THAILAND TATLER x
BRIGHTON COLLEGE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL BANGKOK
Both Nusara and Varissara, or Risa, of the renown Assakul family have excelled in their education and business, with Nusara being a Mater Dei alum before attending Sacred Heart High School in California. She then attended UCLA for her Bachelor’s degree and MBA, both of which she received the Dean’s Honor List.
After graduation, Nusara began her career path at both Ocean Property and Ocean Life Insurance. At Ocean Property, she was involved in many projects including Ocean Marina Yacht Club, San Marino Condominium, Ocean Portofino Condominium, Asara Villa and Suite, Ocean Tower 1 and 2 office buildings and O2 Hip Condominium. In January 2010, she was appointed the President and Director of Ocean Life Insurance and has been at the helm of more than 2,000 employees there for nearly eight years.
As for Risa, she studied the IB Diploma at one of the leading international schools in Bangkok, then continued her studies at New York University, acquiring a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies and Economics in 2014.
As soon as she completed her degree, Risa relocated back to Bangkok and started working full-time as a Project Development Executive at Ocean Property. Within less than two years, Risa successfully supported the development of various plots of land in Thailand. And now she has undertaken an additional, challenging role, as the Project Coordinator and Facilities and Estates Manager at Brighton College Bangkok, to help ensure its successful launch and development.
Thailand Tatler talks to the two bright beauties about their passion in the business of education.
@Nusara: Before starting Brighton College Bangkok, why did decide to focus your career on Ocean Life Insurance? What drew you into it?
When Thailand was facing the Tom Yum Goong crisis, Ocean Life Insurance faced many problems in its investments, causing the company to track debt. At that time, my dad asked me to help at the company as I have a specialisation in Finance. However, I had to then make a difficult choice between staying at Ocean Property or moving to Ocean Life insurance. I always liked working at Ocean Property because I was passionate about real estate, but Ocean Life Insurance is very important to the Assakul family and has been for more than 66 years. As a result, I chose to leave Ocean Property to fully join Ocean Life Insurance. Today Ocean Life Insurance is growing every year, the company is worth more than 92 billion baht with annual profits of around 1,000 million baht.
@Nusara: What made you decide to step into the educational industry by bringing Brighton College into Thailand?
I have always believed in the importance of education; having a good education gives you the secure foundations for whatever you want to do in your life. When I was young, my parents decided to send me abroad to study to receive a level of education that was not available domestically. A lot of parents forced themselves to do the same thing for the sake of their children’s brighter future, even though they did not want to be parted from them. Over the years I have been looking for ways to bring a world-class education to Thailand, that also supports the rise of educational standards in Thailand. After much research into the leading schools around the world I travelled to the UK and met with the team at Brighton College in the South of England and can clearly remember my first visit to the school. I was incredibly impressed by the inspirational teaching-learning concept there. The pupils were extremely motivated to learn, they showed respect and wanted to achieve the very best of themselves without being forced. After discussions with the Head Master, Richard Cairns, I was drawn to his philosophy and vision which had so successfully elevated Brighton College to the number 1 co-educational school in the UK. I knew right away that this school was very special and its philosophy, innovations and ethos of excellence would translate well in a Thai setting.
@Risa: How did you get involved in the Brighton College Bangkok project?
After my aunt made her decision to bring Brighton College to Bangkok, I joined the team as a Project Coordinator, to ensure smooth communications between the UK and Thailand teams. During the first phase of this project, I was the key in making sure that Brighton College UK’s expectations, requirements and philosophies were applied to whatever we did here in Thailand. Moreover, because of my experience at Ocean Property and my passion for architecture and design, I oversaw the construction of Brighton College Bangkok’s Pre-Prep and Prep and Senior School, as well as the other campus facilities including the state of the art sports complex and Performing Arts Centre. I have been involved with everything that I could, from ordering Library books to designing the tiling in the 50m swimming pool, in order to put my experience to good use and to learn from others at the same time.
@Risa: What challenges did you encounter when working on this project?
At first, I expected everything to move forward according to the master schedule. However, I learnt that contractors like to work on their own schedule! This initially stressed me out, but I soon realised that in order to get the job done, there is no time for stress but only time to take a breath and work with our experienced team to figure out the solution. I have learnt a lot from this project, such as the design and building requirements for a school, which are at times more complex than the other types of building developments that I previously been involved with when working at Ocean Property. In a school, health and safety is one aspect you need to keep as one of the most important priorities during operations, and this can be challenging when you are also managing an operational construction site at the same time!
Another challenge I faced was that the timeline of construction cannot be delayed because the school’s opening date is set. While at times, the problems seemed to be never ending, these challenges really pushed me to reach, and exceed, my own potential.
@Risa: Please share with us the key takeaways from your involvement in this project.
In order to make Brighton College Bangkok one of the best international schools in Thailand, I have visited many other international schools all over the world in order to learn more about this sector as a whole. I have also acquired a lot of knowledge about the international school market in Thailand. More and more parents are willing and able to invest in their children's education. Another crucial aspect is the ability to effectively communicate with both foreigners and Thais – you can be direct and precise when communicating to foreigners, but often the Thai way is a little more soft and indirect, for example.
With the energy of these two strong women – Nusara and Varissara Assakul – behind Brighton College Bangkok, along with the school’s unflinching concept of individualised and inspirational teaching to ensure each child becomes the best version of themselves possible, it is without doubt that Brighton College Bangkok will become one of the leading schools in South East Asia. The College’s key message focuses on “inspiration, innovation and excellence” and this is acutely reflected by the two generations of the Assakul family who form the backbone to Brighton College International School Bangkok.
For more information, visit brightoncollege.ac.th