Supportive but decisive; determined but flexible to adapt to changes; tough but kind. A great leader must be true to herself and to her team.
The final session of the Women in Business Southeast Asia series brought 3 outstanding Thai businesswomen to discuss leadership and what are the key qualities of a great leader in 21st century Thailand.
Nualphan Lamsam “Madame Pang”, President and Chief Executive Officer of Muang Thai Insurance PCL & manager of the Thai Women’s national soccer team; Roongchat (Jang) Boonyarat, Director & Chief Operating Officer of Malee Sampran Public Company Limited (MALEE); and Shannon Kalaynamitr, Founder & Chief Marketing Officer of Orami shared their own personal experiences of leadership, their advice on what makes a great leader, and their take on finding a work-life balance. This is what we heard, in their own words.
“Being a strong woman doesn’t mean that you need to put a mean face on and start yelling at people. But being a strong woman means that you need to be surrounded by other strong women”
WHAT MAKES A GREAT LEADER?
“A leader is someone that acknowledges your strengths and weaknesses and is able to maneuver resources to get to the goal. Someone that is not only strategic and executes but also leads by example. Quite frankly, it’s difficult. As a leader I need to acknowledge that and seek out resources to see what I am doing right and what needs more work.” Shannon Kalaynamitr, Orami
“In the past a leader meant to lead but in the present generation a leader is meant to support, to provide the tools to bring out the fullest potential in your staff. So instead of being a one-person show, knowing it all, you are using the skillsets of all your team members. As a leader, you need to motivate, empower and inspire your staff.” Roongchat (Jang) Boonyarat, MALEE
“There is a saying ‘Don’t quit’ but I never believed in that saying. A great leader needs to know, particularly in today’s world when things are changing so fast, that if you have made the wrong decision in the past it’s ok to change your decision now and to accept the consequences and criticism from everyone. But one thing that you definitely need to be is decisive, making tough decisions. That’s how the company makes progress.” Roongchat (Jang) Boonyarat, MALEE
“To be a great leader the most critical thing is to be yourself, have strong ethics and morals but adapt as things change all the time, often unexpectedly. You need to work together as a team and build a strong and positive working environment.” Nualphan Lamsam, Muang Thai Insurance PCL
“It’s important to stay true to yourself, you don’t need to put on a front when you are at work. Being a strong woman doesn’t mean that you need to put a mean face own and start yelling at people. But being a strong woman means that you need to be surrounded by other strong women. Work is a big part of who you are and if you try to be someone else, you’ll leave that place becoming someone else at home too.” Roongchat (Jang) Boonyarat, MALEE
“In the past I was afraid of changing things too quickly because I wanted to compromise. As a leader you need to have a clear goal in mind, your job is to bring the company forward. Your job is to take care of the happiness of the majority of the people, not just a few or everyone. To get the company moving you need to look at the big picture so don’t be afraid to make changes even though they will affect a few”. Roongchat (Jang) Boonyarat, MALEE
“I looked at all the things that I enjoyed doings and it turns out that it wasn’t industry specific but it was skillset specific. What I found out was that I was good at business development. So I quit Lazada and founded MOXY, which is an online shopping destination for women. It takes dedication and commitment to become an entrepreneur and it’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It’s a lot of perseverance and tenacity to make something work. One of the tough decisions that I had to make for us was to say goodbye to the MOXY name. We just merged with a company in Indonesia and we are now called Orami and that’s for the better good of 500 people.” Shannon Kalaynamitr, Orami
“I started the company with other 2 senior founders. I made the mistake of thinking that because they are older, they know best. I let them take care of the financing side entirely on their own. If I had to do that again, I would be much more hands-on on that. If it doesn’t feel right, you need to trust your gut.” Shannon Kalaynamitr, Orami
JUGGLING WORK AND FAMILY
“It’s about putting things in priority. Family comes first. Work life balance doesn’t exist in my book. Work is part of life and goes everywhere with you particularly if you have your own company. Life also goes to work with you. It’s about making sure that you know what you are doing at every point in time and not having distractions within that hour. If you can do one thing at a time you can really accomplish a lot.” Roongchat (Jang) Boonyarat, MALEE
“I am still figuring it out. Some days I am on the ball and super efficient but travel throws me off schedule. It’s important to set up systems. Just as you have a good team at work, you need a good team at home. It’s a lot of time management, setting priorities, and putting systems in place. And be present in the moment. Quality of time rather than quantity.” Shannon Kalaynamitr, Orami
“To find a healthy balance in your life is the most important thing. We succeed in our work but family is another aspect to bring our personal happiness. Workout and exercise is another thing we should do for ourselves. It’s crucial to create a balance for your own life.” Nualphan Lamsam, Muang Thai Insurance PCL