A man with many hats, Dr. Santhi Kanoktanaporn is an industry veteran with over 40 years of hands-on experience in driving productivity enhancement initiatives and strategic international development programs. He also has vast experience ranging from product quality control, to environment and waste management consultancy, to the telecom and petrochemical sectors. Dr. Santhi took office as the 11th Secretary-General of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) on 16 September 2016 after being unanimously elected at the 58th Governing Body Meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in April 2016.
Dr. Santhi holds a PhD in Chemistry from Sunderland Polytechnic in the UK and a Master’s in Management from Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration. He is the author of several academic research papers and has translated two books, Power and Love and Transformative Scenario Planning by Adam Kahane.
As the Secretary-General, he is guiding a series of changes to transform the APO Secretariat into an organization that enables member countries to meet the current and future challenges of a technology-driven, fast-changing global environment. Dr. Santhi initiated a Secretariat-wide strategic planning exercise using scenario planning management tools to review its organizational goals and to revisit the national development plans of member countries. The result was a comprehensive three-year plan focusing on strategic areas to help member economies reach the goals of the APO Roadmap to Achieve Vision 2020.
Under his leadership, the Secretariat also set up a team to build strategic foresight capability and launched the APO Strategic Future Platform, which is an AI-enabled online tool for environment scanning of global trends. The initiative complements the new concept of Sustainable Productivity with the objective of enabling member economies to prepare for and succeed in the future economy.
As part of its renewed focus, the APO under the guidance of Dr. Santhi is focusing on the use of technology to improve productivity. The program planning approach was therefore realigned to focus on smart agriculture, smart industry (including Industry 4.0), smart services, and smart public sectors.
Dr. Santhi also led a major change in the organization’s approach to program delivery by adopting a “mobile-first” strategy. An example is the eAPO initiative to promote massive online open courses and mobile training for a significant increase in the rate at which productivity knowledge and technologies can be diffused to SMEs and individual professionals. This is part of the Secretary-General’s digital makeover of the Secretariat, which includes the “less-paper” initiative to reduce its carbon footprint.
Before taking his post at the APO Secretariat, Dr. Santhi served as the Executive Director of the Thailand Productivity Institute (FTPI) where he was responsible for developing the master plan (2016–2020) for improving productivity in the country for the Ministry of Industry. He also initiated a major restructuring of the FTPI to make it a truly national institution for driving the productivity movement with the aim of transforming it from an implementing agency to the national strategist for productivity. Dr. Santhi is credited with expanding FTPI productivity initiatives through local and international networks for the exchange of data, knowledge, and experience, as well as encouraging organizations in the industry, service, and government sectors to adopt the management excellence guidelines of the Thailand Quality Award for self-assessment and continuous improvement for sustainable development.
Early in his career, Dr. Santhi served as the President of the Foundation for Industrial Development for the Management System Certification Institute (Thailand), a not-for-profit foundation under the supervision of the Ministry of Industry, where he was responsible for increasing national competitiveness through standardization and development of personal competency in the public and private sectors to meet international standards. He successfully developed the first Thai management system standard, TISI 9999: Sufficiency Economy Guideline for Industry. Other roles included Chairman of the CB Association of Thailand, Country Manager (Thailand) of the US Chamber of Commerce, and Managing Director of Sysmen Company Limited.