The Smart Thinking Of Arinya Talerngsri
A firm believer in continuous learning, Arinya Talerngsri, the founder, chief capability officer and managing director of Southeast Asia Center (SEAC), part of real estate developer AP Group, has worked with owners and executives of leading Thai and ASEAN organisations such as Minor International, Italthai Group and Siam Commercial Bank over the years to help them grow their capabilities and those of their companies. “When I founded SEAC in 1992 it was known as APM Group,” she says. “It served as a business education consultancy and training resource for corporations, primarily for the top levels of management.”
However, realising that there was a need to help educate not only those already in high decision-making positions but also for setting new learning processes for young professionals and entrepreneurs just entering the workforce, the graduate of Carleton University in Canada began to rethink the company’s business model. “We began to broaden our focus to be more inclusive of the wider business community and rebranded to become SEAC. Today are ASEAN’s first lifelong learning centre. Then and now we seek to teach new thinking process and mindsets related to business operations and innovation so as to empower not just the current generation of business professionals but also those of the future,” Arinya explains.
SEAC offers an array of services including its recently launched YourNextU, a business curriculum that encompasses online courses and programmes combined with face-to-face workshops and activities. “We really have to ensure that we can introduce YourNextU to many different audiences and targets,” she says. “Our aim with this branded learning approach is to help business professionals and workers reach their potential and become more valuable in the digital economy, thereby improving their own lives. This is why we ensure our services are affordable and accessible to all levels within an organisation and to small business owners, freelancers and so on. All can contribute to the growth of the economy.”
Dedicated to her work, Arinya has ambitious goals for the future. “I truly believe everybody can learn and develop new skills at any stage in life,” she says. “This is the kind of mindset that we hope to inspire in as many people as possible. So within 10 years, we want to have reached five million Thai people from all levels of the workforce. I want people across the country to shift their thinking and instill the drive to turn new ideas and ways of doing business into affirmative action.”
So does the happily married wife of American James Engel and mother of 14-year-old daughter Malinee ever switch off? Given her educational bent, it’s not surprising that in her free time Arinya is something of a bookworm. “Reading is a great way to acquire knowledge,” she says. “It keeps me open to new ideas and helps me to not become entrenched in outdated thinking, which is important in a world that is constantly moving forward and changing.”
That said, she is candid when she adds, “I don’t believe in work-life balance…I believe in work-life integration.” So while she makes quality time for family and friends, the majority of her days tend to be filled with virtual coaching sessions and meetings with partners and prospective customers, while her evenings run long into the night with phone calls to overseas partners such as Stanford University’s Center for Professional Development. “Then I get up in the morning and do it all over again,” she laughs, “but I love it.”
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