From marketing to malls

Thai marketing graduate reflects on his journey from studying in Melbourne to changing tourist perceptions in Bangkok

When most tourists think of Thailand they imagine resorts, amazing cuisine and an exotic culture. Phattawit Boonyachai wants tourists to think of…shopping malls. As International Marketing Manager at Central Pattana Public Company Limited (CPN), Thailand’s largest retail developer with 30 shopping malls, his aim is to attract more international visitors when they visit Thailand for holidays or work. Sitting at his desk on the 30th floor of the offices at Central World in downtown Bangkok, Boonyachai reflects on the four years since he completed his Master of Management (Marketing) degree at Melbourne Business School, the experiences which set him up for success, and what it was like to study in Australia.

A lot of students aspire to work in a marketing manager role. Can you tell us what a typical day is like for you?
There is no typical day, which is one of the things I like about marketing. It’s always different. To give you some insight into what I do, this was my dairy from a day last week:

8.30 – 10: Checked e-mail, created a priority to-do list and assigned work to my team  
10.00 - 12.00: Met with my team for a ‘work in process’ session. Basically, this where I make sure everyone is on track with their projects
13.00-14.30: Met with our media agency on creating a video and banner to be used online and discussed the target market for this campaign
15.00- 18.00: Prepared a presentation, a report on team performance and budget allocation for an upcoming executive meeting
18.30-19.30: Professional development – each day I try and set aside some time for self-reflection, learning and thinking about new initiatives.

Phattawit Boonyachai
Phattawit Boonyachai

What are some of the main challenges for CPN with attracting foreign tourists?
The main challenge is perception. People don’t think of shopping malls when they think of Thailand, so we are aiming to deliver a highly satisfying experience for international customers who do visit, and create a reason to visit for pre-arrival tourists.

You seem very happy working in marketing. Yet, you studied economics for your undergraduate degree. What caused you to make the swap?
What I enjoyed about economics was its connection to driving human emotion, like behavioural economics. I then thought, marketing can also play a major role in our decision-making process, so I decided to do my master’s degree in marketing to develop a skillset that I could combine with my economics background. This has allowed me to have a strong connection to cost and outcome (the economics side) as well as be able to develop tools to intervene in those outcomes (the marketing side).

Tell us more about your studies at Melbourne Business School (MBS). What were the highlights of your master’s studies?
For me, there were three definite highlights:
Firstly, MBS’ Practicum subjects, which allow students to work in teams on a consulting project for a real company. My team went to Singapore where we worked on a project for BlueScope around increasing the efficiency of their sales. Due to a community price standard, we couldn’t change the retail price but discovered there were savings to be made around production.

The practical experience I gained from the Global Business Practicum (GBP) and the marketing skills I obtained from the degree helped me land my first jobs at Siam City Cement group as a Market Analyst. Phattawit Boonyachai

Secondly, the thinking framework I acquired from my studies at MBS has been so important in my career. I now have structures I can apply to any situation to create the most effective outcome.

I truly believe I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the skills I learnt at Melbourne Business School.

Lastly, the connections and friendships I have made. My classmates and I really supported each other and I met so many people from all over the world. It has been a great experience.

It’s a big decision to move overseas to study. What made you choose Australia and Melbourne Business School?
My brother was actually living in Melbourne at the time so I’d heard from him about the great lifestyle people enjoy in Melbourne, the mild weather, and comfortable, clean city. I also discovered that the food is a great mix of Asian and Western cultures. It was comforting to be able to still buy food I was familiar with, as well as try new things.

The reason I decided on Melbourne Business School is simple: I did a search on the rankings and it came out on top. I also liked that with their Master of Management programs, I could choose to specialise – in my case, marketing – but also learn general management skills which I continue to find useful in my current role.

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