CEO the Year 2021: Best CEO in Food & Beverage Industry

Prasit Boondoungprasert

Chief Executive Officer Charoen Pokphand Food Public Company Limited

Practice makes perfect in its most practical sense

CPF’s CEO aspiration of a global food company

As the leader of one of Thailand’s most famous brands, Prasit Boondoungprasert, Chief Executive Officer of Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company Limited (CPF), believes Thai food companies can become global leaders.

“Thailand has a positive image and good brand position, which in turn supports the already popular Thai food industry,” he said. “Thai cuisine is internationally recognised as being among the premium segments, alongside Japanese food, and I firmly believe that with strong backing it can serve as the country’s main income source.”

CPF offers a wide range of food products, including chicken, pork, shrimp, fish, eggs and duck, currently generating around 500,000 million baht in revenue. The company’s distribution network spreads over 50 countries across the globe.

“My ambition is that one day we will achieve one trillion baht revenue without compromising on quality,” said Mr. Prasit, who was recently awarded Best CEO in Food & Beverage Industry in the Bangkok Post CEO of the Year Awards 2021.

That is far from just a pipe dream, given his work ethic and principles behind the doors of his office. His ambitious dream is plausible because of his practicality.

“Ideas are only worthwhile once they are actualized,” Mr. Prasit stated, firmly. “We have to put them into practice, learn the results, and shape them for the better. We just need constant improvement in what we’re doing.

“For example, taste is definitely the heart of the food industry. But how can we create exciting new flavours? We need to take everything into account, from the places animals live and their well-being to manufacturing safety and standards, as well as sustainability, energy consumption, and environmental impacts. With so many factors in play, it is impossible to stop learning and improving.”

As such, Mr. Prasit describes his working style simply: “My decision making is very straightforward—does it add more value? If what we embark on is going to make something better, be it for consumers, suppliers, employees, or stakeholders, then let’s do it.”

This philosophy also applies to how he formulates strategies for CPF: “I think trying to look very far ahead does not serve businesses much anymore because the world is changing so rapidly. Organisations must be able to adapt and transform just as rapidly.”

“To illustrate, scaling used to be very effective for food manufacturing companies. But in the Digital Age, CPF cannot rely on scale and strategic locations alone to enhance our competitive advantages. We need technology that reduces human contact with animals, to reduce possible spread of diseases. Technology also helps us collect enough data to make full automation possible. We have to move fast; faster than our rivals.”

Mr. Prasit believes his dream will be materialized if CPF becomes a true learning organization.

“Improvements require learning. We should delegate some authority to our staff. Let them learn and incentivize them to learn new things so that we can move faster. We also provide a platform to express appreciation because recognition is important for everyone. Based on the experience I have accumulated in my career, I believe the best investment is to strengthen our team. I believe in cultivating talents by guiding them and supporting them to succeed faster. A true leader is the one who understands that success is tied to the work of the collective"

During the spread of Covid-19, CPF provided additional welfare benefits to over 50,000 employees across all of the company’s plants and offices in Thailand and committed to comprehensive vaccination rollout among staff.

With his down-to-earth practicality, Mr. Prasit concluded by sharing another key to his success as a CEO: “When I move from one position to the other, I always make sure that I have the right successor who can take over my job. And if my successor does it better than me, that will make me proud.”

“Our success today has not derived only from our policies but also our staff, who are core engines of the company – Under his leadership, CPF has won several awards and was ranked Thailand’s best employer according to the Forbes’ World’s Best Employer 2020.”