Name : Jaume Tarrago
Position : General Manager
When did you first come to Myanmar and what was your impression then?
I first visited Myanmar back in September 2007. At that time, I was travelling the country on vacation when my visit suddenly took an unexpected turn. As you may recall, it was the time of the Saffron Revolution.
My first memories of Myanmar are therefore a bittersweet mix of beautiful smiles, thousands of temples, marvellous food, and flashbacks on monks walking one after the other. One of my most vivid memories takes me back to September 27, 2007. I was on Sule Pagoda Road when armed forces started advancing on the protestors and we decided to shelter at the Traders Hotel, now Shangri-La Hotel, a few meters away from our premium Hintha location at Sule Square. It is amazing to see how everything has changed that much in such little time.
Sure when we left the country on the following day, we struggled to put together the pieces and memories of an unforgettable month, spent in a breath-taking country of kind-hearted people under striking historical circumstances.
What is your impression now?
Nine years have passed and the changes have been astounding. There is yet a long way to go for Myanmar, but the political and economic transformation so far proves people’s determination to improve their life and their country. I am amazed by Myanmar people’s resilience and their willingness to develop further.
How did you end up as the general manager of Hintha Business Centres?
Somehow I managed to convince Anthem Asia Board of Directors!
Let’s say that I am a Development Economist with a professional background in general, finance and strategic management either as part of international institutions or as in-house consultant basically in the private and third sector, and to add on that I have experience in what refers facilities and serviced offices management in Tanzania.
Sharing a bit more, since 2003 I have been deployed for shorter or longer periods of time in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, Morocco in Africa, Bolivia in South America or Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar in South East Asia. For all this I consider myself the luckiest man on Earth! I have not only savoured what brings living abroad in these different countries, but also deeply incorporated what personally and professionally implied working in such international environment. Now the time has come to focus on a new promising challenge acting as Hintha’s GM, investment belonging to Anthem Asia, an independent investment and advisory group dedicated to building and supporting sustainable businesses in Myanmar.
Please explain to our reader about Hintha Business Centres. Why was the Hintha chosen as symbol?
The logo of Hintha Business Centres represents two hamsa (or hintha) birds in recollection of an ancient local legend.
During a flood, two Hintha birds could only find a small rock poking above the floodwaters as a place to rest. The male bird landed on the rock first, with the female following suit and standing on his back until the waters subsided.
The imagery of the two “partner” birds, one supporting the other, mirrors Hintha Business Centres’ values in seeking to support new businesses and organisations entering the Myanmar market.
How different is it working with stakeholders in Myanmar compared to other countries?
Working in Myanmar can be quite challenging. However I have fortunately had a good training in other developing countries before getting to Yangon, so I presume a number of the situations I might face during my career here could be attenuated by my experiences before
The less we can agree on that I am ready to be professionally surprised by Myanmar, and that I am willing to continue engrossing the tales I will tell my grandson and granddaughters!
At the end, as for our customers and partners, the vast majority are either international or foreign-based, which pushes our standards and services to continuously evolve and improve.
What is your occupancy rate like?
Hintha@Merchant Street, our flagship business centre at Merchant Street, offers serviced offices, hot desks, co-working spaces, and meeting rooms. The variety of our services has given us a very strong customer base, and we currently have an occupancy rate close to 85%.
Our newly-opened business centre, Hintha@Sule Square is located in Yangon’s newest commercial development, Sule Square. Our premium facilities have been well received in the market, and in the short span of a few weeks, we have got our first occupants. In addition to serviced offices, our modern meeting rooms have already been used for conferences and events. They are fully equipped with videoconferencing and smart TV facilities, a unique offering in Yangon.
Do you have new plans for investment in Myanmar, apart from Hintha@Sule and Hintha@Merchant Street?
Serviced offices and co-working spaces constantly need to innovate and provide new services and offerings. Having just opened Hintha@Sule Square, we are naturally planning to improve our current services in both locations by starting a thoughtful differentiation strategy for both centres. We want to be renowned for the charismatic and charming of our Hintha@ Merchant Street and the co-working and hot desk facilities we offer there, and on the other side, increase the reach and presence of our new premium business centre located at Sule Square.
By the end of this 2017 we predict we will have succeeded not only at meeting our customers’ professional needs as we do today, but also at exceeding their expectations with new innovations and approaches.
Please explain to our readers about your pricing.
Hintha Business Centres offers a wide range of business services, and prices vary accordingly.
If you are looking for an office in Yangon, you can rent one of our serviced offices from $650 per workstation at Hintha@Merchant Street, and from $850 per workstation at Hintha@Sule Square, even though we are case-sensitive and are offering both venue sponsorships and some special promotions. Payment is on a monthly basis, which means that flexibility in services and leases is our top priority. To put it more simply, you can rent as much space as you need, for as long as you need.
An increasing number of clients is registering their office with us from only $200 a year. This means that international and local companies legally register their address in Myanmar at our renowned locations.
For start-ups and small companies, our hot desks and co-working packages offer a more attractive solution to a cumbersome long-term lease. Hot-desks are available for $6.5 a day, whereas co-working spaces start from $10.5 a day.
Our meeting rooms provide an affordable alternative to hotels’ meeting rooms ($20-$90 per hour depending on the size and venue). We even provide catering, printing and staff support!
From a business standpoint, what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing you and your team in next 1-3 years?
Some of our biggest challenges are common to other businesses in Yangon and to the country at large.
Myanmar is currently experiencing one of the largest growth rate trend in the world. This is an incredible opportunity, which has already improved the lives of many across the country. If the current growth rate is not sustained by a long-term vision, however, development may turn into a dangerous pathway. As a fast developing country, Myanmar is in need of more skilled staff and educated employees that may drive the economy forward. Reducing the high turnover rate as the lack of human capital in critical role or low motivation among many others is key.
To strategically develop the economy, it is also imperative to foresee the country’s future needs and capacities, and education takes an important role on the future to come to Myanmar.
I am looking forward to the time HR headaches are not any more top 1 amongst companies in Myanmar,
If you could change one major government policy, what would it be?
After long, Myanmar is now ruled by a democratic form of government. Now more than ever, it is more important to recognise and shape Myanmar’s early efforts of defining rules and regulations, and the law rather than falling into early criticism.
As development economist, it is therefore relevant to focus on monitoring how the country rolls out its measures. This includes making public spending more efficient and transparent; allocating and mobilising resources across states and regions in a fair a sustainable manner; and supporting a vibrant private sector on a multi-level scale with better access to credit, macroeconomic stability and strengthened public financial management.
How has Hintha contributed to Myanmar communities?
Hintha Business Centres is an enabler, a space for people to get together, shape their dreams and shape the community they want to be in. It’s a place where business and partnerships happen. Indeed, the most relevant actors are the individuals, entrepreneurs, startups, organisations and companies that share their ideas, plans and ambitions at our centres.
At Hintha, we humbly take the effort to offer the best possible space and resources for people to succeed and achieve their goals.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking up to start up a business and invest in Myanmar?
I would suggest that person to contact us at Hintha Business Centres. Just like the tale of the two Hintha birds supporting each other, Hintha Business Centres offers a variety of services to foreign investors and local start-ups, from legal support and business incorporation, to payroll and accounting, and even business matchmaking.
Our services go one step further. When you enter our community at Hintha Business Centres, you also have access to the wider network and connections of Anthem Asia.