Sea CEO expands horizons
Disruption is the digital world’s moment of truth. It terminates everything unable to adapt to the new reality and constitutes the key driver in business, particularly online-related ventures, going forward.
Digital platforms benefit consumers in terms of time- and cost-saving while helping merchants expand their business online.
Sea (Thailand) is at the forefront of digital platforms that support many people and local businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to reach customers not only in Thailand but also international markets while sustaining business growth.
Maneerut Anulomsombut, Chief Executive Officer of Sea (Thailand), the local operating unit of the NYSE-listed Tech company Sea, which runs Shopee, has played a crucial role in supporting Thai entrepreneurs expand their channels to foreign markets with ease and convenience through the Shopee International Platform (SIP), which help create export opportunities and reduce global obstacles for local businesses.
Ms Maneerut joined Sea (Thailand) in March 2014 as Chief Operating Officer and was promoted to CEO two years later. With an industrial engineering background at Chulalongkorn University and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, she efficiently synchronises technological advancement with management skills to drive growth and business strategies of Sea (Thailand) while concurrently promoting local businesses.
Founded in Singapore in 2009, Sea has three core businesses covering Garena, an online games developer and publisher; SeaMoney, a provider of digital financial services; as well as Shopee.
Sea (Thailand) recently celebrated its 10th anniversary of operations in the kingdom. Formerly known as “Garena”, the digital gaming business morphed into “SeaMoney” digital finance services, then evolved into “Shopee”, the e-commerce shopping platform collating thousands of small business owners from Thailand and overseas.
The company has cooperated with the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) to upgrade and enhance the potential of Thai entrepreneurs, particularly SMEs, to sell their products online and increase awareness and access of foreign buyers to Thai products.
Thai businesses that participate in the SIP will also receive support from the Shopee in-store management such as overseas stores, product and stock management, chatbot with buyers and shipping abroad without additional fees.
By focusing on technology and innovation, Ms Maneerut can respond to the requirements of a fast-changing economy, customer behaviour and disruptions to drive business growth and maintain sustainability.
The ultimate digital economy transition entails tremendous technology disruption, requiring the emergence of innovative tools and talents to forge a way forward along a wild path.
“Digital literacy is a definitive catalyst for Thailand to bridge the gap in the transformation and propulsion to an unknown destination where risks are challenging but somehow manageable,” Ms Maneerut explains. “Our attempts to experiment with new concepts and ideas have defined our weighty mission and illuminated our path to business growth.”
Thailand’s e-commerce market is one of the fastest growing in Southeast Asia. Gross online merchandise value grew 8% in 2022 and is expected to expand by 13% annually until 2025.
While the digital economy has been emerging over the past few years, the need to address the “gender digital divide” has also increased. Women face more restrictions in terms of access to digital education and entrepreneurship opportunities than men. Driven by the havoc wrought by Covid-19, with the loss of jobs and income, cyber security and personal security became even more concerning for women.
Sea (Thailand) readily adapted to the new normal and continues to respond to constant change. The collaboration with Creative Economy Agency (CEA) to launch “Women Made” created an empowering programme to boost risk-taking female entrepreneurs. Thus, more women are inspired to tackle business challenges in the new digital realm. They now know that through creativity, technology, and innovating their brands, products and business strategies, they can face uncertainties with resilience and perseverance.
From 2019–2022, Sea rolled out Digital Education. Today, it hosts over 8.87 million learners who can access digital skills training and resources through over 100 programmes under the “10 in 10 initiatives” which extend to over 500 educators. Sea Academy is firmly established as a platform consolidating Sea knowledge in relevant business areas and continues to aim to cascade knowledge to the broader public.
“Among the 4Es of staff management, namely, Engagement, Excitement, Empowerment, and Empathy, as a female CEO, listening to staff perspectives and sharing pain points with compassion is supportive,” says Ms Maneerut. “It all helps to drive the organisation forward which, in turn, helps to cultivate Thailand’s digital economy so that it grows strongly and we can all confidently look forward to an increasingly powerful digital ecosystem going forward.”