“To bring good things to life” are the words that Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul lives by.
The former Minister of Sports and Tourism received her education in architectural design. However, she’s pursued the business side of things, following in her parent’s footsteps. They started Toshiba Thailand Co. Ltd via a joint venture in the last 1960s.
One day I received a call from the prime minister, whether or not I could help the country. That was the main thing that helped me decide
Kobkarn went on the become the Chairperson of Toshiba Thailand. But little did she know, her career path would one day entail serving as government minister - a challenge that she took up for three years.
Kobkarn was openly candid about her unexpected career path, having little or no knowledge about tourism and sports. Her decision to serve the country resulted from a phone call from current prime minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha.
“One day I received a call from the prime minister, (he asked) whether or not I could help the country. That was the main thing that helped me decide,” says Kobkarn.
Enduring the pressure of the prime minister’s faith in her, Kobkarn was determined to learn the ropes as a minister. Applying her background from running a private sector as well as incorporating the people’s perspective.
Kobkarn is a woman who is driven by the teachings of her parents where integrity is placed very highly in her family and in running the business- a trait, which she believes, was the reason why she was picked to head the sports and tourism ministry.
“My parents are quite well known in our society - the way we work, the way we do our businesses, the way we lead our lives. Our families are led by integrity and doing our best for the people and for our country.”
Kobkarn shares the two lessons she’d learnt making use of her experience in the corporate world with serving the government in public life.
The private and government sector is governed by the same principles, which is to do what’s best for the sake of the people and the country
“The difference in business is, you make decisions. Once you’re the leader, once you are the top management, of course you listen to your people but at the end you have the final word on your decision depending on the issue.”
“On the political side, we’d have to deal with so many ministries, rules and regulations concerning the people. There’s a lot of process and steps that we need to go through and it’s different in terms of the work process,” says Kobkarn.
However, Kobkarn expresses how the private and government sector is governed by the same principles, which is to do what’s best for the sake of the people and the country; especially with tourism and sports - to bring out the best of Thailand.
“In business we used to think that we know everything, but no. There’s so many other angles that we don’t know,” states Kobkarn. Humbled by her pursuit to learn and do more for her country, the awareness in other lines of work should be valued. "Our innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, dreamers and makers of things, all play a very important role in reshaping the country."
An optimistic character, she is dedicated to do more for her country especially for the younger generation. “I would say I’m in the stage of empowering the young generation, I call them the seeds of change,” says Kobkarn.
There’s no way of knowing what new possibilities and challenges will emerge for Thailand in the coming years, but Kobkarn is confident that the future is bright. She strives for the inclination to dream big and an insistence on making those dreams come true.
“It’s a life long commitment, it will never end but because someone in the past has done it and now I’m doing my part and the young generation is going to carry that forward,” says Kobkarn. Enthusiastically restless, Kobkarn is constantly searching for the bigger and better and solution for the people of her country.
Now, having returned back to the private sector after a three year stint in government, Kobkarn is far from slowing down. She’s focusing her energy into doing much more by building a team of the younger generation to help lay a better foundation for Thailand. A true patriot; Kobkarn is full of hope on what the future holds for her country.
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