CEO the Year 2021: Best CEO in Strategic Agility

Suphajee Suthumpun

Group Chief Executive Officer of Dusit International

Key Achievements

Suphajee Suthumpun is the Group CEO of Thailand’s prestigious hospitality company Dusit International. She embraces the vision of showcasing exceptional Thai hospitality to the world and currently oversees more than 300 hotels and resorts in 14 countries.

Taken the helm in 2016 without any prior experience in the sector, Mrs Suphajee has led the company to its greatest financial success and expansion. She formulated a new path where sustainability, the graciousness of Thai hospitality, and changing travellers’ demands intersect. As a result, the hospitality giant has doubled the number of hotel rooms in its operations, balanced the company’s portfolio, and diversified its lines of business with solid investments.

Under her leadership in 2019, Dusit International made a strategic decision to demolish the iconic modernist Dusit Thani hotel for redevelopment. The original hotel was the first five-star hotel in Bangkok, and Thailand’s tallest building when it first opened in 1970.

Mrs Suphajee forged a partnership with Central Pattana to develop Dusit Central Park — a 4.6-billion-baht mixed-use development comprising a hotel, a residential building, an office building and a shopping complex in the bustling Silom area. A construction project of such a size, which is set to transform the heart of Bangkok when complete in 2023, far exceeds Dusit International’s entire valuation.

Nonetheless, it came to fruition through Mrs Suphajee’s undeterred willpower and vision.

The CEO has been recognised for transforming Dusit International into a vibrant and relevant brand. She was named 2019 Regional Champion at the prestigious Asean Entrepreneur Awards in South Korea.

As for the company, it has consistently received numerous accolades such as the Outstanding Investor Relations Award in 2020, and Board of The Year in 2019, from the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

Prior to working in the hospitality field, Mrs Suphajee led Thailand’s satellite operator Thaicom without any relevant experience in the sector. As a smart opportunist and strategist, she gained great respect from others by taking the company out of the red and back into profitability, after years of losses, during her first quarter on the board.

Mrs Suphajee also served at multinational technology and consulting corporation IBM for over two decades before joining Thaicom. At the age of 38, she was the youngest Thai general manager in IBM’s history. She also served as vice-president of general business at IBM Asean — the highest position ever held by a Thai at the company.

This was preceded by a one-year stint in New York City where she assisted IBM chairman Samuel J Palmisano and honed her skills in management, decision-making, and strategic planning.

The 55-year-old executive holds an MBA in International Finance and Accounting from Northrop University in California and a B.S. in Sociology and Anthropology from Thammasat University, Thailand. She is also a certified executive coach, having trained at the renowned Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute.

“Under her leadership in 2019, Dusit International made a strategic decision to demolish the iconic modernist Dusit Thani hotel for redevelopment, which came to fruition through Mrs Suphajee’s undaunted willpower and vision.”