another publication by IMAGE asia

Desmond Hughes

This month WINDOW on Phuket catches up with an international professional who has been part of the Phuket scene for 10 years.

  Boat Lagoon

It's been a while since we last spoke. What are you doing now?
I've entered into a partnership with Robert Krupica and Khun Pongsak Daengkaew; we've formed HughesKrupica, an international legal services provider, specialising in legal services for the real estate, hospitality and leisure industries.

Bring us up to date on your last few years.
In 2003, I assisted with setting the Phuket office of my former law firm. I went onto own and manage several offices, increasing my investment as I expanded the business into Vietnam and Indonesia and added further offices in Thailand. I trained a diverse mix of associates, some of whom went on to try their hand at being partners in businesses or managing their own offices. Passing on my knowledge and experience to others, whilst continuing to improve my own skills, has been rewarding and satisfying. However, the mission of improvement continues.

Why do you remain committed to Phuket?
I believe, and have witnessed, that Phuket has an amazing diverse mix of business people: successful people, all enjoying the fruits of their success. It's a melting pot of Thai people mixed with foreign interests with a strong base of tourism and related businesses. Every year new hotels, businesses, leisure activities and developments spring up, keeping Phuket a fresh and amazing part of Thailand. Long may that continue.

Do you intend to expand HughesKrupica?
I have no hesitation or fear in expanding our business to other parts of Thailand and jurisdictions, having done this before. But I believe in expansion through balanced and cautious investment, sustainability and smart structuring. That my partners share this vision helps me sleep well at night. We will have representation in Bangkok in due course, but will be clever about the way we service and allow clients to receive services in other jurisdictions, with an emphasis on ensuring quality is not affected through overstretching resources.

What is your work philosophy?
I believe in being happy at work, and passing on this good feeling to clients, colleagues and others.

Where do you live now, and why?
I've lived in most places on the island – even in Patong whilst I got my bearings! But I soon decided that didn't suit me. The first office I worked in was on the very dangerous Patong Hill. I lived for a few years in Chalong and also near Phuket Town, but finally settled on buying a place in Kathu.

Aside from HughesKrupica, do you have any other business interests?
I love the freedom of being in a new business environment with partners who have an aligned way of thinking. This has helped develop a few business ideas. I'm putting together, slowly, a structure for Private Equity Investments in hand-picked projects around the region − but I'm so busy with the legal services business, that I'm making sure I'm not distracted by other opportunities. The investment business is being developed with a view to ensure that no member has to commit too much time, but can contribute their network to the business. This will not be a business centered around any one person – but a group of well connected business people pooling their resources and experience, for the benefit of investments in real projects and opportunities.

As you are not eligible to be a Thai lawyer, how do you maintain your own academic abilities and development?
Thai law is definitely the domain of Thai lawyers − unless and until Thailand ever opens up this profession to foreigners. This could be a possibility under the Asian Economic Community, but that remains to be seen. International lawyers must have an ability to thread together local laws, international practices and client needs - and develop business models while working with Thai lawyers, and lawyers of other nationalities, to deliver a rounded, quality-driven service to clients. There are lots consultants and foreigners in Thailand, many of whom have good professional backgrounds, who can assist with training and development of less senior Thai staff and professionals, to allow the labour market and skills in that market to benefit Thailand. I think working with clients every day also helps refine legal skills and abilities, regardless of nationality. I certainly have a non-xenophobic, all-embracing approach to success in business.

Anything Else?
I recently undertook the Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination in Hong Kong, and thankfully passed those, which for me was a combination of proving that I'm still able to take and pass examinations whilst running a well-staffed business.

What do you do to relax in Phuket?
Well, Phuket residents often see the beach and the beautiful sea, but don’t get much time to enjoy it. Some of my favourite times are when my family visit, and I get to visit them, go to lovely restaurants most nights, and spend time in the swimming pool catching up on family news. I really enjoy the fine dining in Phuket and across Asia. Whenever I travel, I look for the best truly local cuisine, and the recommended fine dining establishments, to get a flavour of the food scene. This is enhanced through my experiences in the Châine Des Rôtisseurs, which is a global club exemplifying all that is passionate about gastronomy. I'm also building up a fairly extensive whisky collection, which is best shared with friends on special occasions.

What do you like and dislike about living in Phuket?
I love the cultural mix, its international feel with the twists of being an island.
I dislike intensely the disregard for human life and safety on the roads, and some of the unnecessary violence. I think better policing and some more focused infrastructure investment over time may improve things, but I certainly don’t qualify to give public opinions on Thai politics. The dinner table, with friends and others, is where
I share my personal views.

Could you tell us about your private life?
I try to be a little more private as I get older, but I'm now married, plan to have a family soon and simply enjoy spending time with my family and close friends.

For Further information about Desmond Hughes
HughesKrupica Consulting Co. Ltd
International Legal Services Provider: Real Estate; Hospitality; Leisure.