Last night we had our first large Central Tech ALUMNI meetup, with many of the day 1 team members joining! I missed everyone all. It is like a family reunion – just better! A journey from Feb 2017 (when I have been given the opportunity to start the Central Technology Organization) until early 2021.
Now, many of us are ‘bosses’ in our right, at companies such as LINE, Siam Cement Group, Agoda, True, Amazon . com, Siam Piwat, Central Group, Krungsri, Kasikorn Bank, Caresome, and many more. We are becoming the “CTO Mafia” now.
All of us got the same questions every day a few times, how did we transform Central Group so fast – almost the only firm in the region, be it Asean or Europe, that has changed from the ground up in lighting speed, with significant commercial success!
The difference to any other firm, talking about transformation is, that they are hiring the same old consultants/tech firms, or they hire smart people, but never empower them, whereas the CEO is the micro-manager-in-chief. Yet they manage the PR. Don’t be fooled.
Our team owned the P&L, and skill, and was the engine for transformation, with strong Business Partners. It is not perfect and it never will, transformation never ends, it’s ongoing – that is exactly the point! All the consultants who plan X Year journeys and investment cycles, totally miss the criticality of a never-ending journey.
In 2017 the top 5 execs, incl me, with experts from respective teams, defined Strategy, Target Operating Model, Architecture, Culture, HR, Finance, and Capability (hiring the right people) for Business and Technology. I helped design the Business organization (and Vice Versa), which ‘my’ team would eventually work with.
We covered topics like Product Management, end-to-end program management, data science, data analytics, UX, campaign management, recommendations, engineering, COO for strategic projects, Human Resources, Employee Branding & Events, Innovation Lab (with AWS; the first in the region), Finance Management, and many more.
I had the ability to tailor HR and Finance to our delivery model! Plus speedy decision-making and the “guts” to make tough calls Saturday at 1 am, to keep the engine going. I super appreciate the trust and opportunity given to do just that.
Product centric, with simple yet powerful architecture models, cloud, open-source, little vendor, and zero advisory support, but plenty of investment into best skills. Not 100 Steve Jobs (they’d kill each other trying to get into the building), but a great team with skills, responsibility for the KPI down to the secretaries, and yet nimble and willing to learn every day and adjust from mistakes. I learned a lot and had a tremendous growth journey, as everyone had.
Our Tech and Product resources came from Lazada, Google, Amazon.com, aCommerce, Ascend, ThoughtWorks, and adopting our strong culture and strategy, applying their skills. We exchanged with peers from Walmart, Macy’s, Amazon, AWS, Next Play, and so many more.
We all had the toughest time and yet the most fun, 24×7’ish for 4 years, addictive! The global best practice for building a Corporate Startup, which surely is at least a double unicorn by now – as per the 2021 Central Retail Corporation Annual Report to shareholders, Omni Channel represents 20% of the business.
The next chapter is here for us all. Change is a good thing, yet I still miss 36 hours of weekends to bring new digital business alive – and we brought ~15 of these to live.
Plug for SiamPiwat: The Piman Terrace is a private event space at ICON Siam 8th Floor and can be booked!
Plug for my firm: Pivot Digital can help you to create that transformation ecosystem and momentum, too!