It may not be the Oval Office, but this newly elected president will settle for the imperial view from his office on the 19th floor in downtown Bangkok. Yet, only a week after being named as the new president of the Danish-Thai Chamber of Commerce (DTCC), Leo Alexandersen’s view of the Sukhumvit skyline is not nearly as notable as the outlook of challenges mounting in his professional horizon.
Following five years of unprecedented success for the chamber, it is now up to him to maintain the momentum created by his praised predecessor, Tom Sorensen.
“I feel really good about taking over something that is working well. But I cannot rest on Tom’s achievements. The chamber has reached a level now, which must be kept. I must admit, it is quite a pressure to lead on this legacy. It gives me butterflies in my stomach to think about the job ahead, but I think it is healthy to know that a big effort is expected of me,” says Leo Alexandersen.
However, the 58 year old Danish businessman has no intensions of letting the pressure get the best of him. In fact, he feels confident that his more than 20 years of experience with business in Bangkok and Thailand makes him perfectly qualified for the job. Since 1970, he has held managing positions in more than half a dozen companies in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Bangkok, however, has been his base throughout the majority of his career.
“My in-depth knowledge of the market conditions in Thailand and my many years of experience working with and for voluntary organizations no doubt make me well-equipped to lead DTCC. I know from my two years as Chairman of the Scandinavian Society Siam and from being on boards in other organizations that you need to motivate people in a different way. I won’t walk through the doors and start handing out ‘black and white’ orders in a technocratic, non-negotiable way. I see myself more as a coach than a manager,” says Leo Alexandersen.
But why does a busy man like Leo Alexandersen want to further cramp his calendar in the coming years by taking on the presidency of the DTCC?
“It may sound pretentious, but for me it’s about giving something back. That’s my philosophy in life. Ever since I was quite young, I have spent a lot of time on voluntary activities. I have always been good at time management, so it won’t be a problem for me to add these new tasks to my current schedule,” he says, referring to his daily job as Client Services Director for Pacific Orientation – a company run by him and his Thai wife, Eid. Their company is dedicated to helping incoming expatriates get settled in by finding homes, schools for their children, and other logistical necessities. Leo and Eid’s own two children have grown up years ago, and are both currently working in London.
When Leo Alexandersen isn’t working – which occasionally happens – his preferred avenue for socializing is sports and other competitive activities, such as the board game Balut. As a member of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, he especially enjoys playing badminton at least twice a week or going away on weekend golf trips.
“I still play badminton with some of the same guys that I have been playing with since 1971. I love to compete, and yet it is also a way for me to relax at the same time,” he says with a spark of that competitive excitement appearing in his eyes.
“I might have to give up a few Thursday night badminton practices in the future, though,” Leo laughs, referring to the chamber’s monthly networking events – a tradition, which he intends to carry on from his predecessor.
A Few Changes on the Way
But what will the new president be doing differently? With the amount of memberships increasing and a new full-time administrative staff that has added a highly professional touch to the chamber, Leo Alexandersen is about to turn the chamber up-side-down.
“The interest in DTCC has never been bigger than right now, especially among our many new members. Now that we have our very own secretariat, I think that capacity can be utilized even better. In the past, the president has been involved hands-on in almost everything that goes on in the chamber, but the new full-time staff has a very crucial role to play. Serving our members is the number one priority, and we all share that responsibility,” he says.
Leo Alexandersen states that he intends to put a great deal of emphasis on the marketing of the chamber in order to secure its continued success. But in his first few months as president, a high priority for him is the personal contact rounds to all the members of the chamber in the weeks to come. No one will get a chance to miss that a new president has reported for duty.