THE career of this woman with a ready smile is indeed on the right track. Lena Thong has built a career in the property business over the last 14 years. Today she is president director of Marquee Executive Office, a serviced office property company that is thriving in major cities, including Jakarta.
Born in Jakarta on July 20, 1968 and a graduate of York University in Toronto, Canada, majoring in Business Administration Studies, Lena said her educational background played an important role in her career. “What I most frequently do is to make a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis for the company. I also see where people will be more open-minded, active in discussions, aggressive in addressing a problem and motivating the group,” Lena said.
Lena began her career in the property business when she joined PT First Pacific Davies in 1994 as a marketing executive. Two years later, she joined PT Procon Indah as a senior marketing executive. Less than a year later, she was appointed assistant marketing manager.
She was then assigned to manage a project at Menara Kadin building in 1997. At that time, Indonesia was experiencing an economic crisis making it difficult for the company to reach its sales target. However, it was not typical of Lena to give up easily. She fought hard and refused to buckle under the pressure. Her perseverance bore fruit. She was later offered an attractive position as a center manger with Plaza Business Center, a Hong Kong-based multinational company. “The company leases office space with comprehensive services. It was there that I learned more about managing a company and human resources management,” she said.
In October 2006, the management of Plaza Business Center decided to sell Plaza Business Center worldwide. “I was certain there would be an uptrend in the business I was running then. So I plucked up the courage to set up my own company together with the building owner or developer of Menara Karya, Solidi Korompis,” she said.
The eight years at Plaza Business Center saw a great improvement in her skills, giving her confidence in her own foray into the business through her company, Marquee Executive Office. Lena believes she has inherited the spirit of entrepreneurship from her parents, who are also businesspeople.
Today Marquee Executive Offices are located on the 11th floor of Mayapada Tower, the 28th floor Menara Karya and the 28th floor of Talaera Office Park. “What’s certain is that the three companies I joined have all contributed to my personal development. When I worked at Procon Indah and First Pacific Davies, I learned a lot about sales strategy, negotiation skills and presentation skills, while at Plaza Business Center I learned more about human resources management. Learning is a never ending journey and every day there is always something to learn. I believe we need to be passionate about everything we do,” said Lena.
Lena indeed loves her work. “This is a dynamic business. Serviced offices basically provide a place that is ready to rent. There are many new venture companies looking for serviced offices because we offer flexibility and are cost efficient. Here I can develop a solid network and frequently meet new businessmen with different business lines. So, for me every day is a new challenge,” she said.
A company is not set up with just a wave of the hand. However, some business players in major cities in the world consider serviced offices a promising business. Lena was observant enough to seize this business opportunity. A serviced office is the answer to the needs of business players in major cities all over the world, including Jakarta.
A serviced office must be strategically located. That’s why a company leasing office space must operate in the central business district (CBD) or at least in a location deemed strategic. Lena said she was optimistic that the serviced office business would quickly become a trend. “The way I see it, Indonesia, which is a developing country with quite a large population, must create a good market. There are many companies that require a representative office, for example to study the market and see the opportunities available in Indonesia. What they surely need is a small office with sufficient facilities that can be set up immediately,” she said.
Lena has always focused on the long-term development of her company. In her opinion, she must make sure that the company has a solid foundation for future development. For this purpose, she must upgrade the existing system and make sure the company’s operations work under that system. “It is also necessary to be able to measure the human resources’ contribution to or participation in the company to make sure our systems are followed as expected. Once our foundation is sufficiently solid, we will think of franchising for further expansion,” she said.
Although Marquee is a domestic company, Lena said, it has earned recognition from its international clients. “Marquee focuses on service excellence, keeps up with the latest technology to support its services and is continuously making improvements,” Lena said.
A serviced office is often associated with an instant office because in the case of the former the service is indeed fast and instant. In principle, a serviced office and an instant office are relatively the same. However the two are distinguished by their facilities, the services given and the needs that must be met for a company or individual using the service. “Marquee Executive Offices creates an image; it’s an office for executives,” Lena said.
Serviced offices are now enjoying greater popularity among executives as seen from the increasing demand for this type of office. To be able to embrace the market, Lena said, her company must have a strong business network. Consistency and commitment are the two aspects that must be impressed upon each client. According to Lena, her latest project goal is state-of-the-art conference centers. “Video conferencing is also one of the on-going project focuses,” she said. (Iwan Suci Jatmiko)
The Jakarta Post, September 10, 2008