Cover Alex Jiaravanont (Photo: Affa Chan/Tatler Hong Kong)

The CP Group executive explains why the city keeps calling him back

Dressed in a slick suit and sitting in a pristine office, an impassioned discussion of Star Wars figurines is the last thing you’d expect to come out of CP Group executive Alex Jiaravanont’s mouth. As he explains the notion of “kitbashing”—a technique where models like the Millenium Falcon are cobbled together from different kits—he says, “I always considered myself a ‘kitbashed’ person.”
 
While Jiaravanont is ethnically Thai-Chinese and was born in Bangkok, his “kitbashed” story is a very Hong Kong one. He spent his early years in the city before studying abroad in the US. Initially, Jiaravanont decided not to work at his family’s business, CP Group, and struck out on his own as an architect moving from Hong Kong to Shanghai and later New York. But something brought him back to the city he calls home.

Above Why Hong Kong is still full of opportunities, according to CP Group’s Alex Jiaravanont (Video: Kevin Cheung/Tatler Hong Kong; Bruce Lee Footage: 2010 Fortune Star Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.)

By this point, his father Apichart Jiaravanont was living in Hong Kong at the time that CP Group—a sprawling Thai business empire and the first foreign company to ever be registered in China—wanted to expand its presence in the city. As time went on and Jiaravanont became a father himself, the idea of making up for lost time began to appeal to him.
 
“I didn’t get to spend much time with my father,” he admits. Jiaravanont decided to leave his job as an architect and joined CP Group, returning to Hong Kong to help develop the business’ investment arm CT Bright as its vice president.
 
More than anything, Jiaravanont says, “I just saw it as an opportunity to reconnect with [my father] because he’s not getting any younger.”

By the time Jiaravanont moved back as an adult, Hong Kong had changed since his early childhood years back in the 70s. Where he once spent his days watching Shaw Brothers’ kungfu movies and bothering corner store owners in his former neighbourhood, he was now experiencing the city as a “centre of commerce” and searching for CT Bright’s newest investment prospects.
 
While CP Group is renowned for its vast international portfolio—with everything from supermarkets, telecommunication companies and thousands of Thailand’s 7/11s under its belt—Jiaravanont explains the Thai company is “very, very much tied to China” with a large base of operations on the mainland. 

However, CP Group’s Hong Kong base is a “strategic location with different purposes” to its other offices allowing for “different levels of involvement”. Having the family business here allows CT Bright to take advantage of Hong Kong’s reputation as an international bridge to the rest of the world, located just a stone’s throw from mainland China.
 
“We’re positioned in a very good place where we actually have someone over here, able to catch those opportunities they might have missed [elsewhere],” he says.
 
More than anything, however, Jiaravanont has gotten what he wanted: a chance to deepen his family bonds. Calling himself “fortunate” that he gets to build the family’s legacy in Hong Kong, Jiaravanont also gets to spend more time with his father—who was born and raised in Thailand, with ancestral roots in Chaozhou—now teaching his own son to speak Thai and Cantonese.

Although Jiaravanont has left his life as an architect behind, one of his old mantras has carried over to his current chapter. He admits he once thought his best days were behind him, but that’s all changed as he’s grown older.
 
“I don’t think there’s always success or failures … just learn from it, go to the next one. I’m very much of an architect’s mentality where your next project is always the best project,” he says.

  • PhotographyAffa Chan
  • VideographyKevin Cheung
  • GroomingAgnes Fung
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