• Faye Bradley

10 Minutes With…Jaelle Ang, Founder of The Great Room

An interview with Jaelle Ang, Founder of The Great Room, a premium co-working space

Name: Jaelle Ang | Occupation: Founder & CEO at The Great Room | Location: Hong Kong | Known for: The Great Room


Hong Kong is home to an abundance of creative talent, spanning across different career paths from artists to chefs. Each week we interview creatives and entrepreneurs from across the city to learn more about their passions and aspirations. This week, we got up and personal with Jaelle Ang, the founder and CEO of The Great Room.

Image courtesy of The Great Room

A Little Background…


Quarry Bay’s The Great Room aims to foster workplace wellness by addressing mental, physical and nutritional needs, while encouraging intellectual stimulation and creativity.

Image courtesy of The Great Room

Founded by Jaelle Ang, a businesswoman who was previously the Head of Real Estate Development SET-listed Country Group Development Public Company Limited in Thailand, the co-working space is one of the latest stunning ventures in the city, welcoming budding entrepreneurs and business clients to reside in a stunning, comfortable environment. Ang has been covered in print and broadcast outlets including The Straits Times, CNBC, Chanel New Asia, Money FM and The Edge. She was also listed on the Forbes Asia’s Power Businesswomen list for defying stereotypes and breaking down barriers in the industry.

Image courtesy of The Great Room

The Questions


1) Can you tell us about your background before you started The Great Room?


I am trained as an architect in London and spent many summers in China because my parents were working and living there. It honed my aesthetic tastes by watching two very different cultures and design scenes. I also have a few years of banking under my belt after business school. The Great Room is a culmination of the multi-facets that I enjoy, in particular, the creation of the future of workplace which I see as one that has it all—great design, tech-enabled, warm hospitality and a like-minded high- powered community.


When I was 12, I wrote this as what I would want on my tombstone when that day comes: “She always played her heart out on the field, taking long shots and braving bruises. She was never on the sidelines.”—I live by that philosophy.

Image courtesy of The Great Room

2) What inspired you to open The Great Room?


Trained as an architect with a few years of banking under my belt, I moved to Bangkok in 2009.  Lured by a sweeping riverside plot of five hectares with a fish market and hundreds of squatters, I went about orchestrating the development of what would be one of Bangkok’s largest mixed-use developments—Chao Phraya Estate.  The development now consists of the Four Seasons Hotel, Four Seasons Private Residences and the all-suites Capella Hotel.


Watching how hotel brands and design can transform spaces, really lay the foundation and inspiration for creating ‘The Great Room’ for me. We know that the high-value part of what we call work no longer happens behind the computer. Work is being with other like-minded or diverse people, having ‘casual collisions’ and pushing boundaries. Everyday! At The Great Room, we are interested in creating the layers of spaces that let people thrive—sometimes that is allowing contemplation, other times, it is to allow collaboration. Even spaces for risks, for humour, or for delight.

Image courtesy of The Great Room

When I was 12, I wrote this as what I would want on my tombstone when that day comes: “She always played her heart out on the field, taking long shots and braving bruises. She was never on the sidelines.”—I live by that philosophy. —Jaelle Ang, Founder & CEO of The Great Room

3) How have you seen the demand in co-working spaces change over the past decade?


Flexible working real estate in Asia is now at 2-3% of total commercial real estate.  It is estimated to be at 30% by 2030, in other words, it will grow 10 times in the next 10 years.  It is a great opportunity to see and participate in that growth—it is probably the largest disruption that commercial real estate has seen for a long time. At the same time, workspaces are too often sterile and uninspiring.

Image courtesy of The Great Room

We knew that if we want to fulfil the growing demand for flexible workspaces, we would want to do it in a very different way. The Great Room is a relentless, naive but important pursuit to make the work environment as human as possible. More than ever, people are demanding more and more from their life; whether it is work or play, and the blurring of boundaries. This is a great opportunity for an operator like ‘The Great Room’ to lead the notion of “it’s all work, it’s all play.” People want to work in their hotel environments today.  They want to have their three-hour meetings there, they want a great coffee, they want to be inspired at their off-sites or workshops, and they want to socialize in these spaces. So, that’s what we’ve tried to create!

We know that the high-value part of what we call work no longer happens behind the computer. Work is being with other like-minded or diverse people, having ‘casual collisions’ and pushing boundaries. ——Jaelle Ang, Founder & CEO of The Great Room

4) Can you tell us more about The Great Room and what to expect as a client?


The Great Room blends inspiration from the best offices, luxury hotels and business clubs, and really aims to change the way you feel about coming to work. We believe in the power of the interior to amplify and express our brand, our intentions and to drive the right conversations around the table.  At The Great Room, design is beyond aesthetics. It is a thought process, a skill, a lens for a life better lived. Hospitality is not just about looking like a hotel; it’s a way of taking care of people.  It’s making every touchpoint as human-centred as possible.

Image courtesy of The Great Room

On Mondays, we start the week with our signature Monday Breakfast Club where members really look forward to coming in early for the artisanal coffee and breakfast we provide.  Then we have the much-beloved turndown cart that cheers everyone up at 5pm with cookies and milk—and to end the day on a sweet note.  We have hosted bespoke scent workshops, whisky tasting and intimate fireside chats from field-tested experts in finance, technology, hospitality and leadership. We are also always worked with like-minded brand partners like Tumi and Moet- Hennessy to create insider & unique experiences for our community. After all, our members deeply embrace the #ItsAllWorkItsAllPlay culture.


5) What kind of clients do you attract at The Great Room?


We believe that ‘great design attracts a like-minded community’. Crafted as a unique and tailored workspace model that provides choice and diverse zones for different workstyles and activities. The Great Room aims to attract a diverse mix of enterprises, as well as ‘grown up’ startups, with the design being multi-functional, reconfigurable and adaptable to change whether it’s an individual hot-desker, a start-up team of 10 or large enterprises of a 100+.

Image courtesy of The Great Room

In terms of industry, we have member companies from technology, finance, lifestyle and creative at The Great Room who are united by their desire to ‘have it all’ – the infrastructure for peak performance and productivity plus the energy and culture of innovative start-ups. They are curious and ambitious and would find themselves as easily attracted to sessions of CEO media coaching, as they are to rubbing shoulders with other power brokers or a whiskey-tasting session. High growth companies in technology “unicorns” and the innovation teams of established MNCs primarily drive growth at The Great Room.  While start-ups do contribute to 25% of our members, we continue to be deeply focused on an offering that high growth companies need—that tends to be the cream of the 5% of startups which become successful. 


The segment that we focus on—Fortune 500 companies, enterprises, SMEs and private equity houses have an average tenure of 1.5 to 2 times longer than a typical start-up.  They are a stickier source of income due to stability and enlarged and diverse pool of capital.  They are more value-sensitive than price-sensitive providing significantly larger margins as well. It is a segment that is the largest, growing the fastest and has the lowest penetration in Asia currently. We want to race to build on our dominance in this attractive segment.

Image courtesy of The Great Room

6) How do you address mental, physical and nutritional wellbeing at your office?


People spend most of their waking hours at work. The Great Room puts in more thought, design and wellness elements into the workspace to directly impact employees’ productivity, wellbeing and ultimately the company’s performance when they get more from their talent.


At The Great Room, we are committed to improving workplace wellness for our staff, for the community and our members. Our team has been busy programming and running a number of wellness-focused events for the community—focused on mind, body and nutrition! Whether it’s a deep breathing session to activate endorphins or a fit and focused meal plan, wellness is the key to unlocking balance and wellbeing while you’re busy running the show. 

7) What is something you have been doing during quarantine that you’re proud to share?


Watching how world leaders lead and manage this crisis, scares and inspires me at the same time. We are watching a play-by-play of leaders making life-and-death decisions under conditions of deep uncertainty and the weight of generations of consequences.


Now I truly believe leaders are forged in the most trying of crisis. My big wake-up call is that if I’m a leader, I damn well do my job and lead. If I’m not good yet, get good—and get good fast! Leading from home has been a challenge and a growth opportunity for me as a business leader. A few learnings for me: I share my vulnerabilities. People do not need a leader that is always right, they need a leader who is real. As a leader, it is ok for me to say ‘I don’t know but here is my read of the situation’, to simplify the conflicting data and chaos, and then distil into a roadmap.


I make decisions amidst ambiguity. We cannot be paralysed by fear and will need to make decisions even if it means there are risks. The best defense, is to make cheaper and irreversible mistakes and learn faster than everyone else. I communicate much more than I used to, to take out the guesswork which dissipates energy. And I communicate with empathy! Sometimes that means I check in with a call that has nothing to do with work or host a pizza party for over 50 staff on zoom across 3 cities.

8) How have you adapted to the social distancing concept, whilst being a co- working space?


When there is uncertainty in the market—whether due to the political, health & safety or business environment—we believe that businesses will allocate more of their real estate solutions to flexible rather than traditional offices.  Agility is the only way to combat uncertainty and changes in the current business environment. 


We are bullish on the longer-term prospects of co-working in Hong Kong, but that is not to say the current climate makes it easy for businesses. We are very focused on building a great offering and community at One Taikoo Place which is our current flagship in Hong Kong.


Since June, we have seen 2 out of 3 enquiries from companies occupying traditional real estate who have never used flexible office spaces before. We have also seen some corporates who have shifted the conversation from a finance and commercial real estate standpoint, to a ‘HR and People’ experience lens. Corporates are anxious and cautious – while the exit from offices has been swift, the return requires much more decision pillars and procedures for each phase of a staged return. 


More than ever, corporates are also open to different membership plans and business continuity scenarios—individual memberships for a decentralised workforce, split shifts resulting in a separate and/or smaller footprint and flexing into external workspace as a means to reduce density at their current workspace.


9) What can we look forward to at The Great Room? Any exciting events?


We’re actually in the midst of hosting an exclusive four-part digital series in partnership with Urban Land Institute Singapore around the Future of the Workplace. One thing rings true—the workplace landscape has changed. Tomorrow’s view might look different, but abundant in opportunities for those who are ready for it. This four-part digital series deep dives into the uncertainties, challenges and opportunities of this new era. From macro trends driving innovation in the work environment, redesigning spaces for peak productivity, The Great Return, to workplace wellness to drive performance. Featured speakers include:

  1. Philip Dunn – Director, Workplace, APAC, Netflix

  2. Anthony Couse – CEO, Asia Pacific, JLL

  3. Tang Wei Leng – Managing Director, Colliers International

  4. Joyce Wang – Principal, Joyce Wang Studio

  5. Jaelle Ang – CEO & Co-founder, The Great Room

  6. Katerina Giannouka – President, Asia Pacific, Radisson Hotel Group

This year we’ve launched our Great Minds Never Think Alike Campaign, focused on how the world of work is changing—now more than ever before. Through this campaign, we bring together some of the greatest minds across different industries and by doing so, demonstrate how multifaceted work can be, offering others a rare glimpse into the daily lives of some of the greatest thought leaders today. The campaign has launched in Singapore with a story series—stay tuned for the Hong Kong and Bangkok portion of this campaign!


And finally, we are continuously committed to improving workplace wellness in the workplace for our staff, for the community and our members. Throughout the year, our team has been busy programming wellness focused events from breathwork & mental resilience workshops, mid-week juice bars, and a good old digital stretch and yoga class! Stay tuned for more events and partnerships like these.


The Great Room, 23/F One Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Taikoo Place, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, +852 5804 6001, thegreatroom.co


Get in touch with The Great Room to find out how to sign up as a member