Today’s young corporate leaders, whether they find themselves taking over a long-established family business or starting a brand-new venture of their own, have to be flexible, adaptable, and willing to take risks in order to succeed in this ever-changing world. Prestige’s Next Gen series explore the worlds of seven young Thai executives who embody this dynamic spirit; facing the future with drive and determination. Meet Patrawin “Boat” Chongvisal, CEO of Marsun PCL.
For over four decades, Marsun PCL has manufactured attack craft, auxiliary ships, and other seafaring vessels for navies and other government units – both locally and abroad. The company is an industry leader, and also produces commercial vessels for marine wind farms and oil and natural gas drilling, as well as ferries and yachts. For the past 18 years, Boat has been helming the business, and is the second generation in his family to do so. His bold vision for Marsun is to “plant our flag and expand throughout the global market”.
“Right now, my challenge is to demonstrate that our work is amongst the best, and to expand our reach in the market,” Patrawin says. “How do we stake a claim for ourselves in other countries, other regions, and in the world market, so they know us as a Thailand-based shipyard equipped with Thai talent? This challenge is what will motivate us to continue to grow over the next few decades and, even better, into the next century.”
Ensuring the business is sustainable, going forward, is also a challenge the young CEO faces. “This company drives many people,” he explains. “For a lot of them, it’s their home and it’s what sustains many lives. So, my challenge is to ensure we can sustainably build on our knowledge, competitive edge, and business stability. Sometimes, I have to think outside the box and consider doing business beyond shipbuilding – into services, for instance. We do repairs, as well as navigation, although we are primarily a shipbuilder. I also need to grow beyond Thailand and enter other markets, and that’s what Marsun has been doing the past seven or so years.”
Sustainability, governance, and the environment are three of the key factors that will guide the company on its path to truly sustainable business development. “Hybrid vessels nowadays are a normal thing in the market,” Patrawin remarks, adding that capitalising on things like this is necessary. “As a business that has shipbuilding as its mainstay, this is now a supplemental and complementary addition, balancing out our business portfolio. In reality, [diversification] is quite common. If you were to stay in only one area of business and a crisis hits, and you aren’t able to spread your risk across your other sectors, you could sustain heavy losses. But our company is diverse with a wide variety of customers. Only a portion of the company would be affected. Meanwhile, other areas of the business could continue to grow and support the company.”
“Allowing yourself to easily transform, to be less attached to traditions and operational frames… that’s the nature of the new generation”
Marsun’s over 40-year history makes it part-new, part-old generation. “Our company has many generations working in it, and pushing for its success. To me, the ‘new gen’ way of thinking means leaving the old mindset behind. Allowing yourself to easily transform, to be less attached to traditions and operational frames… that’s the nature of the new generation.
“I like how the new generation works,” he continues. “They’re not afraid to try something new and get it wrong. My job is to give them the opportunity to act by building a sandbox that allows them to experiment. And if anything goes wrong, then it’s limited to just the sandbox. It’s a chance to remove limitations to their thinking. Management-wise, if we never made any changes, we probably wouldn’t be competitive. Personally, I try to never stop changing and to always support new ways of thinking.”
While many business leaders strive to be “tigers” in their fields, devouring all who stand in their way, this enterprising executive admits to having a different spirit animal as his inspiration.
“I’m like a galloping horse that wants to go ever faster,” he muses. “I want to get quicker every day. I’m a high-powered racer with many different finish lines. I don’t think of myself as a tiger or anything else, because if I say I’m ‘top dog’ I automatically limit my way of thinking.
“If yesterday I made an error, today I’ll do better because I’ll have learnt and had that experience,” he goes on to say. “It isn’t about blaming myself. It’s about reviewing what’s happened. If I observe ‘this went well, this didn’t go well, so I won’t do this anymore’, then I always get some new ideas out of the experience.”
Of course, all businesses will find themselves encountering tough times at one point or other, and Marsun is no exception. However, its management saw their problems as fixable and set about solving them in a transparent manner. “If you lay a problem and all its various aspects out on the table and just fix one thing at a time, then one-by-one you’ll find the way out. Don’t get stuck looking at the [entire] problem,” he advises.
Throughout the decades Marsun has continued to represent a new generation of industry stars making a valued name for Thailand. The company has earned international renown, utilising Thai talent and skill, which makes it a source of national pride indeed. As for the future, Patrawin hints that there are many exciting new business models in the works.
Clothes: Patrawin’s Own
Photographer: Jittarat Jintasirikul
Stylist: Pisit Jirathadaphan
Makeup Artist: Chotirot Roddon
Hair Stylist: Chavakit Suphanpong
Editorial Coordinator: Kanyaphat Somwong
Location: Kimpton Maa-lai Bangkok
This story was first published in the December 2021 issue of Prestige Thailand.
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