Smiling with anger

Khun Chumsai has resigned!

Khun is an honorific before a Thai name.

Chumsai is the Thailand based  “key account manager” for a German based multinational which supplies software for urban traffic control safely.

Reggie Pennington, a Brit who heads Thai, Malaysia and Singapore areas, called me in Tel Aviv and asked me to come to Bangkok as soon as possible to help do damage control and bring Chumsai back from the brink. Reggie is totally dependent upon Chumsai to complete the sales cycle of the new product in major Thai municipalities, which has being going on for 2 years.

Reggie told me that Chumsai has now accepted a job at the very client where he served as key account manager. Reggie  said that he was totally surprised. Chumsai had appeared to be working as usual and had no complaints whatsoever. “He was always smiling”.

Allon booked a week trip to Bangkok and had many  meetings during which he learned about issues contributing Chumsai’s desire to leave. These are exact quotes.

1-Khun Reggie has no time for small talk. So he must really care only about the business and not about the people.

2-When we work late, Reggie never asks us out for a drink after we finish work, he tells us to go home and spend time with our families.

3-Khun Reggie invited Khun Tom, the product expert from corporate HQ, to meet with the client. We planned the meeting in a taxi on the way to the client, so I understand I was being marginalized.

4-At the client meeting, Khun Tom spoke too loudly when the client raised concerns, saying that he was “convinced” that the roll out of the new product would be “seamless”. That caused me huge embarrassment since it was very arrogant; I fear that I will look bad in the local market.

5-After the meeting we debriefed, again in a taxi. “They talked so fast that I could not contribute.  My role as their “yellow face” is over”, and he smiled with anger.

I did not think it was possible to stop Chumsai from leaving. Reggie asked me if “a huge stay bonus may solve the problem”.

Reggie was not an easy client.


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2 thoughts on “Smiling with anger

  1. It is amazing the assumptions we make based on our values. For example from a western context, I would have thought Reggie to be a considerate boss by acknowledging the familiar and insisting that Pine go home quickly but in this circumstance each of Regigie’s gestures were construed as dismissal and not being valued.

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