In conversation with
In conversation with Mr. Pitharn Ongkosit
President & CEO | Kce Electronics Public Company Limited
FDI Spotlight: What is your approach to innovation and value addition?
Mr. Pitharn Ongkosit: I really believe in innovation. To be innovative is not just bringing in a new machine to the factory, it is actually creating an innovative and value addition mindset of the people within the company. Most people assume that innovation comes from top down. My belief is that it should come from a combination of both top down and bottom up, which for me is the sign of a good management team; both receiving and implementing new ideas. We always try to talk with our 6,000 employees to see what’s going well and what is not in order to be aware of the changes that need to be implemented.
We all need to play our role when it comes to fostering innovation and technology for Thailand. The fastest way to improve the cumulative innovative level of the country is to hire experts from abroad and work together with them. Thailand needs to continue collaborating with researchers from driving economies like America, China, Japan, and Europe. At KCE Electronics we work with leading experts in research and new technologies from Europe and the United States. We all have comparative strengths and weaknesses to share, and to learn from and grow. Partnerships andknowledge exchange is the natural progression for innovation and development. Considering we’re a family owned business, transformation and decision making in the innovative process can be implemented faster.
With the AEC coming into place at the end of last year, what are the opportunities you foresee for the manufacturing sector in Thailand?
Mr. Pitharn Ongkosit: I can foresee a significant knowledge and skills transfer with the inauguration of the AEC. It is similar to Taiwan and China a few years back when China had the labour and resources to develop the new technology that was in Taiwan. Thailand is more technologically advanced than our surrounding countries. If we open new plants in the CLMV region, we and our neighbours can both benefit and grow sustainably. They have a larger pool of human capital and we have the technological expertise. We can help each other.
Thailand is not only the manufacturing and production hub of ASEAN, but most importantly, it is the technical expert in this part of the world that you need to partner with. Thailand has very good infrastructure compared with many of the other countries in the region. The AEC has the potential to eclipse China if we act now and focus on innovation and value addition across the borders. This window of opportunity for sustained growth has to be capitalised by the first movers in key driver industries. We had political problems that interfered with the private sector in the past, but we always recovered very fast and continued to grow.
Is now the moment for foreign investors to be looking at Thailand’s manufacturing sector?
Mr. Pitharn Ongkosit: Right now we have a very good opportunity to grow. The basis for development is already in place: the infrastructure, the transportation, and the motivation to move up the value chain. I encourage all investors with their eyes on Thailand to come now and partner with us to help make the country more competitive. Thailand plays a very important role in ASEAN and has a lot of opportunities to develop the manufacturing sector regionally. At this moment of global economic uncertainty, Thailand needs to also understand and incorporate the concept of a sustainable economy. The country is moving away from commodity prices to value addition, high technology and innovation. This is exactly the direction we need to go in order to ensure sustainable economic growth so Thailand can become more competitive globally.