Fulfilling the role of Deputy Managing Director at Mitsu Cambodia Co Ltd requires a combination of dedication, hard work, adaptability, and resilience. These are all traits that enterprising executive, Tashinee “Ince” Somboonterdtana, evidently embodies, as her family-owned company experienced an impressive revenue growth of 50 percent since last year.
More and more, we have seen an emerging cohort of passionate young leaders rising to face today’s challenges, proving themselves to be major forces behind thriving enterprises. Among them, in Thailand, is 24-year-old Tashinee “Ince” Somboonterdtana, the Deputy Managing Director of the family-owned Mitsu Cambodia, the country’s sole authorised distributor of Mitsubishi motors.
With a long history that traces back to the early 1900s, Mitsubishi has remained, to this day, a reliable top-ranked Japanese brand in the automotive industry. In 2007, Ince’s father, Sombat Somboonterdtana, the current Managing Director, was entrusted by the mother company in Japan, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, to establish Mitsu Cambodia. Prior to that, the Somboonterdtana family was also a distributor of Kubota agricultural machinery, a business they continue to operate to this day.
Realising a Dream
Born and raised in Thailand, Ince completed her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management at the University of Exeter in the UK, and then went on to study for her Master’s in Entrepreneurship at Cass Business School, where she attained First Class Honours. Following her graduation, she immediately joined the family business.
“My childhood goal has always been to become a successful businesswoman,” Ince says, “and I have known from a young age that I wanted to join the family business. Our father constantly exposed us to the world of business as we were growing up, and he instilled in us a sense of duty to the family business throughout our formative years.”
Of course, it takes more than a good education to make it in this world, and Ince is the first to admit that given her lack of experience, her entrance into the company, approximately two years ago, entailed a significant entrepreneurial learning curve.
“It wasn’t easy, but you have to be able to step out of your comfort zone in order to grow and broaden your knowledge,” she says. “It’s important for me to continually push myself and to familiarise myself with various aspects of the business. I don’t think anyone can claim to know everything, and acknowledging my own shortcomings was fundamental to my self-improvement and growth as a person and as a businesswoman. Also, you should not be afraid to ask as many questions as possible.”
Business Across Borders
In her capacity as Deputy Managing Director – a title she shares with her older brother, Warot – Ince’s key responsibilities include overseeing the sales, marketing, and commercial strategies. This young executive speaks of her nascent career with modesty, and although it’s fair to say that she’s still a newbie, Ince has already made her mark, having proved herself to be a very valuable addition to the team.
Running a business across the borders comes with its own set of challenges, but none quite as arduous and complex as those brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Resilience and adaptability are strengths companies must have to ensure business continuity in an increasingly volatile situation. Therefore, putting her degrees to good use, Ince not only helped ameliorate the company’s workflow and employee engagement, but further devised innovative solutions, which ultimately pivoted the company’s business framework into a digitally-run operation.
“As a result of this pivot, we were able to do a virtual launch of a new car model, which was a first in Cambodia,” Incepoints out.
“Our company has enjoyed a revenue growth of 50 percent since last year,” she goes on to say. “There’s still so much for me to learn and accomplish, but I’m very happy and proud to have contributed to this achievement.”
Aside from Mistu Cambodia, Ince oversees the digital marketing for businesses associated with the family’s distributorship of Kubota agricultural machinery, which is currently focusing on penetrating the market in Myanmar.
Based in Surin with the rest of her family, Ince commutes to Cambodia 2-3 times a month. Otherwise, she tends to her job in other family businesses with a fixed set of working hours.
“I don’t really have a daily routine,” she admits. “I set priorities each day with clear goals and work to achieve them. I think that is one of the aspects of work that I enjoy the most. Each day presents itself with new challenges, and I really enjoy problem- solving and finding solutions. In fact, even when I’m not working, I like to sit quietly alone to go over everything I have been working on and to reflect and analyse.”
With a good head on her shoulders, this future custodian of Mitsu Cambodia is very aware of how privileged she is. With respect to what her elders have created, she is not one to take things for granted. And with many years in the industry still ahead of her, Ince – who is a firm believer in continuous learning and purposeful leadership – is dedicated to doing her part to bring the family business to new heights.
“In the future, I hope to effectively utilise our experience in conducting business in neighbouring countries to explore new avenues for business ventures,” the young executive remarks. “Of course, we target to maintain the company’s position as a leader in the Cambodian automotive market. Ultimately, I want to help create something that will last long after we are no longer here on this earth.”
Finding Inspiration at Home
Ince’s role model is her father, whose work ethic and other attributes she seems to have fully inherited. “My father has always led by example and I look up to him for many reasons,” she says. “But one of the most important things I have learned from him is the true meaning of success. I’ve realised that success isn’t only about career or revenue. The ingredients that make up a good life, really just boil down to one thing: achieving balance between success at work, and maintaining a happy family and a happy home. Through all his hard work and perseverance to drive the company forward, my father has never neglected his family, which I admire.
“It’s great to be able to work with your loved ones, but we butt heads every now and then,” she says with a laugh. “However, at the end of the day, working with your family offers a safe space to speak your mind freely, and to share ideas and concerns frankly.”
Ince is very much her own person with several interests outside of the family business, including fashion and beauty. In fact, if the family’s businesses were not already existing, this avid beauty blog follower admits she could easily see herself running her own beauty company.
Always fashionably dressed, Ince describes her style as “modern classic” and reveals she is a stickler for neutral earthy tones. “And no patterns,” she adds with a grin.
While her preferred clothing brand is Chanel, her favourite jewellery maker is Cartier, and Ince shares that she never leaves her house without a complete set of jewellery to complete her look. In fact, if there’s one piece she never goes without, it’s Cartier’s iconic Love bracelet.
“I love the brand for its high quality and skilful craftsmanship,” she says, which only reaffirms her sharp eye and impeccable taste.
Words: Prijayanat Kalampasut
Photographer: Virunan Chiddaycha
Photographer’s Assistants: Surapun Thussanasriworakarn & Wattanachok Chumkua
Stylist: Naphat Thanabulanun
Stylist’s Assistant: Patcharee Suwannasang
Makeup Artist: Nontalee Wongpeng
Hair Stylist: Kitphisuth Kanchanakawingphong
Coordinator Kanyaphat Somwong
Location: The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon