Kan Trakulhoon, the heir apparent at the Siam Cement Group, aims to turn the conglomerate into the No-1 player in Southeast Asia in all of its core businesses - reports The Nation."We don’t want to be merely a domestic player. We must be able to compete and become number one in Asean in every core business that we do, be it in cement, building materials, chemicals and paper," he said. "Therefore, a key challenge is that we have to develop our people to become regional citizens, not merely Thai citizens."
In his first interview since his appointment last month as executive vice president, Kan, now 49, said the major challenge for Siam Cement is not limited to guarding its domestic leadership but it would also have to expand its businesses regionally to become an international player.
Kan said by "regional citizens" he means that Siam Cement staff must be prepared to be posted to any country in Asean and still feel at home. Developing language skills, he said, was among the capabilities that Siam Cement aims to develop in its 18,000 employees.
Markets within Southeast Asia, which has about 350-million people, are integrating as tariffs come down due to implementation of the Asean Free Trade Area.
At present, the Siam Cement Group only has a handful of investment projects in the region, mainly in Indonesia and the Philippines. One of its largest overseas subsidiaries is United Pulp and Paper, a joint venture that manufactures packaging paper in the Philippines. The venture has total assets of more than Bt4 billion. Kan said Siam Cement treated its people as its most valuable assets. Three to four years ago the group began to recruit new staff, even though the economy had not fully recovered. This year, the conglomerate plans to hire 200 more staff.
"I have been working here for 27 years. I have never thought of myself as being an employee, rather a guy who belongs to the group. I have never thought of quitting the firm even for a minute," he said.
Kan¹s appointment as executive vice president a newly created position second only to Chumpol Na Lamlieng, the president is widely seen as preparation for him to take over the leadership at Siam Cement. Chumpol is expected to take early retirement next year.
To ensure a smooth transition, however, Chumpol is expected to become an executive chairman after retiring as president for a period, informed sources said.
"There is likely to be a reshuffle at the management committee [which Chumpol now chairs] to retain Khun Chumpol for a while," a company source said. "This is because the age gap is wide between the current management and the new ones and the changes will occur simultaneously on several men at the top."
Sources said Kan had been chosen over two other top candidates Kajohndet Sangsuban, head of the group’s building materials division, and Pramote Techasupatkul, head of its cement division partly because of his wider experience within the group. Kajohndet has largely worked in marketing the group¹s building materials, while Pramote has worked mainly in the cement business. Kan, however, has experience in production and marketing in cement and other building materials, as well as petrochemicals.
"Cement demand is growing at a double-digit growth rate. Even though there could be some slowdown in the second half, our target of 10-per-cent cement sales growth for the entire year is achievable," he said.