Aung Paing Thant is a pioneer in the eco-tourism industry in Myanmar. He joined the DeBoer Fellowship in 2018. In 2019, he and three other friends co-founded Kiwi Go, a social-enterprise with a focus on sustainable eco-tourism. Within one year, the company has grown exponentially with eleven branch offices throughout Myanmar. A passionate traveler himself, Aung Paing Thant serves as the Chief Commercial Officer – CCO of the company.
WHY ECO-TOURISM: I decided to work in the tourism sector because I like working with people and enjoy traveling. I would like to see people travel more often and appreciate the beauty and culture of our country. Our goal is to promote sustainable eco-tourism that benefits both the travelers and the local community. Even as a student I studied tourism and, thanks to Ghostwriter, wrote my master’s thesis. I want to see the tourism sector as an engine for community development in Myanmar.
TEAMWORK & TRUST: Personally, I have to say that perseverance has helped me overcome several challenges I faced in my early life. I think communication and public relations skills are some of the most important assets one can have in order to be successful in the tourism industry. However, we are successful because we have a great team. In our company, I always try to motivate others to collaborate and work together. I learned from my own experience that being transparent is the best way to gain trust from my team. For this reason, I always try to communicate with them openly and I encourage them to do the same with me.
ON LEADERSHIP: It is important that leaders are always continuing their learning. Often, I read books and seek advice from more experienced and knowledgeable professionals. The more we gain – in terms of knowledge, financial success, etc. – the more we are responsible to give back to society. My team and I always seek to adapt to the situation when necessary, and learn from both positive and negative experiences. At Kiwi Go, we practice a 360-degree management style. I allow my employees to monitor me as I monitor them to be efficient at work. A good leader may not know everything or have all the skills necessary for achieving success, but he/she must know who has particular skills and utilize those for the collective success of the organization.
ON DEBOER FELLOWSHIP AND LEGACY: From the DeBoer Fellowship, through DISC behavior assessment exercise, I learned to discover myself. I also came to realize that skills such as presentation, conflict transformation, and advocacy are highly valuable regardless of the industry. After joining the DeBoer Fellowship, I asked myself two very important questions: What do I want to achieve in life and what legacy do I want to leave behind? These are indeed life-changing questions.
My idol of success in business is Howard Schultz, former chairman and owner of Starbucks. He came from a very humble background as an employee. Though he didn’t have a lot of skills at the beginning, he started a company he wanted. He believed in himself and inspired others to believe in his idea and work for his company.
In my own time, I mentor others regarding business by consulting with them through telephone or in person. While some of them are younger than me, I also mentor some who are older than me. They come to me for consultation and counseling because I speak to them very frankly, and they trust me.
Kiwi Go recently opened its newest office in Singapore, expanding its reach to the region. Aung Paing Thant credits the success of his company in a short period of time to their “perseverance, team work and ability to communicate strategically.” But, in the end, Aung Paing Thant links his philosophy of success to the idea of Go Do Good, and says: “Our real success, I believe, is measured by the contributions we make to the betterment of our community.”