Following in the foot-steps of her father, Sornthep Sornthong, a renowned folk singer and practitioner of traditional medicinal arts, 41-year-old Salilaporn Kongthongmaneeroj is the CEO of nutritional supplement company Me Infinity, which she founded in 2013. Some 40 years ago, her father established Sornthep, a traditional medicine business, which she joined in 2003. Her work over many years has helped to hone her business expertise and give her the confidence to strike out with her own venture. Me Infinity is her own project but it also carries on her father’s legacy.
As a student, Salilaporn earned a master’s degree in business administration from Khon Kaen University and followed it with a mental health qualification from Chulalongkorn University. She has also completed numerous courses in traditional Thai medicine. In light of her father’s long-standing success and recognition, she admits there have been times when she has felt as if she is living in his shadow. “My father has built such a strong foundation and I think the biggest challenge for me is to keep the family business going strong whilst also making my own mark.”
Although she has faced numerous challenges, Salilaporn is determined to drive the family business forward. “It’s crazy how fast things change in today’s world,” she says. “Which means we have to always come up with new ideas, be it in terms of the product or marketing in order to not fall behind. The ultimate goal for us is to preserve not only herbal medicine but more specifically traditional Thai herbal medicine,” she says. “We want people to remember that in Thailand, we have great local remedies with countless health benefits, including those that contribute to the prevention of illness and not just the cure.”
Behind her petite and friendly demeanour is a headstrong and driven businesswoman whose career path has taken a number of interesting sidetracks. Besides her executive role at Me Infinity, which has just launched a new energy drink called Iceberg in Cambodia and China, Salilaporn has hosted a series of television travel shows for viewers of all ages, released a an album of folk songs and helped her father run numerous radio stations, among other things. Recently, she expanded her scope of work to include a satellite television business, Me Channel, which offers a variety of entertainment ranging from music to shows for children.
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Work aside, Salilaporn is a known as a top spender on fashion and something of an unofficial brand ambassador for the Emporium. Some of her favourite brands include Hermes, Chanel, Dior and Prada. Her high-end collection of bags and all sorts of other desirable accessories continues to grow and while it might be difficult for some to understand, for Salilaporn shopping is a form of catharsis. “Looking for beautiful clothes is therapeutic and relaxing for me. Others may enjoy admiring paintings. I love looking at clothes. Well-made, stylish garments are wearable works of art.”
That said, since she and husband Nathaphat Suwanno had young son Meeboon a year and a half ago, Salilaporn’s yen for retail therapy has cooled—but only up to a point. “I think lately I have become less preoccupied with incessantly buying clothes and fashion items,” she says, but then adds with a giggle, “To be honest, I still shop an awful lot but mostly for my son who isn’t even two years old yet.”
A beach lover, Salilaporn also likes to discover new places and when her schedule permits she enjoys a long and relaxing cruise. “I really want to see the northern lights,” she smiles. “That’s high on my bucket list. At the moment work takes up much of my time and I thrive on it, but there is my son to think about and someday I will need to slow down. For now though, I will always find something to keep me busy.”
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