Suwannee Singluedej, President & CEO at Siemens Limited Thailand shares her fulfilling career over two decades with Siemens
I joined Siemens 24 years ago, and my journey with the company has been one full of opportunities and learnings – and of course some challenges too.
But no matter where my career has taken me, Siemens has always offered opportunities to grow, to challenge myself and improve the business in all my roles with the company. The dynamic of our business and the industries we work in has driven me to hone a leadership philosophy that laid a solid foundation for overcoming many challenges throughout the past two decades.
All of this has been integral to my career, which I’d like to share with you today.
Forging the path
I started my tech career in sales and marketing in IT industry. I joined Siemens in 1996 as a Marketing Manager of Private Communications business before moving on to Head of Siemens Mobile Phone business in 1999, where I was fully responsible for profit and loss of the business.
I am not an engineer by training and am often asked whether not having technical background posed a challenge in advancing my career. It certainly was not easy. When I took on the role of Head of Enterprise Business in 2005, the business was enterprise-grade communications systems, which, when compared to mobile phones, required more complicated technical knowledge of the offered solutions to be able to effectively communicate with customers and to understand what would make the business a success.
My approach was simple, as there was no other way around. Realizing that I did not need to know all technical details but I needed to know enough, I committed myself to learning about both the technical and business sides of the products/solutions. This helped me understand the ‘big picture’ and identify what was crucial to get us ahead of the competition and win businesses.
I followed the same approach when Siemens later opened up more opportunities to me despite my non-engineering background. From 2010, I took on a number of business leader roles including Head of Building Technologies, Head of Energy Management, and Managing Director for Myanmar and Cambodia. These were businesses that were again different, technology geographical-wise, from the businesses I had managed. I am proud to say that since Siemens’ reentry in Myanmar and Cambodia in 2013, we have sizeable businesses in both countries today.
Now, as President & Chief Executive Officer of Siemens Thailand, I like to think I’m living proof that anyone – including non-engineers and women – can do whatever they set their mind to. Success comes down to having the courage to take on new challenges, fully committing to achieving your goals and always learning – from colleagues, customers, partners, and even competitors.
It takes a village to build a successful company
Rome wasn’t built in one day, nor by one person. I have been very fortunate to have all-star teams along the way who have helped build the businesses to where we are today.
As a leader, my leadership approach for people focuses on three principles:
- Drive, motivate and inspire others
- Promote cooperation and collaboration
- Trust and empower people
The first principle is grounded in motivating people to be proactive and innovative, rather than using a ‘command and control’ management style. Giving people meaning and purpose in their work not only ensures happier team members but also helps boost greater performance and productivity as a company.
Secondly, promoting collaboration amongst team members creates a spirit of camaraderie and encourages people to share their knowledge and skills, and accomplish goals together.
Finally, trust and empowerment give teams more room to be creative, find new solutions to old problems, and look to the future to grow and shape the long-term success of the company.
These principles combined have enabled me to motivate my team, achieve agility and flexibility, and guide the organization successfully through various business and economic hurdles over the years.
My advice to others? Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges
I would like to see more young women – with or without an engineering background – follow in my footsteps. Although the gender gap in business leadership still exists, it is getting smaller every year. In 2019, the proportion of women in senior management roles globally grew to 29%, the highest number ever recorded.
If you want to excel, have courage and don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, even if you think the shoes you have to fill are too big for you. Grow fast and work hard to fit into those shoes, and you’ll go far in any career you choose.