Meet the New Age IN­FLU­ENCERS

Ex­clu­sive Fea­ture

THE MAN Magazine Cambodia - - Front Page - BY MONIKA SIM

What in­dus­try do you work in?

Ar­chi­tec­ture, De­sign, Con­struc­tion and Plant nurs­ery.

You own and run your own ar­chi­tec­ture firm as well as work for the City Hall and coun­cil, please elab­o­rate, what do you do in par­tic­u­lar?

Vannak-Ar­chi­tect (VA) is the name of my firm; we pro­vide ar­chi­tec­tural con­cept, de­sign and pro­ject re­al­i­sa­tion. At the city hall I de­sign, im­ple­ment and su­per­vise sev­eral ur­ban projects es­pe­cially the public work field re­lated to the master plan of Ph­nom Penh.

Would you think you have a good bal­ance of Kh­mer and Euro­pean cus­toms and tra­di­tions?

I think I have a great bal­ance be­cause I left Cam­bo­dia at a good age. I had the chance to ac­quire a good level of kh­mer lan­guage and cul­ture but still young enough to be able to adapt my­self in a for­eign coun­try de­spite some dif­fi­cul­ties at first. I grad­u­ated Preah Sisowath high school in Ph­nom Penh

“Cam­bo­dia’s nat­u­ral rich­ness, di­verse Cam­bo­dian cul­ture and ac­cess to some in­no­vat­ing tech­nol­ogy pro­vide to us many pos­si­bil­i­ties to build a very green Cam­bo­dia in many senses”

in 1998, then spent 12 years study­ing and work­ing in Paris.

Which do you iden­tify with the most?

Even though I lived in France for a long time I would al­ways come to Cam­bo­dia to see my fam­ily and friends. I stayed in touch with Kh­mer lan­guage, cul­ture and history. Although I iden­tify my­self as a Cam­bo­dian I still keep my Paris habits and lifestyle.

What po­ten­tial do you see here?

The past 5 years in Ph­nom Penh, many build­ings are bloom­ing around us. Re­newal and con­struc­tion are as­sets for this coun­try to im­prove life con­di­tions of Cam­bo­dian’s af­ter decades of war. I think I can par­tic­i­pate in this new era and pro­vide my skills from abroad with lo­cal po­ten­tial for a bet­ter to­mor­row.

Are there par­tic­u­lar ser­vices you can­not find here that would be eas­ier to ac­cess in France?

Of course, ev­ery­day I work and find my­self in dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions. Ac­ces­si­bil­ity to in­for­ma­tion and data is a chal­lenge for pro­ject stud­ies. In my field, we need spe­cific and di­verse com­pe­tence com­bined with good ref­er­ences, which are dif­fi­cult to find in Cam­bo­dia, for that mat­ter, Asia. It’s harder for me be­cause I tend to be a per­fec­tion­ist in my work. Ex­cel­lent re­sults are achiev­able but you need to be per­se­ver­ing.

What are your goals?

Firstly, im­prove the qual­ity of ar­chi­tec­ture and con­struc­tion for the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion be­cause we live in a par­tic­u­lar en­vi­ron­men­tal habi­tat, hot and hu­mid. Se­condly, give the op­por­tu­nity to the young gen­er­a­tion to gain skills, com­pe­tence and knowl­edge for their own fu­ture suc­cess. Lastly, prove that Cam­bo­dia has a real po­ten­tial of green and sus­tain­able growth. This said, in­clud­ing nat­u­ral and hu­man re­sources.

What is your core belief when it comes to ar­chi­tec­ture and your busi­nesses- al­low­ing peo­ple to be cre­ative, yet cre­ate the home that they dream of, with prac­ti­cal and eco­log­i­cally friendly ben­e­fits?

We live in a fi­nan­cially poor coun­try but rich in a lot of other as­pects like nat­u­ral and hu­man re­sources. This sit­u­a­tion in­cites us to be cre­ative if we want to find re­silient so­lu­tions for many prob­lems in so­ci­eties de­vel­op­ment. I’m con­vinced that we can build af­ford­able beau­ti­ful home if we have enough cre­ative and in­no­va­tive ideas, we should ex­ploit the most of our po­ten­tial. Cam­bo­dia’s nat­u­ral rich­ness, di­verse Cam­bo­dian cul­ture and ac­cess to some in­no­vat­ing tech­nol­ogy pro­vide to us many pos­si­bil­i­ties to build a very green Cam­bo­dia in many senses.

How has liv­ing and work­ing in Europe in­flu­enced or changed your per­spec­tive on how things are done here?

ADAP­TA­TION. You can’t ex­pect Euro­pean stan­dards in Cam­bo­dia as of now but you cer­tainly have peo­ple who are will­ing to learn, to prac­tice then to suc­ceed. Apart my aca­demic ex­pe­ri­ences, I can get more from my life ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing those years in Paris. I was ex­posed to a dif­fer­ent world where ev­ery­thing has gone far from where we are at here, Although, I’ve col­lected many good ref­er­ences to adapt to lo­cal con­text, to avoid er­rors of de­vel­oped world in the past. Cam­bo­dia goes global very fast in a short time.

Any dif­fi­cul­ties you have come across (in terms of con­struc­tion, is it hard to find peo­ple who are spe­cialised in ar­eas you re­quire?

Dur­ing al­most 5 years of my work ex­pe­ri­ence in Ph­nom Penh, I have met so many dif­fi­cul­ties when I want to reach high level of fin­ish­ing. The lake of skilled labour is a very se­ri­ous prob­lem in the con­struc­tion field. Most of work­ers have started their job on con­struc­tion site, pre­ci­sions and de­tails are not their forte but they are per­se­ver­ing. Giv­ing self-con­fi­dence to peo­ple work­ing on my projects can be so con­struc­tive; this can pay back to me an ul­ti­mate sat­is­fac­tion. I have to be very pa­tient, com­pre­hen­sive and ped­a­gogue, and then re­sults of­ten have sur­passed my ex­pec­ta­tions.

Do you have any ad­vice for any­one who plans to set up a busi­ness in Cam­bo­dia?

Cam­bo­dia is a de­vel­op­ing coun­try; there are var­i­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties of busi­ness. Lots of things need to done to re­spond to a fast grow­ing pop­u­la­tion’s needs. There­fore it seems to be hard or­gan­ise, hard to have ef­fi­ciency etc… Peo­ple who want to set up their busi­ness in Cam­bo­dia should study about in­con­ve­niences and ad­van­tages they can get in here but the truth is we have a lot of pos­si­bil­i­ties and op­por­tu­ni­ties. Ca­pac­ity build­ing is the key of ac­cess to a suc­cess­ful busi­ness. You need to be cre­ative, orig­i­nal and suit­able to the lo­cal sit­u­a­tion be­cause com­pe­ti­tion is rude in here nowa­days.

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