Graciela, Perrin, and Shannon–three members of our full-time team–had the opportunity to attend the Women in Leadership Vision for Impact Event in Bangkok on February 26. It was an enlightening luncheon held at the Erawan Hyatt in Bangkok, with many valuable moments and learnings to take forward.
We connected with other women in leadership positions, based in Thailand and shared stories with individuals who are making a positive impact. There were around 300 attendees who filled the large room with powerful conversations of advice, empowerment, and connection as we shared a plant-based lunch. Check out this burger, strikingly similar in looks and taste to real beef, but fully plant-based!
Dr. Sarah Taylor, the Ambassador of Canada for Thailand, introduced the formal session, which followed the lunch and networking session. She made a few important opening statements to set the tone of the afternoon: “you can’t be what you can’t see” and “when women around the world succeed, so does the global economy” were two that resonated with us. We have a focus within our organization on global citizenship and are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We seek to exchange and share these narratives with others to help us connect and improve the ways we work with the communities we serve, so we were delighted that the formal session opened on a note we felt deeply connected with.
Throughout the event, we heard from three keynote speakers and a young activist. Their names were Lena Ng, Nopparat Aumpa (Kai), Pranapda Phornprapha, and Raylyn Saridtanasarn ‘Lily.’ Each had a different voice and perspective, but they were all united in their successes as females in leadership positions.
Lena Ng, the Chief Investment Officer at Amata, shared that she wanted to inspire others and help change their lives for the better. She recognized that the process of growth is not without challenge or pain and that one goes through many transformational experiences throughout their growth journey.
Kai, the General Manager of Banyan Tree, stated: “challenges are opportunities to get to know yourself on another level.” She managed to find success, though there were many obstacles and presumed ‘barriers’ of entry. Hospitality came naturally to her and her ability to focus on her values and passion brought her to where she is today. “You just have to have passion for what you’re doing” and “if you have a good attitude, you can have anything.”
Pranapda Phornprapha, director of family-owned Siam Motors and founder of Dragonfly360, questioned the audience regarding being a “feminist”. “Who here is a feminist?” Out of an attending audience of 300 people, a small handful of people raised their hands, which seems counterintuitive given the name and nature of the networking event. This contradiction led to Pranapda’s next point of discussion regarding how feminism carries a visual brand that doesn’t reflect the actual definition. “I’m not hairy, I don’t hate men, I am not a lesbian. I am a feminist. I believe in equal rights for men and women.” She further expressed, “Women stop catering to men, be comfortable with yourself. Lift yourself and other women up.”
Ralyn “Lilly” Satidtanasarn presented on 6 projects that she’s initiated in Thailand. These projects include: banning single-use plastics, providing green guidelines for restaurants, eco-education, encouraging material companies to go green, a push for renewable energy, and reforestation efforts. She shared a sentiment that she didn’t really have an option to be a leader. It didn’t matter if she was male or female, she cared about her future and did not let her gender get in the way of it. We were lucky enough to snap a picture with her, following the event.
After their presentations, the three keynote speakers and Lily got on stage for a Question and Answer session, which covered a variety of topics. Some of the points they touched on involved family, cultural heritage, work/life balance, and what they consider most important in life. During this session, Lena shared, “The most important person to you, is the person you are giving your focus to.” In a world where it is so easy to be distracted, her message was an important reminder to all in the room to give our focus to the present moment and the people in it.
Throughout the event, the need for organizations to support and develop the youth was also highlighted. Pranapda noted, “Not only is the future feminine, the future is the youth.” It was revitalizing to hear this statement. JUMP! Foundation is aligned with these realizations, visioning goals, and necessary for our global development. Thank you, CANCHAM Thailand, for providing a valuable day of personal and professional development.