A major force in the retail business, Supaluck Umpujh is the vice chairwoman of The Mall Group, one of the biggest retail operators in Thailand. Supaluck also holds the position chairwoman of Siam Paragon Development and the Emporium Group, where she has led various retail mega projects including The Em District (consisting of the Emporium, the EmQuartier and the upcoming EmSphere), as well as Blu Port in Hua Hin and Blu Pearl in Phuket. Early this year she launched Escape, a hip rooftop play and drink space at EmQuartier.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Mahidol University and a master’s in physical and industrial pharmacy from Purdue University in the United States, Supaluck began her career as a sales representative with Atlantic. She then became the trading manager for the Mall Department Store, where her strong vision and impressive track record won her the respect of the board of directors. Nicknamed The Iron Butterfly of Thai retailing by Fortune magazine, Supaluck was regarded as the Outstanding Businesswoman 2004 by the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Association of Thailand. Supaluck has also been recognised as Person of the Year by Thailand Tatler magazine in 2015.
Influential businesswoman Yuwadee Chirathivat has dedicated almost four decades to the success of the Central Department Store Group under the family business of the Central Group. One of the eight children of Samrit Chirathivat, she is the mother of Chodok, Barom and Voralaksanai Bhicharnchitr. Now holding the position of executive director of Central Retail, she is known, however, as the driving force behind the international expansion of Central Department Store and the success behind the group’s global recognition, Yuwadee was on Forbes’ list of Asia’s 50 Most Influential Businesswomen two years in a row. The group’s latest international success is the opening of the flagship store, La Rinascente, in 2017 situated right in the heart of Rome. Having celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017, Central Department Store was first founded in 1947 and became the first department store to have branches throughout Thailand.
Looking at the future, Yuwadee reflects on the changing landscape of the retail business and the importance of omni-channel retail. “With the industry shifting towards digital channels rapidly, it is important to keep innovating and embrace these new developments, leading the way to ensure that we can continue with our long-term sustainable growth model. We aim to extend our current retail platforms with pioneering use of new technology to offer a seamless shopping experience for our customers, with a synergy of the physical bricks and mortar retail and the creative opportunities of the digital channels for a new generation. At the end of the day, our customers’ shopping experience, regardless of the platform, is the most important thing for us.”
One of Thailand’s top retail development entrepreneurs, Chadatip Chutrakul leads the management and operations of Siam Piwat, the developer of the group of innovative luxury malls in central Bangkok including Siam Paragon, Siam Center and Siam Discovery. She is also the visionary behind IconSiam, the US$1.7 billion landmark on the Chao Phraya River set to be completed in late 2018. Under her leadership, the company has grown rapidly, establishing 35 subsidiaries ranging from retail developments to department stores, specialty retailing, facility management, multi-purpose venue management, high-end restaurant ventures and marketing agency. A graduate of Chulalongkorn University with a degree in banking and finance, Chadatip worked abroad before returning to Thailand and joined Siam Piwat in 1986. She was appointed as managing director of the company in 1996, and CEO of the group in 2005.
Daughter of General Chalermchai Charuvastra, the founder of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Siam Piwat, Chadatip is married to Apichart Chutrakul, founder and chief executive officer of Sansiri Public Company Limited and has one daughter, Chayapa Chutrakul. In 2017, Siam Discovery, one of Siam Piwat's properties, was awarded the Store Design of the Year 2017, the World Retail award by the World Retail Congress and the Gold Award for Marketing Positioning & Brand Awareness from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) as the project with the best marketing, positioning and brand awareness in Asia Pacific.
Daughter of Photipong and Yupa, Nualphan graduated with a degree in marketing from the Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy, Chulalongkorn University before going on to pursue a master's degree in educational management at Boston University. One of Thailand’s leading ladies in both the business and sports sector, Nualphan was among the early importers of designer labels and still owns Hermes distributor Saint Honore (Bangkok). The CEO of Muang Thai Insurance also plays a leading role in the country's sports sector and is the chairwoman of Port football club as well as the manager of Thailand's women’s national football team. The wife of the Correction Department’s director-general Pol Col Dr Naras Savetanan is also a partner of Meister Technik, importer of Audi cars. She also holds the position of honorary consul for the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Lithuania.
About Khunying Natthika
Daughter of Kiat and Chansamorn, Khunying Natthika is the CEO of Eastern Sugar Group and a past president of the National Council of Women as well as the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Association. Married to Sanan, she is an active business leader as well as a key figure in many women’s organisations. Khunying Natthika has been recognised with numerous prestigious awards from both the government and private sectors alike for her contributions. Her passion for working to improve the lives of youth and women in Thailand has led her to establish organisations such as the Young Thai Entrepreneurs Association where she is the founder and chairwoman. Khunying Natthika was also the first women to serve as the honorary chairman for Thai Sugar and Bio-Energy Producers Association (TSEA). In 2017, Khunying Natthika was also recognised by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and was awarded with the Outstanding Person of Protection of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the private sector.
This EMBA Sasin graduate is the CEO of Chaophraya Express Boat. Founded by her mother Khunying Supatra Singholaka in 1971, the company continues to work to provide a high standard of river transportation. Business has grown exponentially throughout the years, although she says government policies pay little attention to the local marine industry. For her, becoming a successful businesswoman and leader entails constant hard work, perseverance, consistency, honesty, the ability to stick to one's words, passion and a good set of values that one is able to instill in the employees.
Having attended school in Switzerland, Supapan’s dream job as a child was to become an interpreter for international conferences and seminars. Looking ahead she says, “I foresee futuristically designed boats with better safety facilities, enhanced comfort, more convenience and environmentally friendly.” Work aside, Supapan enjoys playing the piano and supporting a variety of charities although she admits that as president of the company and the Profession Women Association of Thailand and the Thai Boat Association, she is kept busy. Currently the company is working on replacing wooden boats with a fleet of high speed and more modern ones.
About Dr Nalinee
President and managing director of Thailand’s leading manufacturer and exporter of beauty and health supplement products, Giffarine Skyline Unity, Dr Nalinee Paiboon founded the company in 1996. The medicine graduate from Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University was left with 100 million baht after her divorce. She decided to combine her financial assets with her knowledge to build a direct-marketing company that enables Thais to work on their own. “In retrospect, investing all my savings into Giffarine was the best decision I have ever made,” she says. “The company becoming successful has also led to an income source for hundred of thousands of people.”
Since then Giffarine, with product lines running over 2,000 items spanning cosmetics and food supplements, has grown exponentially and expanded overseas. In 2017, the company accomplished full adaptation of the digital world, with revenue exceeding 68,000 million baht and a global revenue of 5,650 million baht. The key to success, she says, is a deep understanding of the minds and souls of those you are working with. One of her biggest inspirations in life is His Majesty the late King Bhumibol and the way in which he dedicated his life to helping the less fortunate. With that in mind, Nalinee is involved in numerous charities such as an orphanage support fund for college scholarships. A lover of animals, she is also a keen supporter of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. Her mantra: “Happiness will not come from money, but rather, it comes from how you use money as opportunities for the less fortunate people to become successful and happy.”
A mother of four and grandmother of eight, Kamala is the CEO of Kamol Sukosol. Founded in 1939, the renowned holding company opened its first hotel 45 years ago when her father bought land in Pattaya and tasked her with building a hotel on it. Since then, it has grown to become one of the most high-profile hotel groups in the country, with its newest development, The Siam, ranking top on TripAdvisor for the majority of last year and turning into an icon in Bangkok’s luxury hotel scene. Well-informed, decisive and open-minded, she believes the secret to her success as an entrepreneur and female leader is her inner entertainer. CEO by day and a passionate singer in her spare time, her charity concerts and ability to entertain have helped her build invaluable relationships throughout the years of her career, and she firmly believes in maintaining honest trusting relationships with both her teams and business partners. Although she moves in high society and the diplomatic circle, she continues to remember the importance of being humble, and strongly believes that life is too short and that it is important to know your priorities in order to achieve a good work-life balance. Looking ahead, she likes where her company stands now and has high hopes for the future, wishing to focus on quality rather than solely on expansion.
About Khunying Patama
The chief CSR and director of G Steel, Thailand’s leading steel manufacturer which distributes locally and internationally, Khunying Patama is a keen supporter of sports and music who currently holds the position of president of the Badminton Association of Thailand and chairman of the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra of Mahidol University. A philanthropist at heart, she dedicates much of her time in charitable endeavours. Understanding the importance of education, Khunying Patama overseas G Steel’s CRS projects, many of which seek to contribute to the country’s sustainable educational development. As the first Thai woman to be elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee, she is adamant about putting Thai athletes on the international scene while promoting sports as a whole. A good leader, in her eyes, must demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate and listen and a willingness to try to understand other people’s perspective regardless of their backgrounds and experience.
A former teen movie star, Oraphan was already a familiar face in show biz before she married Thai Rath newspaper heir Saravudh. And it is only natural that in 1994, she followed her passion and founded Polyplus Entertainment, a television production company, which continued to grow through the years. In 1998, the company ventured into film production, followed by Polyplus PR and Polyplus Publishing in 2004. Albeit challenges, such as economic instability and tremendous changes in the television and media industry, she has become a successful businesswomen and Polyplus is still going strong, an achievement she attributes to perseverance, positive-thinking and endurance. She is also a mother of three and in her spare time enjoys reading and watching movies.
(See also: Society's Best Dressed Ladies In 2017)