Source: InterviewerAlexandra Reich, Former CEO of dtac
Moderator: Waleeporn Sayasit, General Manager-Corporate Communications, TCC Technology
[Waleeporn]: OK, this is your second time with our Open Talk. We really appreciate your presence today. Are you ready?
[Alexandra]: Yes, I’m totally ready and I’m very happy to talk to you and especially the people in Thailand.
[Waleeporn]: OK, you are ready to talk to khon Thai right now. OK right now OK shall we start with how to transform business? In your opinion, what should the organization consider?
[Alexandra]: So I think what is very important if you transform the business is that you bring people together and that you also empower people. The transformation we are in today is not one that is top down driven, but it’s information where people need to be involved and they need to be empowered. So what I’m a big believer in it is before you do any kind of transformation, you really have to work on the organization.
You have to have it set up, where people can really can, you know, get the power to do things, where they get their task, where they get the room to develop themselves. And we for example in dtac transformed into an agile organization. So we had smaller teams working together, taking a different tasks, and managing it as it would be your own business. And what I’ve been seeing is, to become a lot quicker in decision-making, because the decisions are taken in the team and people feel responsible for what they’re doing. And I think the transformation we are in, you need to be a lot quicker. People need to be close to the business, and the decisions need to be close to the customer, and that’s why I think the biggest or the most important part of any kind of transformation is changing the organization and changing the way you manage people or the way you lead people.
[Waleeporn]: OK, so the when we talk about business transformation, we don’t talk about the technology first, but we should consider the people right and get them involved. And take responsibility for that, and empower them.
[Alexandra]: I think that’s very important because if you empower them and they’re much closer to the customer, they will take the right decisions, and they need to be closely. So then you become a lot quicker in whatever you do, and you also become a lot more customer centric, and focus on the customers, and that’s what you need to do. Trust in the people and let them decide.
[Waleeporn]: OK, it’s important to trust in our people. K. Alexandra, how do you engage with your customer in Thailand as compared to other countries?
[Alexandra]: So what I really found out in Thailand is customers are super engaged and especially in the telco industry. In no other country in the world, people are so well informed. So when I when I came to Thailand, people knew which spectrum data cases, and they were discussing with me, so they were super involved, which I think is a fantastic opportunity because then customers listen to you. So even when we had the worst of times in our spectrum, situation was a little bit critical. Our network situation was not really perfect. When you explain to customers in Thailand what you doing and how you are gonna improve things, they listen to you and they also trust you.
And you have to do it very personally and I, uh, as you might know, I even had my Facebook open for customers so they could actually talk to me in Messenger. They could send me messages or emails and I was really very open, personally open to listening to customers, and that became something standard within dtac. So all of us were listening to customers in a very different way. We looked into the experience of our customers and I think that’s what customers felt in Thailand, and that’s what they appreciated, and that’s why they came back to us, or stayed with us.
[Waleeporn]: OK yeah, it’s very important to listen to customers. And I can notice that in your Facebook you are very active and I believe that you responded to a lot of customers requirements, right?
[Alexandra]: But I learned a lot from customers as well. Yeah, because if you only look for example at your network indicators, you won’t see the real truth. But if you listen to your customers, what they are experiencing, you will learn what you need to change. You will learn what needs to be improved. And so I think it’s key to listen to customers.
[Waleeporn]: OK, k. Alexandra, lots of people talk about fail fast, fail forward. As a CEO, how do you motivate your staff when they fail?
[Alexandra]: So especially as I mentioned also before, uncertainty is all around us. We don’t know what to do exactly, and we can’t plan long ahead. Those times are over where you can really plan. I would say for one, two, three years. So we have to constantly kind of iterate and learn. And that also means that you will fail, but you will fail and learn, and then the next time you do it better. And that’s where you need to, on the one hand, show yourself that you’re also willing to fail and learn. So it’s also giving an example to your colleagues, but on the other hand, really kind of, you know, if somebody makes a mistake, just take that as an example and say OK. What did we learn out of it and how we can improve it? And then people are going to understand it’s not about doing everything right, or not doing anything because that’s the biggest risk, because you know trying out things, iterating, getting better, improving, and that’s also the agile way of work. That you try out things, you learn, and that might also mean that you fail, but then you also do it better.
[Waleeporn]: Ok, agile way of work, right? So you allow people to fail and learn and improve.
[Alexandra]: Yes, yes, and it comes back to also being curious because, uh, if you are constantly curious then you constantly improve, and the expectations of customers change. The world is changing out there so you have to constantly learn and improve.
[Waleeporn]: k. Alex. How do you win people’s hearts, and drive culture change in the organization?
[Alexandra]: So I when I came to dtac, we were in quite rough times, but uh, I think you win people’s heart if you are very open. If you’re very transparent and if you share what you feel, because even if things are not going the right way, if you talk about it, and if you tell people what you want to do and what you believe needs to be done there, then they will come along. Then they will share with you, all there, I mean they will share the patience with you, and, uh, I think that’s what I really enjoyed in Thailand. I enjoyed it in dtac.
That people came by my side, they really supported, and they really wanted to be part of it and that’s how you win, also, the hearts of people internally. But it’s not only internally, it’s also externally, and it’s very much the same thing. We didn’t go out there and pretended that things are going well, but we also shared with our customers that we have some problems, but we will fix them and that’s when they felt. OK, we believe you we trust you, so we stay with you, and we even support you. And that was also the same with our stakeholders.
And working for example with the regulator in Thailand. It was a great experience because even they were listening to us and as much as they could, we collaborated and work together. And that’s even true for our competitors. So I mean, I always felt the respect of our competitors. And so for me, working with stakeholders, and especially the people in dtac, was a fantastic experience, and I think being open and transparent, and believing in what you doing, that’s how you succeed even in rough times.
[Waleeporn]: OK, so you make your people understand, OK, and also even the regulator also understands about what you are going to do. And if there are any problems, then you just like tell them that and you are gonna fix it and OK.
[Alexandra]: It’s very much. I mean, people want to understand why things are happening, and that’s also how you engage with them. And if you have a plan, how to fix it, then share it with them. Let them know because then they can contribute. And that’s not only within dtac, but it was also, you know working with the stakeholders, even our boards, if they understand it’s much easier. But that means to be very honest and open.
[Waleeporn]: OK. And k. Alexandra. Would you please share to our audience about your memorable achievement in your career that you feel proud of?
[Alexandra]: So you know there’s so many memorable things, and, uh, most, it’s not even big achievements, it’s more events. And what I’m really proud of in my past is how people developed around here. For example, there was a young guy when I worked back in Switzerland. He didn’t finish any education, he was working in one of our shops, but he was eager to do something bigger, and to develop himself. And then I guided him. I guided him. I told him you have to finish school; you have to do University. And then I mean everything is open to you, and now he’s an investment banker. He’s a very successful young investment banker.
And to just watch him how he developed and how he fulfilled his dreams, with the support and guidance I could give him through it, during the time he worked with me. It’s just what makes me very happy, and that’s super memorable. And that has happened a few times, so growing people, developing people, these are the most memorable events in my life. But also, I mean, I think how we developed dtac. And how dtac came out of rough times after the end of recession, and that of collaboration, working in a team together, fighting together. These are memorable things. So if you do something on your own, that’s nice, but that’s not memorable. But if you do it that’s what you will always remember, and that’s what you can really celebrate and think about when you look back.
It was a team effort to really bring back dtac growth, and I remember that’s really one memorable event, when we first shared it with the financial market. How we had kind of been able to turn around the situation in dtac. It was, you know, we did it together as a team, as a management team, but also with people in dtac And it’s yeah that, still thinking about it gives me goosebumps.
[Waleeporn]: Yes. So k. Alexandra, you not only build the organization, you also build people right?
[Alexandra]: Yes. And that’s great, that’s, I mean, I think that’s what you will always be able to look back too, and I’m still in contact with a lot of colleagues from all over the world. Whether it’s in Europe but also in Thailand, are still growing, and I’m super excited about it. One colleague of ours, for example, moved to Singapore and now works for Netflix and he is doing a fantastic job and I’m proud to see that. And that’s happened for many others also internally indeed.
[Waleeporn]: OK, um k. Alex my last question. Actually, I don’t want it to be the last. I would like to talk to you all day.
[Alexandra]: I enjoy it as well.
[Waleeporn]: My last question is, สัญญาว่าจะไม่หยุด or never stop improving, is your quote, right?
[Waleeporn]: Yes, k. Alex, how do you apply it to business and in your life?
[Alexandra]: So I think in business, that’s what I’ve been mentioning before, things are changing so quickly. Expectations of customers, but also behavior of customers is changing constantly. Technology is changing, so you have to constantly improve and, that means also as a leader that you have to constantly challenge the organization. You have to constantly ask for something better, that might be sometimes a bit annoying for your colleagues. But in the end that’s what makes you grow. And I think, you know, constantly iterating, becoming better, learning, experimenting, and also failing. As we mentioned before, that’s where you kind of even keep up with customer expectations. How you keep up with technology, and you always gotta be in the forefront of development. And with my own life, I think at late, so, I tried to challenge my kids constantly, and my husband. After 26 years, which we are actually together tomorrow, he is constantly improving as well.
[Waleeporn]: Oh OK, so 26 years tomorrow. Happy Anniversary, in advance.
[Alexandra]: Thank you very much.
[Waleeporn]: So OK, so you keep challenging right? And never stop improving. Mai yut.
[Alexandra]: Mai yut, ka.
[Waleeporn]: Uh-huh, make it better and better.
[Alexandra]: And that’s where you get the fun and the energy from, if you constantly try to do things better, otherwise it becomes boring.
[Waleeporn]: Yeah, we can learn new things. Learn many things, new things. K. Alex, OK good, , on behalf of Open Talk, I would like to thank you once again. And it’s really a great honor having you today, and if you have any room for collaboration in the future, please advise us. And this is Alexander Reich from Vienna. Thank you so much.
[Alexandra]: Thanks. Very much, and, uh, I send my best regards to everyone in Thailand and I hope to come back very, very soon. Kob khun ka, sawadee ka.
About TCC Technology Group
TCC Technology Group is a Technology Solutions Partner, aiming to address customers’ requirements with Best Value Solutions through Neutral & Trusted Facilities. These are certified under ISO27001, supported by a Secure Cloud Platform (certified under CSA STAR and PCI DSS), supported by Strong Connectivity, and managed by Experienced Professionals. TCC Technology Group consists of T.C.C. Technology Co., Ltd. (TCCtech), Leap Solutions Asia Co., Ltd. (LSA) and Shinasub Co., Ltd. (SNS). This power of Synergies among companies under TCC Conglomerates and Global Strategic Partners enhances continuous growth and commitment towards sustainability.
For more details, please visit https://www.tcc-technology.com/en