Working with Happiness in Thailand
Her email signature is a little unusual: Ratchanee T. The head of WACKER in Thailand does have quite a long surname – Theerathummanukul – but that’s not the reason for the abbreviation. Instead, in Thailand, it is customary for people to address each other on first name terms, even in business. It is uncomplicated and friendly – and reflects the country at large, explains the slim woman with brown, shoulder-length hair.
The WACKER Thailand team celebrates the New Year: (from left to right) Chayang Chinpinkliew, Kotchabhorn Boonthrapong, Pholchai Pongsitichok, Linda Chaichamnapai, Sunsanee Dumrongkittikul, Ratchanee Theerathummanukul and Chamaiporn Prasertsung.
“In Bangkok people are good-humored and helpful. Everyone smiles at you,” says the chemical engineer, who started at WACKER in Bangkok in 2006. Today, she is country manager there. Her motto? “Working with happiness.”
Her team is made up of five women including herself, and two men. Almost everyone works in sales. They often visit customers, coming into the bright, approximately 100-square-meter office about every other day. The business district of Pathum Wan where the sales office and a number of consulate buildings including the US Embassy are located, is very business central.
A metropolis with about ten million inhabitants, Bangkok is Thailand’s political and commercial hub. Almost all customers from the construction and personal care sectors have offices in the capital. This is an advantage for employees in the office since they are just a short distance from their customers, although there are worlds between the Thai and the German definition of “short.” In Bangkok it means a journey of anything from one to three hours due to the excessive amounts of traffic on the roads. It is no wonder then, that Ratchanee’s answer to the question “What was better in the past than today?” is: “Fresh air.” And what does she hope will be better than today in a hundred years’ time? “The public transport network.” Today, she needs at least an hour – by car, to complete the 25-kilometer journey to work.
Presents are an important part of the New Year festivities in Thailand. The WACKER team (from left): Chayang Chinpinkliew, Sunsanee Dumrongkittikul, Linda Chaichamnapai, Chamaiporn Prasertsung, Ratchanee Theerathummanukul, Pholchai Pongsitichok and Kotchabhorn Boonthrapong.
The WACKER Thailand team enjoy going out for lunch together and sometimes choose to go to a Japanese restaurant. In Thailand, Sushi and Sashimi make a popular change from the local cuisine, which includes spicy soups like Tom Yam and noodle dishes like Phat Thai. You can also find these dishes in Germany but they taste completely different, according to Ratchanee, who has visited Munich and Burghausen several times in the past. Why? Because many spices are only available locally in Thailand. “You’ll just have to come to Bangkok and try,” she says.
As country manager she regularly travels to WACKER’s regional headquarters in Singapore. The inter-regional team meets once or twice a year, in a different country each time. Although their languages are so different from each other that Thais use English to communicate with Vietnamese, Ratchanee still feels that in terms of culture, Asians have a lot in common. She cites as examples the deep-rooted respect toward older people and treating people with courtesy, as well as the the high value given to personal relations, even in one’s professional life. “It’s extremely important not to offend the person you’re talking to,” she explains.