With brands such as Martell, Chivas Regal and Absolut Vodka in its stable, drinks behemoth Pernod Ricard enjoys a high profile in Thailand—as it does all over the world—and it’s a position that obviously fills Krisada Kamolvarinthip with pride. Indeed, he sparkles like a crystal whisky tumbler as he delves into the history of the company.
“We’re eponymously named after two popular French spirits, Pernod anise and Ricard pastis, both of which have an aniseed flavour. Usually served as an aperitif, they were originally made by rival families who merged their businesses in 1975. Today we have 17 of the world’s top 100 wine and spirit brands in our portfolio,” the 44-year-old says.
Not that marketing for one of the planet’s biggest drinks companies was his initial calling, as the Assumption College alumnus explains. “When I was a youngster I was very into the sciences and maths and wanted to become an engineer…then somehow I ended up working in economics,” he laughs. This is a reference to a stint at Schroders, the global asset management company, where Krisada laboured on mergers and acquisitions and gave financial advice to clients such as Standard Chartered Bank. His route to the world of high finance was paved with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Boston University and an MBA from Bentley College, with a year spent at the Rentus advertising agency in Tokyo sandwiched in between.
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Then Pernod Ricard came calling in 2002. “Chivas Regal was looking for a marketing manager and my mother and father, who had worked in marketing and advertising respectively, pointed out that the brand was growing and that there was great potential for the label in Thailand. So I applied for the position and was lucky enough to get it.”
A strong team player with natural mentoring skills, Krisada took to the job immediately and in the intervening years worked his way up to his current position. Today, as marketing director, he has numerous responsibilities. “I oversee the selling strategies for our entire portfolio in Thailand, as well as individual product positioning and trade marketing,” he explains. “I’m also keen to advance those around me. I tell my teams that what we do is somewhere between selling fast-moving commerial goods and luxury products. Our price points make us stand out and are directly linked to our customers and their lifestyle aspirations.”
The business is not without its challenges though. “We operate in a highly regulated industry when it comes to how we advertise our brands and so we need to be extra creative in how we get our messages across. This is why we recently set up an in-house digital team to try and digitise our brand communications and activation,” he says.
In a position such as Krisada’s it is easy become married to the job—constant client meetings, F&B industry parties and brand promotional events go with the territory and often blur the line between business and pleasure. But while he is ambitious enough to aspire to a general management position in the future, he admits he would like to spend more time with his family. “I don’t get enough time with them to be honest. I would like to take my wife to events during the week and dedicate weekends to my kids but my current role is seven-days-a-week by nature. However, I am trying to strike more of a balance and block time for family holidays. These, let me tell you, require more planning than my work because our children are two and half and 12 years old, so when we travel the attractions have to accommodate both. Life is fun but never simple,” he laughs.