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 Suthida “Yee” Mongkolsuthi, CEO of Synnex (Thailand) PCL.
In IT circles, there’s no one who doesn’t know the name Synnex, the largest importer and distributor of IT and technology products in Thailand. Currently, the company looks after 60 leading brands, including Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Microsoft. And the new gen leading lady behind its success today is Suthida “Yee” Mongkolsuthi, the eldest daughter of Suphan Mongkolsuthi, the Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries.
“I took over as CEO at the beginning of my 30s, after my father stepped down,” Yee explains. “Prior to that, however, I had already been helping. For a while I was CFO, and this was my last position before becoming CEO. During that time, the company’s sales were at 19 billion. It was a very big responsibility for me.”
Before her ascension within the family business, Yee graduated from the International Business Administration course at the Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy at Chulalongkorn University, and later received a Master of Science in International Management from Queen Mary University of London, in England. She then worked in a securities company for two years, and also travelled to study Chinese, and spent some time in Germany before returning to Thailand.
“At the end of every term, while studying at university, my father would let me come in for an internship in financial accounting and budget analysis. So, I became familiar with the company early on. We also had TKS Technology PCL before, which was started during the time of my grandfather, and my father had brought me into help with the work there since I was a child. When my father decided to give me a full-time position, he said that he believed that I could do it. After all, he said, I’d already been with the business my whole life so why wouldn’t I be ready?”
“In terms of staff, I focused not only on teamwork but also on trust. In order for an organisation to move forward, workers have to trust each other”
The challenges that arose along the way were important opportunities for Yee to learn and grow. “That time period was a real turning point in technology. The arrival of tablets made the market of notebook computers uncertain. Even though both product categories were imported and distributed by Synnex, I already saw the future of technology as being diverse. Therefore, balancing the portfolio of the business became hugely important, and as such I adjusted the product mix and expanded our product lines. In the beginning, the focus had been mainly on computers, printers and software, but then it expanded into smartphones, smart office software, gaming, health gadgets, and many other solutions to cover the IT ecosystem as much as possible.
“The challenge in the early days of my work here was that I had to get people to accept me. The good thing is that my father gave the decision-making power to me alone. The work was therefore more flexible.
“The heart of our focus is after-sales service,” she continues. “We created our logo to distinctly say ‘Trusted by Synnex’ so that consumers can be confident that if there is a problem with the product, they can turn to our reliable service centre. In terms of staff, I focused not only on teamwork but also on trust. In order for an organisation to move forward, workers have to trust each other. It also must be reinforced that employees feel they have ownership in the work that they do so that they enjoy working and moving forward together with us.”
Under the management of this formidable female CEO, the company’s earnings jumped to 320 billion in the last year, and before this had made a record high of more than 38 billion. “We’re proud to see the organisation has grown in the way we intended. Currently, I am not just expanding Synnex, but I’m also joining hands with partners to buy other businesses as well, such as NCAP (Next Capital), a leasing company that we helped enter the stock market last year. On top of that, we’ve also joined hands with SCB 10X to develop SwopMart, the first comprehensive second-hand IT product trading platform in Thailand – which also has a subsidiary named Service Point, that offers IT services.
“In the future, there will be other services and solutions that will be added in order to shift and expand our portfolio. This growth will not just be for the parent company of Synnex but will also be about expanding into other subsidiary businesses in the ecosystem so that we can all grow together.”
Working in a field that allows her to learn from and be with technology that is advancing every day is a great driving force that keeps Yee energised. “To be able to see new things all the time, to meet new people and see technology and all the changes taking place in various fields, is something we can always use to inspire ourselves. And it also makes work less dull. But at the same time, there are going to be challenges and headaches as well, as things aren’t always perfect and beautiful. But I see both aspects as positive, as they help add balance to our work. It allows us to learn how we can cross over, to find the fun in life, be alert, and to always have passion.”
Clothes: Suthida’s Own
Photographer: Jittarat Jintasirikul
Stylist: Pisit Jirathadaphan
Makeup Artist: Nonthalee Wongpeng
Hair Stylist: Worawut Taraphan
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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