Dr. Suriya Lertwattanapongchai enjoys nothing more than a good challenge; specifically, pushing himself both physically and mentally. Incredibly driven, Suriya isn’t content with just working out and being fit. Instead, he is unabashed when he admits, “I still want to break a record. I can’t break a record with speed or strength anymore, so I do it with duration or distance.”
The 49-year-old recently completed his first 2 km swim. “It may be too little for some, but it was a great feeling for me,” he says. “Last year, I did a 100 km bicycle race. I will try for a 200 km bicycle race this year.”
This determination to push himself past comfort zones extends to his work life, as well. The managing director of BMGI Thailand, Suriya admits that he’s “100 percent technically oriented. I have an engineering background and I just love to apply tools and techniques.”
Yet his career also demanded interacting with people. Viewing this as yet another challenge, Suriya used his impressive self-discipline and work ethic to bridge this gap. He credits BMGI’s change leadership program with “turning things around.”
“It’s been a huge accomplishment, this transformation of myself from being 100 percent technically oriented to becoming well balanced between the technical and people sides of things,” he says.
Suriya applies these skills with organizations throughout Thailand and Southeast Asia, working in oil and gas, electronics, automotive, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, banking, insurance, healthcare, telecom, food and more. His horizontal range of industry experience is so wide that he describes it as being “from bank to barge.”
“Vertically, I work across all levels in a client’s organization—from CEO and steering committees to ensure effective deployment plan and structure—all the way down to belts and mentoring Lean Six Sigma (LSS) projects,” he says. “I spend a great amount of time talking to different levels to make sure they have the same vision, see the real value, and understand the roles of LSS tools and techniques in the deployment.”
This ability to communicate effectively with clients is perfectly balanced with Suriya’s ability to look at any problem with the eyes of an engineer. This two-pronged approach has benefited many companies in need.
“For example, during a cash project for a bank, I helped break down the institution’s issues to mechanical failures within ATMs, instigated a faster cash cycle with a Lean approach, and optimized the cash level in a network of 5,000 ATMs and 800 retail branches, resulting in USD $100 million of savings annually,” Suriya explains.
Overcoming this particular challenge delighted the customer and reinvigorated Suriya’s love of a good challenge. Both personally and professionally, there’s no doubt that Suriya can’t wait to top his own already impressive achievements.
Dr. Suriya Lertwattanapongchai was one of the first practitioners to introduce Lean and Six Sigma in Thailand. A Master Black Belt and Lean Master, he’s been influential in thought leadership in Southeast Asia, frequently presenting and authoring articles, translating textbooks and training materials, and training and mentoring hundreds of project teams. Suriya has an electrical engineering degree from Kasetsart University, an MBA from Thammasat University, Bangkok, and a post doctorate from Thammasat University, where he researched the effects of the change process on Six Sigma.