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Bangkok Faces: Nitiporn Hempstead, Owner of PNA (Professional Nanny Agency) Ltd.

Name: Nitiporn Hempstead

Job Title: Owner of Nitiporn’s PNA (Professional Nanny Agency) Ltd.

What is your nationality and background?

I am Thai and from a poor rice-farming family in Roi Et. My mother still grows rice in the village where I was born and is happy to do so — she is not a city person. I visit her with my husband as often as I can and have bought some land there which we plan to develop when we retire.

What is your profession?

Initially, I spent eight years working as a nanny and maid but the following 30 years providing high-quality domestic staff to both Thai and foreigner families residing in Bangkok.

What are the key skills and responsibilities of your role?

It is a role that requires a great deal of patience and understanding as it is important that the family and the girl they hire are happy. I have a duty of care to both and I take my responsibility seriously.

How did you become involved in your profession?

I began my adult life as a nanny. At 18 years old I was chosen by the Thai Ambassador to the UK to work as a nanny and went to stay in London with my employer. I was sent to finishing school and learnt how to meet and greet, how to cook, how to set the table and much more. My employer took me to many different places as I travelled with the family wherever they went. When they returned to Thailand they suggested I start my own business — finding girls like myself to work with other families and I started Nitiporns Nanny Agency in 1988.

My first customers were friends and colleagues of the family to whom I was kindly introduced. I serviced only Thai families and placed only Thai girls for many years and I was featured in several of the glossy magazines in Thailand and was even interviewed by Japanese TV. I worked very hard — long hours, seven days a week, and the Agency became a great success. In 2009 I met my English husband and the Agency began to service the expat community, developing a website in English and placing both Myanmar and Thai girls with families. At this point, it became better known as Nitiporn’s PNA (Professional Nanny Agency) Ltd. and now my girls work with families arriving from all over the world involved in a wide variety of professions.

How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?

The girls I place with my customers are chosen very carefully and my staff and I work hard to match the individual requirements of the family with the right girl. The person they hire becomes central to their enjoyment of Bangkok and vital to the children’s development. When the placement works well, life-long friendships often develop and the employer and nanny become “almost” like family. I take my role very seriously because if my customer is happy then the nanny is too and stays with her employer for the long term… and that makes me happy.

What challenges do your face in this role?

My job entails dealing with people — every family is different and their expectations vary. The main challenge that my staff and I face is managing those expectations so as not to disappoint the customer — or the nanny. My customers typically lead busy lives and hold responsible and important positions. They expect to hire someone from me who they can trust and rely on.

What do you hope to achieve within your industry?

When my husband joined me in 2009, the nanny industry was still entirely financed by the nannies themselves — they would all pay a percentage of their salary to the Agency every month. PNA stopped charging the nannies a fee and began charging its customers instead. This took a while to become accepted but once we explained why, there was very little objection. It has transformed the nanny industry with the girls now retaining 100% of their salaries. It also resulted in more nannies wanting to work with PNA, enabling us to select the best girls for our customers.

In 2013, the Agency was instrumental in the implementation of changes to the Thai Labour Law. The law previously excluded domestic staff but partly due to PNA and our contacts inside the government, domestic staff are now “included” and have some protection if they find that their wellbeing and/or safety is being compromised.

Who or what inspires you?

I am driven by doing “the right thing”. Sometimes this conflicts with a person’s expectations of me but I will always do what is right and fair. I have always worked hard, even as a child, and strived to be successful and with a better life than the one I was born into. I knew this would only be achieved by hard work — something I have never been afraid of. My first boss and teacher Khun Pratyung has been my inspiration for many years. She taught me about life and work, placing me with the Ambassador’s family when I arrived in Bangkok as a starry-eyed 18-year-old. I still visit her when I am passing her home to show my respect. She always has time for me and the warmth we share is very special. I have tried to be the same with people who have come into my life.

Only a Bangkok local would know…

When I returned from the UK, I lived in Nonthaburi and still keep a home there although my son now uses the house. There is a restaurant called Korat — not too far away from Nonthaburi market on the Rama 5 Road between Pibulsongkram Road and Krungthep-Non. It serves the best Isaan food in Bangkok and is busy almost every night. The atmosphere is great and very family friendly. I love it!

For more information on PNA, please visit their website.

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