WHEN she started out in her working life, Ausana Mahagitsiri was in a hurry to learn everything about the ways of doing business.
As the youngest daughter of Prayudh Mahagitsiri, who owns the PM Group of coffee production fame, Ausana had plenty of guidance to steer her youthful enthusiasm.
As her quest to learn about business grew into a passion, she recalls how she asked her mother Suvimol Mahagitsiri to give her Bt80 million to buy a parcel of land in Ploenchit, in central Bangkok. That was 10 years ago and Ausana hasn't looked back. The acquisition of the land was the first step in bringing her own business idea to life - to build the first condominium project under the brand The Nest, which was developed by The Nest Property Co Ltd.
Ausana, the founder and chief executive officer of The Nest Property, says that the company marked the family's first venture into the property market. And she recalls with pride that she conducted the business as a separate undertaking from the family business.
Ausana said that, after she graduated with a master's degree from a business school programme, she joined the family’s business empire. Initially, she worked in its golf course business, before helping her father in other lines of the family's enterprises.
She had received good grounding with the master's degree, with the school programme being a collaboration between the Sasin School of Management at Chulalongkorn University and the Kellogg Graduate School of Management of Northwestern University in the United States.
It was after this initial period of working in the family businesses that she decided to make the request for the Bt80 million from her mother in order to develop her own entrepreneurial skills.
“After those years of working with the family businesses, I tried to find what I really wanted to do,” Ausana says. “I knew I liked the world of design and architecture, and I also wanted to be a property developer.
“With those thoughts in my minds, I saw a plot of land in Ploenchit for sale, so that was when I decided to borrow the money from my mother to buy the land and develop the condominium project under the brand The Nest Ploenchit.”
Ausana’s first foray into the property market a decade ago was met with success; all the units were sold after the launch of the condominium.
That presented her with the challenge of replicating this success in the residential projects to follow. But she went on to develop residential projects worth more than Bt2 billion a year.
“From my mother’s funding of Bt80 million 10 years ago, we did not need to go into additional money from the money to carry out the expansion of my property business,” Ausana says.
“That was because the success from the sales of the first residential project provided more returns to enable the expansion of the business, which was achieved with an average of two projects a year, generating the average revenue of Bt2 billion a year.”
From that breakthrough in the property business, Ausana says the key to her success is the professionalism of her experienced staff, who would always come up with suggestions for the best ways to tackle an issue and improve the business.
She also learnt quickly what customers want and would have productive discussions with her architecture and interior design teams on providing the details that appeal to buyers of her condominiums.
“I have bought units in all the condominiums developed by my company, sometimes one or two units in each, because I have faith in my projects,” Ausana says. “This stems from my belief that all of my condominium projects are of high quality and the best designs, and that’s why I have added some of the units to my portfolio.”
After laying down firm foundations for the property business that she owns, Ausana has been in a position to help her family manage other businesses within the family’s stable. She is now a director of 28 firms that are owned by the family. She has taken on the full management of two of these companies – the Pizza Hut restaurant chain and transport operator Thoresen Thai Agencies Plc.
“Usually, I have meetings to attend regarding all the businesses for which I am a director, but I have made a decision to make a priority in commitments to two businesses – my property business and the Pizza Hut operation,” Ausana says.
“For Thoresen Thai Agencies, I will join in the meetings and help my older brother to consider solutions that will help the operation of the company.”
Ausana, 37, says she considers herself very lucky that she has had so much support from her family in helping her to bring her business ambitions to fruition. She credits her parents with always being on hand to offer advice and guidance.
She can call on the family brains trust – made up of her father, mother and elder sister and brother – to help her navigate the right path when key business decisions have to be made.
“When I started out in my own business, I was afraid to made the wrong decision, especially since it was a business that that I was carrying out on my own,” she says.
“However, within 10 years of being in the property business, I think I do the right thing more often than I make a wrong move. I think I can take as proof of this that my mother no longer asks me for details of how the business is going.
“Also, I do not need any more financial support from my family, beyond the initial funding of Bt80 million extended by my mother 10 years ago.”
When she looks back her on her start, Ausana she believes her youth gave her an advantage. She was eager to learn the ropes from her family and was always open minded about also taking advice from her employees and making use of the bright ideas they would offer.
This attitude meant she was happy to work away on her own and act on advice as needed, and to also contribute to the other businesses within the family stable.
An example of this came when her family took over a major stake from Yum Restaurants for the management of the Pizza Hut chain in Thailand last year.
Ausana’s family assigned her to manage this business. As with the property business, she brought her with an open-minded spirit that saw her quickly learn from the employees about the on-the-ground situation of the business. She made it clear to them that she is open to new ideas about improving the business.
This attitude helped to build up an in in-depth knowledge of the business and guide her in making the right decisions to enable its expansion. For the property sector, Ausana says she operates the business under a mindset governed by a passion for design and a commitment to the highest standards in construction for residential buildings.
She also relies on the experience of her employees in delivering projects to the market that meet the demands of buyers.
“For me, I think about what kind of building I would like to stay in, and that means it must have quality, function and design to match my own standards and those of the customers,” she says.
“When I am working I love to solve problems that may arise. It makes me happy when I have come up with a solution,” she says.
“I also am lucky to have my family and my employees to support me in how I conduct the business, even as I take on more duties with the responsibilities from my roles in the other family businesses.”
Although Ausana has to work hard in her own business and the other family-run operations, she still ensures she finds time for family activities with her two children at the weekends.
“I am very lucky that my family, husband and kids all understand about my work and we also have the happiest times together. I can work and spend time with my family as I know that both these facets of my life are essential to me,” she says.