KBank’s first female CEO, Kattiya Indaravijaya on equal opportunities for all genders in Thailand’s banking sector
“When you’re in business, what you have to do is deliver performance to all the stakeholders. It’s the way that you try to deliver the best results that you can and having everyone as a team to help you and support you in delivering those results.”
Equal opportunities for all
Kattiya Indaravijaya, the CEO of Kasikorn Bank, is among a handful of female leaders in Thailand’s banking industry, where more women are holding senior management positions and sitting on boards of directors.
As she shares her views with Thai PBS World, after Thailand hosted the Global Summit of Women 2022 back in June, she discusses how the number of female leadership positions are increasing every year.
“In terms of staff, 70% of them are female, with about 47% of females at senior-management level and 44% on the board of directors,” Kattiya explains. She said she strongly believes that the proportions of male and female employees is not the issue.
“What we should focus on more is gender equality,” she said, adding that giving the same opportunities to everyone, regardless of their gender, is most important. With that said, it can still be a big challenge for her as a leader.
“I think what we have to do is give equal opportunities to everyone. Whoever they are, they will get the same opportunity, and then it’s their job to prove whether they can discover themselves, challenge their boundaries and deliver different results. As a leader, that’s the challenge.”
Having an increasing percentage of females at decision-making levels, particularly on the board of directors, can be considered an achievement. Kattiya honoured her predecessor, Banthoon Lamsam, for setting the tone, which allows more women to occupy such positions.
It’s all about the performance
With more than 30 years in various senior-level positions throughout her career at Kasikorn Bank, Kattiya was appointed CEO in 2020, becoming the very first female and the first person who’s not from the Lamsam family, which owns the banking empire, to take the helm.
Being the first female CEO, succeeding Banthoon Lamsam, who helmed his family’s business for 40 years, is already a tough job. The only way to get through it, however, is to prove herself with her performance, which will naturally inspire other employees and ensure that there are equal opportunities for them to grow, regardless of their backgrounds.
“So it’s a burden for the leader like me,” she admits. “I had to prove that a woman and a non-family member is able to deliver the same results or even exceed their expectations. When I was able to prove that, that meant people looked at me and they believed that [this kind of person] can also deliver the same results, no less than others.”
As to how hard it was to prove that she has what it takes to be the leader, Kattiya reflected on how she enjoyed working and celebrating the success with the team along the way. Apart from proving her capabilities, working well with others is the most important skill for all employees.
“Because, in the banking industry, you have to work as a cross-functional team,” she explains. “You have IT, legal, business, product and risk-management. We have to work well [together] to reach the target and deliver to customers. I think that’s what we have to prove. If you want to grow into the next level, you have to prove that you work well with others and deliver beyond expectations.”
You define your own success
As to what she wants to say to all women, Kattiya says that “It’s your life. You can design your life to be whatever you want.”
As she explains, life is like playing cards, where you have different cards to choose from, ranging from your strengths, weakness and many others, and you have to play your cards wisely. In other words, it’s all up to you to define success in life.
“You can say you want to be a successful career-woman, you can say that you want to help children or your community, or you want to be a super-mom for your family, that’s also okay… When you decide and choose your path, go for it, don’t hesitate and don’t look back.”
As she was also part of the Thai Host Committee for this year’s Global Summit of Women, Kattiya hopes to see more women being inspired by other “powerful” women at this event into making positive changes and having an impact on their companies, communities and their country.
By Nad Bunnag, Thai PBS World