Senior Executive-Life Issues

The Nation: Thai firms again hiring world talent

01 June 2004

A leading human capital specialist talks to KI Woo about some of her industry’s latest trends.

With the Thai economy enjoying a robust recovery, large companies are once again honing their operating structures so they can compete successfully in the new global environment.

No longer in the survival and restructuring mode, many of these Thai companies are now actively considering how they must adjust their organizations so that they can attract top-level managers who have developed their skills at major multinational corporations.

Vauraporn Iamsupanimitr, vice president and head of talent acquisition at Human Capital Alliance Ltd (HCA), said most large Thai companies that survived the 1997 financial crisis are now actively seeking managers with multinational corporation experience to help drive them to the next level of competitiveness and ultimately to professionalize their organizations.

“All Thai companies want to ensure that they have or can develop global-class processes and operating structures that will allow them to successfully compete with anyone in the world,” she said.

While some Thai companies may currently have organizational infrastructures and environments that will attract MNC-experienced professional managers, Vauraporn said many of them must still undertake minor infrastructure adjustments and slight modifications to their traditional corporate cultures and working environments if they hope to attract and retain seasoned MNC-experienced professionals.

“Although compensation is an important element that attracts top-level professionals, a company’s operational infrastructure, work environment and culture are equally as important,” she said.

According to Vauraporn, when MNC-experienced professionals are asked to explore opportunities with large local companies, they usually want to reassure themselves that the company’s corporate culture and operating environments will allow them to optimize their management skills. “They are usually concerned about the company’s decision-making processes. Many large local companies are known for slow and bureaucratic decision-making processes,” she said.

She said HCA helps local companies adapt their infrastructures and corporate cultures so that they can first attract and then retain the top professionals in the country. “Every company now strives to be the employer of choice in its specific industry – then they can ensure that they will attract the best people,” she said.

Many large Thai companies, Vauraporn said, were gradually evolving into professionally run organizations. These companies are also constantly trying to merge the best Western management practices with Asia ’s unique culturally influenced business environment.

“Our people also help these companies recognize and bridge the gaps between Western management practices and the unique requirements of Asian companies,” she said.

The key to successfully developing global management practices in Asia and particularly in Thailand , Vauraporn said, was knowing how to combine pragmatic, analytical-based Western business strategies with holistic Asian practices that emphasize balance and harmony. “Successful Asian companies of the future will be those that can efficiently and effectively meld the best of both worlds,” she said.

Another critical HCA service, she said, was scouring the community for top professionals who could specifically satisfy a company’s individual talent needs. “Every company has its own unique management needs,” she said.

The 1997 economic crisis, Vauraporn said, has affected how many Thai management professionals view their jobs. “Pre-crisis, they really weren’t interested in exploring new opportunities,” she said.

Today, most Thai management professionals want to explore new opportunities. The crisis made them realize that a “company for life” was no longer the paradigm. “HCA helps them explore career opportunities,” she said.

Vauraporn added that many MNC-experienced management professionals in their early 40s are now willing to explore opportunities with large local companies. These professionals, she said, realize they will be able to use their MNC-experiences and proven track records to bring real change to local companies. “They just need reassurance that the local company’s corporate culture and perhaps most importantly its leadership will support their efforts to effect change,” she said.

She said Thailand has developed a strong core of top professional managers, who have been trained locally and overseas by major multinational companies, who can help major Thai companies successfully compete globally.

“Many of these managers now realize that large local family-owned companies may be where they can maximize their potential,” she said.

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