CEO the Year 2021: Best CEO in Digital Enabler

Somchai Lertsutiwong

Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Info Service Public Company Limited (AIS)

Key Achievements

Somchai Lertsutiwong became chief executive of the country’s biggest mobile operator Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS) in 2010, and since then has been determined to turn the telecom company into a digital life service provider.

He is a leader who wants to apply technology and innovation to transform the company and support social and community development.

Mr Somchai's ambition is to see Thailand develop its technology sphere to be on a par with global standards. All the company’s operations have been conducted in a framework of good ethics and governance throughout his 23 years at AIS.

Through his leadership, AIS is not only an expert in mobile business but also works to develop itself and meet the needs of customers.

Apart from mobile services, which continue to be augmented, investment has been pumped into fixed broadband and various digital services.

Mr Somchai also focuses on developing the company’s human resources as a key priority, as past successes cannot guarantee the future.

He has dedicated himself to human resource development by reskilling employees with new expertise in different kinds of business.

AIS has also formed partnerships in every industrial sector to improve the Thai public’s quality of life and enhance the Thai business sector’s potential.

Three core philosophies guide his work and personal life: “Work hard, be honest, and develop yourself.”

Under the leadership of Mr Somchai, AIS’s operations have been successful in three key areas.

The first involves digital infrastructure expansion. AIS holds the most spectrum, currently totalling 1420 megahertz.

AIS also has the most subscribers, numbering over 43.2 million as of June 2021, a 46% market share. Signal coverage extends to 98% of the population. It was the first mobile company to expand its 5G network into all 77 provinces, and now has more than 1 million fifth-generation users.

AIS’s fibre high-speed home internet began in 2015, and was the first such service to use the latest technology, covering all 77 provinces, with a maximum bandwidth of 1 Gbps and over 1.54 million users.

Its digital services offer a full suite of experiences for digital lifestyles, on top of basic infrastructure such as mobile phone and high-speed home internet.

The second area involves sustainable development.

Mr Somchai has given priority to business operations grounded in a concept of sustainability, and in particular bringing digital infrastructure to support sustainability for everyone.

There are several programmes achieved through sustainable development such as AIS Aunjai Cyber, aimed at raising cyber awareness and immunity and promoting smart digital skills through online lessons to young people.

Additionally, the company's “Thais say no to e-Waste” programme is aimed at instilling awareness and inviting the Thai public to help conserve the environment by disposing of electronic waste according to international standards.

With such dedications, AIS has been selected and ranked in both national and international indices of sustainability.

These rankings include the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, both World Index and Emerging Market Index for 2020 in the Telecom sector, for two consecutive years. AIS has also been awarded the Sustainability Awards Silver Class 2021 FTSE4Good Emerging Index, for the sixth consecutive year.

Finally, AIS has put a great deal of effort into helping society during the pandemic.

Mr Somchai has been leveraging the potential of technology and telecom systems under the concept “Connecting and Assisting Thai people”. The company has supported the public health frontline and has helped Thai people in dealing with the pandemic in three ways: assisting society by supporting communications networks; assisting customers and partners; and assisting employees.

For example, AIS supports communications networks for hospitals and field hospitals which are treating Covid-19 patients in 110 locations across the country. It develops features on the Aor Sor Mor online app as a tool for village health volunteers to screen and monitor the Covid-19 risk groups in the community.

“Mr. Somchai has given priority to business operations grounded in a concept of sustainability, and in particular bringing digital infrastructure to support sustainability for everyone.”