Program: New York
Intake: January 2007
Current Role: COO, Astra Technology Co., Ltd.
Witsarut has gained his father’s entrepreneurial spirit, now following his footsteps into his company, Astra Technology Co., Ltd. (www.astratech.co.th) Based in Thailand, it specializes in marketing and selling military products and services, especially to the US and the Royal Thai Armed Forces. Witsarut now holds the position of Chief Operating Officer, and shares with us his company’s expansion strategies, lessons he has learned along the way, and the importance of having a positive attitude.
Describe your business and your role within it.
Astra Technology (www.astratech.co.th/about-us) is a Thai company focusing on aerospace and defence. My role as Chief Operating Officer is to take care of overall operation of the company, strategies, and relationships with our customers and suppliers. Our products & services include helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), training simulators, howitzer, electronic warfare, smart weapons and other related systems etc.
How did you get into this line of business?
I’m the second-generation entrepreneur. My father, Dr. Suthep Duangchinda founded the company, Astra Technology. I gradually become part of business by joining in with dinners with several foreign suppliers from when I was a child. In addition, I also had an opportunity to do an internship with a defence company in the USA and to join with the delegation from Thailand to visit a helicopter manufacturer. Thanks to my Mountbatten experience in New York at Citibank and the Cambridge certificate business education, which both gave me international business exposure and prepared me for my career path in the business world!
What’s your company’s growth strategy?
Our strategy is to work on both small projects in order to take care of company expenses and participate in high valued projects parallel to this. Our big step up came when we sold the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Thailand and a fleet of Utility Helicopters to the Thai Military.
What else is in the pipeline?
Currently, we also participate in many aerospace and defence programs in Thailand, such as the new attack helicopter program, the new medium-altitude long-endurance UAV, and to modernize the fighter aircrafts etc. Above all, we do the maintenance for all the systems that we have already sold.
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
We were proud to sell the first UAV in Thailand and the fleet of high-quality combat proven helicopters to the Thai military. In addition, we sell use-of-force training simulators which are widely used in many military/police and other security units in Thailand.
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
Sometimes I have to assign my people into particular jobs. The biggest mistake was when I put the wrong man onto a job, and the job couldn’t be delivered as expected. As a young entrepreneur, I’ve made many mistakes but I’ve always learnt many things from them. The only real mistake is the one from which you learn nothing!
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
I think a positive attitude is one key to success. It might seem simple, but I found that people with a good attitude will attract more people with a similar attitude to the business environment. Winston Churchill also quoted that “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”.