Peerapong Jutaganoon, better known as Om, completed his education from the US and joined Thai Airways straight after. Jutaganoon is now an expert in the aviation industry having served Thai Airways for 23 years.
He currently holds the position of General Manager of Thai Airways for Nepal and Bhutan. Prior to his tenure in the Himalayan nation, Jutaganoon was stationed as General Manager for the airline company in Chengdu, China.
Avant Shrestha interviewed Jutaganoon to gain insight into his experience as a leader and what shapes his thoughts on leadership. Excerpts:
How would you describe your style of leadership?
The simple definition of leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving the same goal. I would say, I always have a good ability to influence, motivate others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organisation. I believe to lead people, one has to not only master the art of assertiveness but also kindness. They both have to be in balance.
What are some of the characteristics that all leaders should possess?
I give focus to honesty and integrity because these characteristics drive people to fully trust with their hearts. People, especially those under your command, may not always agree with what a leader has to say; but if those messages are communicated honestly, the subordinates will surely appreciate knowing the truth. Plus, people naturally tend to consent with the leaders who are really truthful rather than fake.
How do you help employees understand the ‘Thai Airways’ culture?
We have a clear process for new employees to understand and follow our organisation culture through many methods such as orientation, shared documents, assign a mentor to new employees, together with training course. Moreover, our management teams here in Nepal are all Thai. Besides me, the Airport Service Manager, Account Manager and also engineering team are all expats. All these people work towards making the new recruits understand the nature of TG culture and help them grow as professionals. Myself and the entire TG family believe in teamwork so it is more of a joint effort to integrate a new employee into our team.
Who do you look up to as a mentor or an inspiration?
My dad has always inspired me. He never worked in an airline industry. In fact, he held an honorable position in the agriculture department of the Thai government. Nonetheless, in my opinion he was the perfect embodiment of what a good leader should be. His working methods impressed me since I was young. He always gave an impression of a very kind person because he treated ever member of the staff with kindness. This left an impression on me; so, today I also treat my staff and my colleagues with kindness.
What is the biggest challenge a leader in an airline industry is facing today?
You might be aware of the fact that airline business today is a fierce business. Currently, this industry faces high competition, so we have to operate in a fast pace with good teamwork. As a leader you have to be able to work and guide your staff and colleagues all in the same direction with the same goal. An individual alone cannot do anything successfully, so your team must have strong mentality. Thai Airways has been in Nepal for 50 years; a long history, to say the least. With teamwork and result-oriented attitude, we believe that we can continue our legacy to deliver our premium service to all the Nepali people.
What are you doing to ensure to continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I never stop learning. I like taking every step and every day in life as an opportunity to learn new things and this viewpoint helps me to be the best version of myself. I love reading and listening to people and other leaders. Observing their knowledge and experiences certainly helps me develop my thinking skills and helps me continue to grow in several ways. Lastly, I think the most negative thing for all leaders is when they think they are the best at their job and stop learning new things. No matter who you are and what age you are, your personal development never stops.
What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?
I personally give value to teamwork, focus on customers, and empowering people. Why teamwork? Because I believe one cannot be a leader without a team and having a great team would help make our organisation successful. This is the same reason why I try to empower people to work with passion and if they are dancing at work, then I’ll consider that I am doing a good job. Lastly, we are in a service business and our customers are the main focus. Thai Airways promotes the Thai hospitality services and this is a widely recognised concept here in Nepal too.
Whose leadership skills inspire you?
As a Thai citizen, my inspirational leader is our belated King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Even after his passing, his instructions still remain applicable. One of his instructions I like the most is about ‘Gratitude’; to feel grateful toward those who support you unconditionally. Another one is ‘Grit’ which basically means to never give up and never stop fighting no matter how hard the situation gets. Our late King was known for his grit and gratitude and these aspects are something that I try to implement in my professional life.