I maybe could not develop quality products for our customers. But when I develop two or three projects a year, most of them offer quality products that keep my staff working and my customers satisfied. That will become goodwill for our business," she says, adding that her father taught her that customer satisfaction should be the first priority in doing business.
At present, Ocean Property is developing four property projects worth Bt3.7 billion, on which construction began last year. Apart from the two Hua Hin projects, it is developing Ocean Portofino Condominium on Jomtien Beach in Pattaya and O2 HIP Condominium on Wireless Road, Bangkok.
Nusara says she was given a good opportunity when her father assigned her to the property business, although she still doesn't understand why the property business was given to her, as an only daughter, instead of to one of her two older brothers. She is content in the belief that her father had faith in her and was careful to assign her to the best job.
"I often think: why didn't I study architecture or engineering, to suit the property business? But I know that although I graduated with a business degree, I can manage the property business because I have a good staff and my staff is willing to work hard with me. My staff is the heart of my business success, so I believe that when I create the perfect system for my business, that it will run itself," Nusara says.