Sunee Seripanu, CEO of the Mc Group, Wandee Khunchornyakong, CEO of SPCG Plc, Yuwadee Chirathivat, CEO of the Central Department Store Group, Somporn Juangroongruangkit, chairman of the Thai Summit Group, and Chadatip Chutrakul, CEO of Siam Piwat Co. (Bangkok Post photos)
Five Thais made Forbes Asia magazine’s list of the Asia’s 50 most powerful businesswomen this year, the most since the list was begun in 2012.
List returnees Chadatip Chutrakul, CEO of Siam Piwat Co and Somporn Juangroongruangkit, chairman of the Thai Summit Group were joined this year by Sunee Seripanu, CEO of the Mc Group, Wandee Khunchornyakong, CEO of SPCG Plc, and Yuwadee Chirathivat, CEO of the Central Department Store Group.
To make the list, published in Forbes Asia's March issue, "candidates have to be active in the upper echelons of the business world in Asia, wield significant power and have access to robust financial resources," the magazine said.
China dominated the list, with nine women from the mainland, followed by India with six, and Singapore with four women on the list, including Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and executive director of Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings.
The magazine also listed 12 "women to watch" who could make the list next year. That dozen included Caroline Link, president of the B. Grimm real estate giant.
Only two of the five women on this year's list of powerful businesswomen are making their debuts: Ms Sunee and Ms Wandee. Ms Yuwadee was named in Forbes' inaugural list in 2012, but had dropped off.
With the recent reorganization of Central Group into eight divisions, Yuwadee, 61, became CEO of Central Department Store, overseeing local expansion in Thailand as well as to Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Europe, under subsidiary brands. Forbes said she is the highest-ranking female executive in this family-run firm and heads its most-visible unit.
Ms Sunee, 50, has led Mc Group for almost two decades, making it one of the leading makers of jeans in the Asean region. Last year it added 114 sales channels in Thailand and expanded to Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Ms Sunee owns 45% of Mc Group, which she became CEO of in 1996.
Ms Wandee has led the builder and operator of solar plants to 35% growth during the past year. She founded the company in 1996 and, with Japanese partner Kyocera, SPCG has constructed 36 solar photovoltaic farms in Thailand since 2010. By 2019, it has plans to increase energy capacity 67% to 500 megawatts. She also is ranked 48th on the Forbes Asia list of wealthiest Thais with net worth of $345 million.
Maintaining her position on the list this year, Ms Chadatip, 54, heads some of Bangkok's flashiest shopping malls and last year oversaw the launch of the riverside IconSiam, a $1.54 billion, 20-acre shopping and residential complex.
Also returning this year is Ms Somporn, 64, who, with her late husband, built Thai Summit into an auto- and motorcycle-parts powerhouse with 23,000 employees and operations in eight countries. She also owns a 20% stake in the Matichon newspaper group. She is ranked 28th on the Forbes Asia list of richest Thais with wealth of $900 million, She also is an avid golfer and a founder of the Thai LPGA, which plays at her Pattana Golf & Sports Resort.
Before making the Top 50, Ms Sunee and Ms Wandee showed up on Forbes' "Women to Watch" list, which this year features Ms Link. Just 33 years old, she has worked in B. Grimm's energy, cooling systems, healthcare and real estate divisions, learning the business from the ground up with an eye on eventually succeeding her father, Harald, the group's chairman.
Besides the five Thais, the Forbes Asia list also welcomed its first Myanmar woman executive this year, Win Win Tint. By age 39, she took the family grocery store and created a retail conglomerate that includes supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies and bookstores. She is one of the youngest women on the Top 50 list.