SERENDIP­ITY…

Prestige (Singapore) - - AGENDA -

…grit, gen­eros­ity and go­ing with the flow. JAELLE ANG, founder of co-work­ing space The Great Room, shares how these have shaped her life, writes gemma koh it’s no coin­ci­dence that The Great Room feels like a lux­ury ho­tel with its art by lo­cally based artists, retro-chic fur­ni­ture and view of Chi­na­town and the Sin­ga­pore River.

“Peo­ple love meet­ing in ho­tel lob­bies — whether so­cial or busi­ness,” says its founder and CEO Jaelle Ang. The Great Room, which opened in June, doesn’t just tap into the econ­omy of shar­ing real es­tate in the CBD and of­fice sup­port ser­vices for in­creas­ingly mo­bile and fast-grow­ing new econ­omy busi­nesses. It’s also chang­ing the way peo­ple feel about go­ing to work and cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for en­coun­ters that could lead to new ideas and col­lab­o­ra­tions.

A concierge takes care of all things of­fice-re­lated so that mem­bers — from Fin­tech ris­ing star Xero to hos­pi­tal­ity brand De­sign Ho­tels, who have ded­i­cated bases there — can con­cen­trate on their core busi­ness. Perks in­clude Mon­day break­fasts to go with the free Papa Pal­heta cof­fee and events from whisky-tast­ing to yoga.

Two weeks af­ter hos­pi­tal­ity spe­cial­ist Dis­tillery Stu­dio was signed on to de­sign the space, it an­nounced its merger with of­fice de­signer Has­sell, whose work in­cludes Google in Sin­ga­pore and Alibaba in China. “It was pretty iconic — a mar­riage of hos­pi­tal­ity and work­place,” says Ang on gain­ing the best of both worlds.

Ang and her co-founders have their sights on grow­ing The Great Room into a man­age­ment brand — “the Four Sea­sons of the co-work­ing world” — across dif­fer­ent cities. Her part­ners are her hus­band and Whar­ton-trained CFO Yian Huang, and his sis­ter and director of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, Su Anne Mi.

Ang says she couldn’t have forseen how her ex­pe­ri­ence — an Ar­chi­tec­ture de­gree, an MBA from Lon­don’s Im­pe­rial Col­lege, and work in merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions, and emerg­ing mar­kets at Citibank and Credit Suisse — would come to­gether to give her the ad­van­tage of un­der­stand­ing both aes­thet­ics and num­bers needed to do real es­tate.

Har­vard-bound to do a Mas­ters in Real Es­tate in early 2009, Ang was hol­i­day­ing in Las Ve­gas when she met a Ben Taechaubol, who was there for work. “He said: ‘You can’t learn real es­tate in a class­room. Come do some­thing real’.” So she went to Bangkok to see land by the Chao Phraya river and, af­ter a few meet­ings, left Credit Suisse, “a big branded job in a rea­son­ably glam­orous in­dus­try to go to a no-name com­pany in an emerg­ing mar­ket” with only the no­tion of “build­ing some­thing in­cred­i­ble on land that was still a smelly fish mar­ket.”

“We were barely 30-years-old and peo­ple thought it was fool­ish to start a real es­tate com­pany,” she says.

Coun­try Group De­vel­op­ment PCL, where Taechaubol is CEO, is now listed on the Stock Ex­change of Thai­land (SET). Its mixed-use lux­ury de­vel­op­ment in­cludes a Capella ho­tel, Four Sea­sons ho­tel and the first Four Sea­sons Pri­vate Res­i­dences ex­pected to open in 2018. Ang re­cently re­lin­quished her role as head of de­vel­op­ment though she re­mains on their board — as its youngest and only fe­male mem­ber.

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