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Bangkok Faces: Rob Kawada, Managing Director, English Gang Thailand

Your Name: Rob Kawada
Job Title: Managing Director, English Gang Thailand

What is your nationality and background?

I am originally from the USA, but have been working in Bangkok since 2004 primarily in the fields of marketing and education.

What is your profession?

I am the Managing Director and Founder of English Gang Thailand, which is aimed at improving the communication skills across Thailand over the next 10+ years. We teach English online via live one-on-one classes with qualified native English speakers.

What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?

We’ve built our own curriculum of over 400 English classes, and have grown our teacher base to over 50 qualified native English speakers. Overseeing that took quite some time!

I also managed the building of our website, implemented both online and offline marketing plans, and formed strong promotional partnerships with groups such as Kidzania, Central Group, Tops Supermarkets, etc..

How did you get involved in your profession?

It came out of frustration to be honest! I’ve worked with the Ministry of Education reforming all different types of Thai schools, and I have also worked at the international school level. One day I was getting on an international flight at Suvarnabhumi Airport and overheard a tourist struggling to talk to an airline worker in English. I went over, translated for a minute, got back in line, then complained to my travel partner about how the English levels in Thailand needed improvement. I realized that I was being “that guy” who complains and doesn’t do anything to fix a problem, so I began jotting down ideas about how to improve English in Thailand on a nationwide level. Fast forward to today, and here we are starting to make a difference!

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

I’m lucky to be the Managing Director of a fantastic, dedicated team. My role is to make sure that we are constantly being driven in the right direction for the right reasons. My big decisions are pretty easy. I simply ask, “What will most benefit the students?” and that answer is the driving force behind every move, partnership and hire that we make. I have two young children of my own, so understanding education and understanding parents both come naturally to me.

What challenges do you face in this role?

Facing scrutiny is both a challenge and a blessing at the same time. It helps to keep me on my toes as I’m always ready to publicly justify each decision I make, and to accept responsibility for any mistakes that I make. Improving English in Thailand is no easy task, but I believe that by harnessing the power of the relatively fast Internet that we have here coupled with our high quality program, we really do have the ability to improve the English skills here on a nationwide level.

What do you hope to achieve within your industry?

There are many small but well-intentioned efforts to improve education in Thailand. My goal is to create an open, creative and competitive atmosphere where we can all either join forces or push one another to keep raising the bar here in Thailand. This country is amazing in so many ways. Efforts for improvement abound, and I hope to orchestrate these efforts in a way that shows tangible results in the years to come.

Who or what inspires you?

Day in and day out, my English Gang team inspires me to keep pushing to make a difference. The teachers are amazing, and the team that I work with day in and day out keep the fire going when one of us inevitably gets low on battery so to speak. And I know it’s cliche, but my kids inspire me everyday with their love of life and passion for everything, big and small.

Only a Bangkok local would know… The best food in Thailand is found right around the corner in that small restaurant run by mom and dad. When it comes to Thai food, there’s no need to go through a ton of Trip Advisor reviews while trying to find something fancy. Check out your local shops, do your best to befriend the owners and enjoy the real Thai experience for a fraction of the price.

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For more information on English Gang Thailand, please visit their website.

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