Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thai Premier League – Experiencing a Whole New World

I spent the whole of last week in Bangkok, a place that I’ve always desired to explore yet surprisingly have never been to.  My opportunity finally came during a conversation with one of the partners of Libero Sports in Santa Monica, California a few weeks back. It became clear that it makes sense to begin pitching our consulting services to some of the Thai Premier League clubs our Libero Sports Japan colleagues have been supplying players to over the years.   Next thing I know is that  two weeks later I’m on a Thai airways red-eye flight heading directly to Bangkok.  
With Libero Sports colleagues and some of the Japanese players we represent
currently playing in the Thai Premier League
The entire week was full of excitement.  My colleagues in our Japan office have built strong relationships with a number of key influencers within the Thai Football industry which opened up the doors to a series high profile meetings with Thai Premier League club owners, general managers, players, agents and middle-men who have a unique ability to connect the dots. 

Playing Friday night pick up football in the outskirts of Bangkok
It was honestly a fascinating experience. After 7 years of sitting through agenda-driven corporate meetings in the US and 5 years sitting through un-structured corporate meetings in India, this was a completely new way of doing business.  These Thai club owners are all about building healthy relationships and winning at all costs, thus creating a completely different type of professional interaction.  Most of our meetings took place at fancy dinners which eventually turned into more discussions at some of Bangkok’s best clubs.  By the end of these long, eventual evenings, it felt like I had made new friends more than secured potential clients. There was a more collegial feel to the whole situation vs. corporate, something which I can truly appreciate. 

The city is electric and a place which I hope to work in many times over the next few years.  It was the right mix of football, fun and adventure which is what had me choose to enter this industry in the first place.  Plus, I see my professional growth taking me to this part of the world and I’m clear that the only way to truly understand South East Asia is to throw myself straight into the deep end which is what I’m ready to do. 



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