Through my job here in Thailand I am always meeting new working expats from all over the country although mainly in Bangkok. Prior to working in Thailand I spent over 10 years working in London. The two companies I worked for in the UK were Coca-Cola Enterprises and the Post Office and I held various roles in that time from account management to more strategic roles. My head office in Thailand is still Pattaya, where I initially set up, but my time now is increasingly spent in Bangkok.
I was out for a meal with a successful German entrepreneur just the other week and the topic of staff came up, which is quite usual actually. It was the usual small talk about the struggle to find good Thai staff, interestingly he refuses to have direct contact with Thai employees and makes sure all his senior team that report to him are foreign. “I work too fast for Thais, they cannot keep up” was his rationale. This guy is smart by the way and repeatedly having success in business set ups, I would love to tell you the brands, but trust me you use at least two of them in Thailand.
I then discussed my plight working in Pattaya and in finding decent professional working expats, as with very few exceptions they just don’t exist. He laughed and said not to expect that to change if I relocated the business to Bangkok. His next move was Singapore.
It shocked me, I always felt Bangkok had a good mix of working expats. I have certainly come across quite a few in recent months from country managers of hotel chains, to business owners of large companies and even many small new set ups. I guess what he was saying is they are the exception.
The timing of his comments came at the wrong time as we were dining with my wife present, and she is looking for any excuse to relocate back to the UK. But his comments stopped me in my tracks, was my impending move to Bangkok going to give the enrichment I was so looking for?
In true Dan fashion I thought I would throw the question out on my Facebook and Twitter pages and see what the market thought. The results suggested he may have a point. 79% of the 48 replies on Twitter agreed with him that Bangkok suffers from a lack of quality and 68% from the 76 replies on Facebook seconded that feeling.
But still rather than just taint expats in Thailand, I could probably say the same for many workers who operate outside the main towns and cities of this world – and not everyone I worked with in London would I call grade ‘A’ material too.
I am not suffering from delusions of grandeur either, I recognise my own failings. But at this stage of my career – I am 42 years old – I need to make it count. When I first came to Thailand over 10 years ago for the first 4 years I wasted my time and did nothing; my parents had both died relatively young and I just wanted to get away from everything. Now I am back to how I was before, ruthlessly ambitious and driven. Although I am very comfortable with my life now, I want more and I am in race to get there. I have two young children and a decent school in Thailand is going to knock me back one million baht a year, it’s ridiculous fees but I don’t want to compromise their education because of me choosing Thailand to live. It is not fair on them.
I am not sure also how this blog will be received by others, but I want people to absolutely understand where I am with things living in Thailand. Better to be upfront than just give people what they want to read. However I do hope you find the blogs and vlogs at least interesting opinion.
So, the question of finding good quality expats to surround myself with, to enrich and add opinion to my ideas, is very important for me at this stage of my life. For now I think Bangkok does have enough good working expats, you just need to go looking for them. Are the expats working in Thailand any good then? Well it’s marginal but yes they do exist.