Source: InterviewerAlexandra Reich, Former CEO of dtac
Moderator: Waleeporn Sayasit, General Manager-Corporate Communications, TCC Technology
[Waleeporn]: K. Alexandra, did I wake you up too early?
[Alexandra]: No, it’s actually 6:30 in the morning here in Europe. But I’m already awake, so no problem at all.
[Waleeporn]: So, uh, this morning we make k. Alex wake up at 6:30. This is the time in Austria and in Thailand right now it’s about 11:30. And this is the cross-country interview. I’m very excited and it is very nice having you here with us at open talk. Khun Alex, I really like your character, as you have the likability. And I can feel your energy even it is so early you are still like fresh like this. How do you wake up with such a strong energy while performing the heavy duty, as a CEO?
[Alexandra]: So. If you really love what you doing that, then energy comes totally naturally, and especially when I worked in dtac in Thailand, you know, working for this company was giving me a lot of energy, but especially the people I worked with, so getting up in the morning knowing that I’m going to work with a bunch of great people and feeling the love and the energy of my colleagues was just boosting energy in me. So it was great to do that job.
[Waleeporn]: OK, so we should do what we love. And also, uh, the people who we work with, if they have love and energy we also absorb that, right?
[Alexandra]: Absolutely; that’s what is super important in life.
[Waleeporn]: OK, um that’s interesting. And the way you develop in your career, from the financial background to a CEO in tech companies, with the multinational experience, is quite impressive. How do you do that?
[Alexandra]: So I think you can’t really plan your career totally, so you have to have a very open mind and you have to be learning, and trying to understand, that you have to be very curious. That’s what makes your career develop.
And when I started investment banking after awhile I felt it’s just not the right thing for me. Although you know it was the right time to be in the banking industry, on the financial industry, but I just didn’t feel it was right for me personally. And that’s when I started to be curious and I went into tech and I was maybe a pioneer back then. In 19, in the beginning of the 1990s. So that’s when all the Internet started, and you could feel there was a lot going on, and I wanted to be part of this. And that’s how my career developed. I was curious, I was very open, and I was constantly learning.
[Waleeporn]: OK, so the keyword is curious right, and open minded.
[Alexandra]: Yes as well, but I think I could have stayed in the financial industry, and maybe I would have made a career there. But I knew it was just not the right thing for me. I didn’t enjoy fully what I was doing, and that changed when I came in to tech. So I think it’s also being curious and looking out to find what you really like to do.
[Waleeporn]: Uh-huh OK and k. Alex as you have the expertise in the Telecom Field. How do you see the change in business and impact to people’s life?
[Alexandra]: So I think we are, we always have been, in a kind of a time of change, but this time it’s a little bit more about uncertainty. You can feel that things are changing rapidly, and you have to be very agile, in the sense that you have to be open, to what is happening. You have to be kind of again curious to look out, you have to be learning. And you don’t have to worry about things, you just have to walk in. And as a leader it’s super important to take people along, to talk to them. To share what you see coming, but also to learn every day. And I think transformation is ongoing, but it’s a good form of transformation, and you just have to look into it very positively and embrace it. Then you will also succeed and the company will succeed, you’re working with.
[Waleeporn]: OK, so again, uh, we should be open minded and curious. And also we have to learn, right, and take people along the way, OK?
[Alexandra]: Yes. And embrace what is new. If you don’t, can’t even embrace what is coming, then you might prevent it and it’s totally wrong. So just take all the opportunities, take the new things which are developing and be positive and use them.
[Waleeporn]: OK, so we have to embrace it also, right? And be positive, OK. And k. Alex, how do you feel when you are working with Thai people?
[Alexandra]: So for me, working with Thai people was really a fantastic experience. So what I really loved about Thai people is they really understand, and they look behind, so they just don’t take for granted what you tell them. But they want to see how you feel about it. They want to believe you. They want to trust you, but if they do trust you, they really follow you and they come along. And if you give them the room to experiment, if you give them room to develop themselves then they come forwards and then they really kind of take the helm and they really develop things.
So it was for me a good experience, I enjoyed it a lot. I understood that especially for Thai people, uh, sharing what you think, being very honest, being very transparent, is super important and giving them very room to develop they will take the opportunity and they will show you their full power.
[Waleeporn]: OK, that’s really positive. Thank you so much and k. Alex, any suggestion?
[Alexandra]: Maybe just, I really miss working with Thai people, so I miss my colleagues in Thailand, and I miss all the stakeholders I worked with, so I really do.
[Waleeporn]: Yes OK, yeah, that’s very touching. Um, k. Alex, uh, do you have any suggestions for foreigners when they work with Thai people?
[Alexandra]: I think for foreigners it’s very important, on the one hand, respect is super important in Thailand. I mean it should be important everywhere, but especially in Thailand respect is very important, and I think it’s a fantastic I mean way to work with people to have the respect to see how they feel, how they think and to listen to them. And I think if foreigners sometimes are maybe a little bit too blunt and direct. To learn that respect, to you know, to listen carefully, to also be a lot, kind of, you know in one on ones, where people have the chance to really openly talk to you. That is important, then you will succeed in Thailand because Thai people just want to see your respect, and they want to be kind of, you know, listened to, which I think should be done everywhere in the world. But maybe some Europeans are a little bit more resilient.
[Waleeporn]: OK, I see. Um actually I agree with you. That respect is very important in our society, and actually everywhere in the world. If you respect then we can live in the better world, right?
[Alexandra]: We could actually learn a lot from Thailand, in that sense.
[Waleeporn]: OK, k. Alex, um, and this is my last question for today, is which is, when you feel down how do you make yourself stronger.
[Alexandra]: So, as I mentioned before, it’s a lot about believing what you are doing and, uh, enjoying what you’re doing. And there are always times when you are a little bit kind of down, or things happen, which you don’t really expect it, but to believe in the positive, to believe that things will turn around. That’s actually also boosts me back into my energy, and then also sharing things, sharing if you have bad experiences, sharing with other people. So even if I had bad times in dtac, I was not keeping it to myself, but I shared it with my colleagues, and then things become much easier, because if you share your problems, and if you discuss them, suddenly, they kind of, you know, fade away, and you find a solution. So on the one hand, it’s all about believing in yourself, and believing in the positive of life, but also sharing what are you problems. And talking to people, being transparent and open, then things will become, I would say, easy to solve.
[Waleeporn]: k. Alex. Actually today we learned a lot from you, and also I can absorb some energy from you. And, uh, actually we will have the talk again, right, next time. We will talk about the areas that actually are your core strength, which are leadership, mindset, and collaboration.
[Alexandra]: OK, thank you so much.
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