When it comes to the gender gap in leadership roles, there is much room for improvement. However, a lot has changed, with the number of women in senior leadership positions at an all-time high. We sat down with Lalitphat Toranavikrai (Khun Pam), who tells us how she broke the glass ceiling to become CEO at our joint venture, SCB Julius Baer.
Khun Pam has been working in SCB for over 12 years, with previous experience in the private banking sector in Singapore. Prior to becoming the CEO of SCB Julius Baer Securities Company Limited (SCBJB), Lalitphat was Head of Private Banking at SCB. Over the years, she has developed wealth management infrastructure and strong relationships with her clients, and garnered extensive domestic knowledge and experience serving the UHNW and HNW individuals in Thailand.
We caught up with Khun Pam to find out how she manages the joint venture and the secret to her success.
Since the start of the joint venture, how has SCBJB progressed?
Lalitphat Toranavikrai: "SCBJB is like a start-up or a hybrid with new models, and is relatively young in the private banking industry in Asia. Despite the pandemic in 2020, we have been receiving positive response from clients.
Just a few months back, the Bank of Thailand relaxed some of its foreign exchange control rules, which I believe will boost foreign investments. Off-shore markets are getting closer and Thailand is now more open to off-shore investments. Thus, we need to move fast and strike while the iron is hot by expanding our client base in Thailand.
SCBJB managed to deliver in 2020 while jointly leveraging on Julius Baer’s strengths and expertise in global private banking, and SCB’s deep local knowledge of clients in Thailand. Our competitors don’t have this hybrid facility in-house."
What advice would you give someone who aspires to build a career in private banking?
"For anyone aspiring to build a career in private banking, it is crucial to acquire experience, as relationship building is the key factor in all that we do. From the start, learn how clients think, act, and operate. Anticipate market trends and always be humble enough to learn from others – whether it be colleagues or regulators.
Also, remember that yesterday’s experience or laurels do not guarantee tomorrow’s success. Therefore, if you have a vision, believe in yourself and pursue it passionately. Don’t just set targets and goals – initiate and do something every day. Be creative and come up with new ideas. Be an entrepreneur! Soon, you will realise that each step taken contributes to the overall progress or change.
All of these skills and the knowledge gathered from serving clients over the years will truly be useful when the opportunity arises. There is always something to learn from each challenge. Be open and learn from other team members, whatever their ranks or job functions may be.
We all know that private banking is a competitive industry. When we see any potential opportunities, be quick and respond early. Success can be achieved even if we are faced with challenges. Everyone should do their part – like the concept of a wheel’s ‘hub and spokes’ – and achieve goals as a team."
What were some of the challenges you faced as a female CEO in a male-dominated industry?
“Even in today’s world, women can be wrongfully perceived as less capable. Therefore, I think we often need to work harder than men for our voices to be heard. I truly believe that if we are firm and present our propositions with credibility and soundness, we can influence others or make others change their perceptions towards us. Be persistent in standing behind your beliefs and soon you will see good results. In general, there’s no need for anyone to be aggressive when faced with opposition – just be firm and state your thoughts clearly and calmly.”
It is also important to believe in yourself to turn your dreams into reality. When it seems like the world is different than you’d imagined and a tough ground for breakthroughs, or when you feel you are being treated differently due to your gender, age, etc., that is when you’ll need to be persistent and strive to make things happen. If you continue in the right direction, soon you’ll see the fruits of your labour."
How do you balance work and personal interests?
"I treat my career as an integral part of my life. I don’t feel any pressure although I spend long hours at work every day. Over the years, I have made many friends in the private banking industry and some of them are so close that they are like family members to me now.
I do carve out time for my family and in pursuit of personal interests. My family is also supportive and understanding in all that I do. Twice a week, I de-stress with Pilates. On weekends, I hibernate and rest to recharge. Before Covid-19, I used to travel at least twice a year to exotic destinations, especially to places less travelled, to acquire new experiences and perspectives in life."
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