Meet The First Thai And First Female Managing Director Of Starbucks Thailand
Nednapa Srisamai was an avid coffee drinker long before she became managing director of Starbucks in Thailand in early 2018. As a student studying for a bachelor’s and then master’s degree in commerce and accounting at Thammasat University she says she fuelled herself on the heady bean. Following the retirement of former MD Murray Darling, Nednapa became the first Thai and first woman to be appointed managing director for Starbucks Coffee Thailand.
Having worked for the company for over 14 years, she was corporate services director prior to her promotion with a record performance. The 55-year-old has been instrumental in the company’s excellent financial operations and was recognised for the local expansion of Starbucks—from 75 branches when she first joined to over 320 branches nationwide to date. “Starbucks believes in equality and diversity amongst their employees, and I am deeply honoured to be given this opportunity.”
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In addition to fostering and managing strategies alongside a host of other responsibilities, Nednapa drops in on different Starbucks branches frequently. “I’ve come to realise how crucial communication is. I am focused on getting to know our staff and taking a hands-on perspective.” Hence, there is always one day in the week when she doesn’t go to the office. “Instead, I visit at least four outlets across the city. It is important to meet our partners and by partners I mean our staff—every Starbucks employee is given a single share, a symbolic gesture to show that the company also belongs to them. We want our people to know they each play a crucial role in the business and are valued. Every morning I have a cup of coffee at our outlet at Exchange Tower, where the firm has its headquarters because it gives me an opportunity to talk to the baristas,” she says.
Starbucks is becoming better known for its efforts to tackle environmental issues—introducing thermos flasks and other recyclable materials—and earlier this year launched reusable hot and cold cups to reduce its environmental footprint further and encourage sustainability. “We’ll continue to work with all related parties to find sustainable solutions and we will encourage our customers to choose reusability whenever possible,” the executive explains.
Nednapa is also enthusiastic about the local CSR projects undertaken by the company. “Every year, for example, we have an outing through which Starbucks employees and baristas can sign up to visit hill tribe villages and meet coffee producers. It’s great because not only can our people see and understand the coffee cultivation process from its roots, they can also form bonds with the farmers.” The initiative has also spawned other activities, including a series of Starbucks Coffee workshops for which interested customers can book a place and learn about coffee making.
Married to businessman Ruchira Srisamai and the mother of two children now young adults, Nednapa gets away from the rigours of running a large business by losing herself in quaint activities that reflect her calm and kind disposition. “I love collecting stamps and miniature figurines and I do cross-stitch,” she laughs. “Now that I think about it, I really enjoy crafts and hobbies that require time and patience.” But then, comparing herself to a cold-foam espresso that is full of surprises, she admits that driving is another passion and, time allowing, she loves taking long road trips. Energetic and bursting with enthusiasm, she has plenty of mileage in the tank yet.
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