A CEO Who Worked His Way Through the Ranks of a Family Firm to Lead From the Front

Thai Life Insurance Chief Executive Officer Chai Chaiyawan started his career in 1982 in the most basic way: learning the ropes.

Thai Life Insurance CEO: Chai Chaiyawan

Thai Life Insurance CEO: Chai Chaiyawan

He began by overseeing human resources, accounting, administration, branch management, and supervision of sales agents. He was later made assistant chief of investment and appointed Thai Life president in 2004. He ascended to the chief executive’s post in 2021.

Under Chai’s direction, the company has strived for — and earned — global recognition. In all areas of growth, including working methodology, brand creation, and human resource development, Chai has proved to be a visionary leader.

Thai Life has become the national leader in the life insurance sector. Chai Chaiyawan is something of a spiritual guide and thought leader for his staff, inspiring and empowering them in their careers.

Chai’s management style is a fusion of East and West. He manages the company in an Oriental manner that emphasises loving-kindness, compassion, empathy, and serenity. He also operates in a Western manner, drawing on professional cultures that have a focus on business models, KPIs (key performance indicators) and OKRs (objectives and key results) to measure performance.

“We use Eastern philosophy, Buddhism, and Chinese or Japanese philosophy while managing people,” he says. Personnel are content and are not forced to work under any stress. “KPI is similar to job improvement — it encourages employees to enjoy pushing themselves,” Chai believes.

The Chief Executive Officer focuses on sustainable growth by setting the brand purpose: to be “a leading brand that is admired and inspired by everyone in society”. For business purposes, he aims to provide all the answers for life insurance, health insurance, and personal financial planning for life’s every stage and rhythm, as well as catering for diverse lifestyles and needs.

He achieves this by continuing to value human, value-driven-centricity. People are an essential factor in driving any business, Chai believes, and says that the most worthwhile part of an entrepreneur’s life is to ensure better quality of life for employees and their families. The most rewarding thing for Chai is seeing his organisation achieve sustainable growth, strengthening society and creating social value.

Chai Chaiyawan was born in 1957 and graduated with a HND in Business Studies from the West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education in Swansea, UK. He also holds a BA in Business Administration from Richmond University, UK, and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy (Business Administration) from Maejo University, Thailand.

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