Nuntawan Suwandej: Excels in Reversing the Fortunes of Companies in Retail Space

Top 10 Inspiring Businesswomen to Follow in 2024

Nuntawan Suwandej Do Day Dream

Nuntawan Suwandej has been steering Do Day Dream Public Company Limited toward unprecedented growth as Chief Executive Officer since 2020. Within a year of taking the helm, she reversed the company’s fortunes by leveraging her extensive experience and innovative strategies. Her efforts and exemplary leadership have significantly increased Do Day Dream’s efficiency across all areas, which has led to cost reduction and more profits.

Nuntawan is a veteran of the retail industry, with a career spanning 30 years. She has held leadership positions in several top-tier organizations specializing in retail business, most of which are listed on Thailand’s Stock Exchange. “At these organizations, I focused on business turnaround assignments,” Nuntawan points out. Throughout her career, she has had numerous achievements to her credit. In every organization she has worked, she has successfully restructured its business operation, enabled financial turnaround and people transformation, and reorientated strategies. By doing that, she has ensured long-term, sustainable profitability for the organizations.

“At Do Day Dream too, I remarkably restructured the fundamentals and turned the business around from negative to positive performance within a year,” shares Nuntawan. She has become an inspirational figure and mentor to many in the retail industry primarily because of her optimistic attitude. One of her favorite quotes is: “Respond positively towards peaks and valleys – nothing lasts forever.”

An Orchestra Conductor

As CEO at Do Day Dream, Nuntawan feels like an “ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR.”  She steps onto the metaphorical orchestra stage every day, to serve, according to her. At this stage, she believes in leading by example and devotes a good amount of her time to coaching others. Her primary mission is to inspire people around her, instilling in them the confidence and a sense of joy in being a part of the team. She believes that a “great leader never loses sight or empathy for the people they lead.”

Like a conductor waving a baton to ensure all the musicians are playing in sync, Nuntawan excels in the art of orchestrating the simultaneous performance of multiple functions. She also ensures that all activities are aligned with the same strategic direction while maintaining high-quality contributions from everyone involved to achieve common strategic goals.

Ensuring Strategic Evolution of the Company

Under Nuntawan’s leadership, Do Day Dream continues to evolve. In the initial years, after she joined the company, her efforts were focused on enhancing efficiency and cost reduction. So, one of her first decisions was to produce in-house. She explains that the aim was to increase factory utilization and achieve economies of scale. She took the step to integrate end-to-end supply chain operation with a back-office shared-service center, warehouse and logistics center, single enterprise resource planning system (ERP), reliable single source of cloud-based information, and operation and distribution excellence.

Nuntawan also consolidated various ERP systems and deployed a single ERP system, which leveraged cloud technology for the entire group. This was done to optimize manufacturing capacity, manage warehouse and distribution network consolidation, improve demand forecast accuracy, and drive overall operational efficiency. Additionally, it helped manage and connect important functions of the business such as purchasing, inventory, distribution network, and warehouse logistics into an all-in-one cloud-based platform. This platform, Nuntawan says, is a powerful, scalable, and flexible management tool. It enabled streamlining of processes, which helped the company grow faster.

As CEO, Nuntawan also improved the effectiveness of the supply chain. This enhancement provided a clear view of the supply networks, allowing them to match supply and demand in a much better way, streamline customer and supplier collaboration, better manage production, and automate work processes. These improvements accelerated the time-to-market for new product launches, supported by real-time analytics. Nuntawan explains that the full availability and transparency of every operational aspect offered them comprehensive and reliable data oversight. This not only improved profits and reduced costs – as the operation became more efficient — but also enabled a sustainable growth strategy backed by accurate data.

Furthermore, Nuntawan has also diversified the company’s business. She has done this to balance the business portfolio, achieving significant expansion for over 20 brands targeting skincare, personal care, beauty equipment, sports and wellness, and lifestyle markets. “We now produce more than seven million units per year within Thailand and comprehensively distribute them across Asia including but not limited to China, the Philippines, and the UAE,” Nuntawan points out.

During Nuntawan’s tenure as the CEO, the company has become the first brand to launch various innovative, cutting-edge products in Thailand.

About Do Day Dream

Do Day Dream was established in 2010 as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in the skincare business. In 2013, the company recognized immense growth opportunities in the skincare market and launched its first brand, SNAILWHITE, targeting this sector. “We use snail secretion filtrate as the key active component,” Nuntawan says. SNAILWHITE quickly became a popular brand not only in Thailand but also across Asia, especially China, the Philippines, and the UAE. The company’s other well-known brands include OXECURE, SOS, SPARKLE, LESASHA, and JASON.

The company is also a sole distributor of several international brands especially in the lifestyle category, including but not limited to the Japanese iconic street fashion bag sold under the label MAKAVELIC. Do Day Dream is set to exclusively distribute European brands as well, including but not limited to the Swiss innovative and premium hair equipment sold under the label VALERA and Italian-manufactured hair equipment sold under the label ELCHIM. The company distributes the products of the brands in its portfolio across multiple countries in Southeast Asia through comprehensive, accessible networks of offline and online channels.

“Over the last two decades, the company has focused on high-quality raw materials to bring to the market products that emphasize natural beauty for consumers,” Nuntawan says. She also points out that because of the company’s constant growth momentum and penchant for innovation, it has carved out a significant business landscape for itself as a manufacturer and distributor of popular skincare, personal care, oral care, beauty equipment, sports and wellness, and other lifestyle products

Over the years, in order to develop efficient business fundamentals, the company integrated end-to-end supply chain management by centralizing manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, back-office shared service and ERP system. This integration, along with expanded distribution coverage, supports the sustainable, profitable growth of all the subsidiaries.

Do Day Dream intends to become a holding company, managing a wide array of health, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle businesses portfolio, with comprehensive access to networks of channels in Southeast Asia, according to Nuntawan.

“We have seen many business opportunities during the pandemic, with an increasing demand in lifestyle portfolio,” she points out. “This has resulted in the company quickly moving toward capturing the not-yet-tapped business opportunities. It has also enabled us to operate in a more sustainable way.”

Three Key Factors

Nuntawan has a stellar record as a leader because of three factors. First, she looks at every crisis as opportunities. She explains that a typical retail business has to deal with everyday problems, and a problem sometimes follows a cycle. “Even after it is fixed, we may encounter it again,” she says. When that happens, Nuntawan does not see it as a setback or is upset about it. Rather than feeling disappointed, she focuses on learning from the experience and aims to make the solution better the next time. “The growth mindset is very important,” she says.

Courage is another key characteristic of her leadership. She has the courage to take risks and transform the organization in the right way.  “I dare to disrupt, create, innovate, and look for new opportunities to grow business,” she says. “It is also very important for the leaders to have the courage to lead the team in both good times and difficult times.”

“My courage towards improving business is to ‘BREAK ALL THE BOUNDARIES’, and I work toward ‘CAN DO ATTITUDES’,” Nuntawan adds.

The third factor, according to her, is her belief in teamwork. She strives to put good and right people in the organization to build the business.

Learning from Failures and Roadblocks

Nuntawan’s professional journey has not been easy. It has been strewn with roadblocks. But she has never allowed them to negatively affect her. She firmly believes that challenges and failures have given her the chance to grow both personally and professionally. “Roadblocks in my professional journey offered me new growth opportunities,” she says.

For example, when she encountered roadblocks during the pandemic, she learned to innovate, develop new products, and find new distribution networks, which led to her discovering one of the most sustainable business growth strategies.

Nuntawan also trusts the power of failure. “I can either see it as a setback or use it as a learning experience to know how to better navigate my next endeavor,” she says. She always chooses to do the latter.

And, one of the invaluable lessons that she has learned from challenges is to always maintain a positive and optimistic outlook. “When I focus on maintaining a positive attitude at work, roadblocks can help me demonstrate leadership capabilities, increase productivity level, reduce stress, and motivate others to do their best and accomplish their desired goals,” Nuntawan says. “I also would love to emphasize that ‘EVERY CRISIS BECOMES NEW WINDOWS’.”

Good Team Critical for a Leader’s Success 

Nuntawan is a successful leader in every sense of the word. But she does not give herself the credit for this, as she does not believe in being a lone wolf, characterized by an independent, self-sufficient nature, and a preference for solitude and introspection. According to her, to become a successful leader, one must focus not only on shaping sustainable fundamentals and the right business strategy and expanding business opportunities but also on leading a group of talented people by example. “Leaders must have the courage to lead the team in both good and difficult times and encourage them to ‘BREAK ALL THE BOUNDARIES’,” she says.

At Do Day Dream, Nuntawan is regarded as a successful leader because she established strong fundamentals, grew the bottom line, and increased revenue. However, according to her, these achievements were possible because of her team.

“One of the critical factors for a leader’s success is getting the right people into the organization,” Nuntawan says. “I believe in teamwork and believe that people build the brand and organization, brand doesn’t build people.”

“Everything starts with the right people in the organization, performing the right role and position,” she adds. “It results in remarkable goal achievement, good teamwork with a positive working environment, and promotion of social responsibility and sustainability.”

Bridging the Gap

Nuntawan believes that both women and men deserve equal opportunities to pursue fulfilling careers and lives. She advocates for creating structures in workplaces to help everyone live up to their potential. “I see no difference in having women in leadership roles, which are widely admired worldwide,” she says. She also feels that the next generation would be more aware of the women in leadership.

For Nuntawan, the performance of a leader matters more than their gender. “It is important to think beyond diversity and demonstrate the best potential with a visionary commitment to meaningful development,” Nuntawan points out. “This would require one to LEAD BY EXAMPLE, actively demonstrate excellence, and set new prominent milestones and footprint together, making it enjoyable to be a part of the team.”

However, Nuntawan’s personal goal is to bridge the gender gap. She explains that achieving gender diversity is not just about having a balanced workforce but also promoting the unique strengths and viewpoints that women bring to the table. It is about recognizing and appreciating the authentic value contributed to the workplace, she says. “This would significantly influence organization culture that bridges gaps in growth opportunities and support the professional advancement of women that promote gender diversity in executive roles,” she adds.

Work-Life Balance

Leaders often struggle to maintain a work-life balance. How does Nuntawan maintain that despite her hectic work schedule? She says that she does that by regularly planning ahead and setting coherent boundaries, with clear distinctions between professional and personal time horizons. She prioritizes scheduled time and activities – which means doing the most important tasks on her priority list first.

Nuntawan shares that she also habitually combines work activities with leisure. “For instance, I schedule time for shopping as my leisure while concurrently observing the market as a mystery shopper,” she says.

Advanced technology offers her the advantage of flexibility, as it enables her to effectively manage professional assignments and streamline the workflow, and there is also no disruption because of personal activities. “Remote working would be one of the effective technology tools to promote the flexible working arrangement without the necessity of physical meetings that bridges the working boundary and promotes the balance in life,” Nuntawan says.

She also believes in taking breaks throughout the day. According to her, it encourages good mental health and relieves stress, and after the break, one returns to work with renewed focus and energy. “I also regularly practice breath awareness mediation by paying attention to emotion and physical sensation which helps improve concentration, reduces stress and anxiety, and I experience stillness as well,” Nuntawan says.

Before joining Do Day Dream, she struggled to maintain a work-life balance, although her assignments were easy to handle. At the company, Nuntawan found she could maintain a fulfilling personal life while effectively managing her professional assignments across the entire business.

Message to Aspiring Women Leaders

“Be assertive” is Nuntawan’s advice to aspiring women leaders. She also encourages them to embrace diversity when stepping into leadership roles within organizations. Additionally, her advice includes being sincere and committed as leaders.

As someone who values “living by one’s own standards,” Nuntawan emphasizes the importance of “freedom” in her message to aspiring women leaders.