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We must concentrate on moving forward: Preeyanart Soontornwata

From its inception, Thailand-based energy company B.Grimm Power has been working to support the community; doing business with compassion has been a core strand of the organisation’s DNA for over 140 years. “‘Empowering the world compassionately’ is our motto,” CEO Preeyanart Soontornwata says.

“We support education and research for society. We also have numerous programs to support the poor and disabled. We’ve been doing this for a very long time, and our efforts continue to increase.”

Preeyanart Soontornwata CEO of B.GRIMM POWER
Preeyanart Soontornwata, CEO of B.GRIMM POWER

Engaging the community is no small feat for a multinational corporation; but for one whose mission it is to bring happiness to everyone, the job is second nature. B.Grimm organises meetings, information gatherings and public debates throughout the year.

The company awards scholarships, renovates school libraries, arranges activities for religious and cultural events, and the staff even donate blood. Its goal is to “live harmoniously with our neighbours, to communicate with them, and to help out wherever we can.”

The first step in building a new power plant, Preeyanart says, is to involve the community. The result? In the 20 years under her leadership, B.Grimm has never had the problem of protests or complaints.

After graduating from Chulalongkorn University with a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance, and an MBA, Preeyanart worked first as an auditor and then as a finance and administration manager, before joining B.Grimm in 1992. In 1997, Thailand, along with numerous other East Asian countries, was hit with the worst financial crisis it had seen.

Preeyanart had recently assumed the position of President and CFO, and she managed to keep the company afloat in a sea of turmoil. She says it was a difficult time and while businesses were collapsing all over the country, she had to change its approach in order to survive.

“It changed my perspective on business. I had to make tough decisions. Thousands of companies went bankrupt, and hundreds of thousands of employees lost their jobs,” she explains. B.Grimm, however, managed to not lay off any employees. “We focused our attention on doing business with compassion; otherwise, we wouldn’t have received support from our stakeholders. They needed to trust us.”

Now, B.Grimm Power is a multinational conglomerate with an average annual growth of 22%. Formerly an import business, it is one of the first private companies to enter the energy sector.

Preeyanart says her most significant achievement is the company’s initial public offering on the stock market. She was recently honoured by the President of the Stock Exchange of Thailand for adopting sustainability in the company’s operations to provide secure, long-term investment returns for shareholders. “It is considered to have good yield, and stable, sustainable growth,” she beams. “I believe it will continue to stay that way.”

Preeyanart Soontornwata CEO of B.GRIMM POWER

A “pioneering spirit” is the driving force behind the company’s success. This spirit, along with positivity, partnership and professionalism, is its anchor through the ever-changing nature of society. While technology adapts, so does B.Grimm. “We must concentrate on moving forward,” she asserts.

“We stay flexible; we must be open to compromise, and willing to change, to keep our employees loyal and our customers satisfied.”

The company is moving forward indeed. Its total installed capacity is currently 2,076 megawatts and, with new projects already underway, this number is already expected to rise to 3,297 megawatts by 2022, edging towards its target to reach 5,000 megawatts across the ASEAN region by 2022.

One of the largest private energy companies in Thailand, B.Grimm operates 41 power plants across Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

The company has plans to invest more than THB100 billion (approximately A$4.2 billion) in power plant projects both domestically and internationally over the next five years.

It is now developing a solar power plant with a 420-megawatt installed capacity in Vietnam, which will be the largest solar plant in South-East Asia.

To ensure its operations are environmentally sustainable, the company collaborates with its customers to save energy. It “tightly controls” and reduces its emissions, waste and noise levels, and conducts comprehensive inspections around its power plants and surrounding communities.

“We are aiming for sustainable growth. We are a renewable energy company and have been conserving the environment from the beginning. We want to further only this technology throughout Asia,” she says.

Within the company, Preeyanart aims to see long-term commitment from her employees. She says an open office culture is essential to cultivating what she calls a ‘brotherhood’. She focuses on hiring not only the brightest but those with the right attitude suitable to the close-knit environment at B.Grimm.

The company spends a lot of money training its people, so the employees can better cope with change and be prepared for leadership roles. “We do this so that people remain loyal, especially the younger generations,” she notes. “We must understand how they think because our people are indispensable. We do as much as we can to keep them around.”

B.Grimm is comprised of a diverse group of employees; both Thai and foreigners, managers and engineers, women and men from all backgrounds and religions. Fairness and being open-minded are Preeyanart’s priorities as a leader. She believes this approach helps her employees feel like they belong.

Preeyanart Soontornwata CEO of B.GRIMM POWER

She highlights the importance of teamwork: “I want to foster a team spirit so that people will feel fulfilled working here. I don’t want people to work here for money or a certain position, but because they love their jobs and feel like a fundamental part of our company.”

In the end, for Preeyanart, the success of her achievements is her reward. She enjoys working with her colleagues to reach common goals. “I feel happy when I have met a difficult target,” she says. “This feeling is especially strong when the company meets a target together.”

As a team, it has achieved a great deal. B.Grimm was awarded Best IPO in Thailand 2017 by The Asset, Best IPO Deal in South-East Asia in 2017 by Alpha Southeast Asia, Best Energy Solutions Provider by International Finance, and Deal of the Year by the Thai Bond Market Association.

Though it is deemed an old company, having existed for 140 years, it does what it can to stay young. “The biggest shareholder of the company told us we are successful because we are always developing,” says Preeyanart. As it continues to thrive, it is determined to keep up with the market’s progression since adaptation is necessary for any company to survive.

“We must never stop evolving,” she states. “Every business must stay young to stay relevant.”

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