DIRECTORS AND EMBASSY OFFICIALS
Committee Mission Statement
To represent and promote mutual business interests between both Thai and South African businesses of our membership in Thailand and to further increase awareness of potential trade and investment opportunities between the two countries. In addition to the commercial aspects listed above, the Chamber is also interested in furthering social and cultural understanding between the different nationalities represented in the Chamber. These people are dedicated to ensuring SATCC fulfills its Mission in Thailand.
Neil van Heerden
Chair of the South African-Thai Chamber of Commerce (SATCC)
Neil van Heerden is a global business executive with expertise in leadership, strategy formulation & execution, sales and business development. He is an avid technology & business transformation enthusiast and holds an Executive MBA in Corporate Strategy from London Business School (2004) and a Post-graduate Diploma in Economics from the University of London (1999).
Neil’s international career and experience spans several industries including mining, financial and professional services, fintech, payments, and IT services. He has worked in Europe for over 12 years and has been in Asia for 14 years – he is fluent in English, German, Dutch, and Afrikaans.
Neil is currently an IoT Technology Consultant at PCS Facilities Management- Thailand, driving their IoT-technology strategy and digital transformation efforts.
Vice Chairman – Eastern Seaboard
Ragil Ratnam: M.Soc.Sci (Clinical Psychology)
Vice-Chairman – Bangkok
Head of Business Development: Sasin Business School
Visiting Faculty: Sasin Business School; Asian Institute of Technology
Founder & MD: Pure Growth Asia
Orchestrator & Educator: Duke CE Advisor: Board of Trade of Thailand
CORE FOCUS AREAS:
Empathic Leadership | Strategy and Implementation | Negotiation Innovation | Leading Change | Purpose and Authenticity
Ragil Ratnam trained as a Clinical Psychologist and has worked in a variety of senior corporate talent and leadership development roles in South Africa, the USA and the UK, before setting up his own leadership advisory practice in Thailand. He provides Executive Coaching to C-Suite leaders and designs and delivers leadership development solutions for global clients in a range of industries including Pharma, FMCG and Banking, as well as International Organizations such as UNICEF and The World Bank Group. For UNICEF he has run Performance Management workshops in 8 countries. He has deep cross-cultural experience and expertise, having led programs in many countries including Thailand, The Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, France, South Africa and the US.
He is the Managing Director for Pure Growth Asia, a Leadership Development and Advisory firm, which has been working with local and international clients for over a decade.
Ragil is also the Head of Business Development for Executive Education at Sasin Business School and teaches MBA courses in Strategy and Negotiation. He is a former President of the SATCC and former Advisor to the Board of Trade of Thailand.
Tasha Ponelis has over 15 years of experience in directing a broad range of financial planning, financial strategy and analysis operations, including developing annual operating strategy, long-range planning and financial management across a range of industries, including mining, manufacturing and construction.
Tasha graduated with a B.Compt Accounting Honours, and after completing articles, qualified as a Chartered Accountant.
Tasha has deep knowledge across a broad range of disciplines including the design and implementation of ERP’s including SAP and Hyperion, mergers and acquisitions, operational improvement and corporate structuring. In addition to her accounting and financial management experience, Tasha held various interim CFO positions assisting distressed companies with the financial complexities of restructuring and turnaround.
Tasha is currently a partner at Taylor HS Limited heading of the financial management division.
Director – International Business
Member Company: Roxland International Co. Ltd.
Rakesh’s personal experience in dealing with South Africa dates back to around 1986 before even the South African embassy in Thailand was established. He was also on the committee of Indian Thai Chamber of Commerce Between 1998-1999 as joint secretary and director to Joint Foreign Chambers coordinating Committee in Thailand. His company, Roxland is now established in Thailand for 5 years but prior to that he was a director in Harrytex (Thailand) Co., Ltd for the past 20 Years, with his main focus and role being to build relationships with South African Clientele for exports of products out of Thailand to South Africa. Rakesh has been member of the SATCC Board for the past year and has provided a good perspective on business and trade between Thailand and South Africa from his own personal experience, and provided ideas and contributions on how to build better trading relationship between South Africa and Thailand. He is a strong supporter of the SATCC and values the way it organizes small and big events to keep the South African community in close touch. Rakesh’s experience in trade between South Africa and Thailand helps him in building business ties going forward.
Member Company: United Thai Shipping Corporation Limited
Responsible for Conventional vessel and service, running a fleet of 3 huge conventional vessels, each vessel calling at Thailand and Durban Port, S.A. and vice-versa, carrying commodities such as rice, tapioca starch and construction beam, exporting to South Africa. Born in 1967, Khun Danupong was brought up bilingually, speaking Chinese and Thai. After school, he studied in Dublin, Ireland and graduated in Business Administration, He has also completed a Major Degree in Business Management from Bangkok University. Upon returning to Thailand, he worked for UN-ESCAP Headquarters in Bangkok in 1990, and then moved on to one of the top-10 Japanese trading companies in Bangkok. This was followed by a job with a leading Thai rice exporting company. After that, he moved to his family business (SME) in the field of imported small household appliances, mainly from Germany, Italy, and France Khun Danupong is enthusiastic, flexible, sociable, and continues to serve the SATCC interests as he has previously done as Director.
Founder at Everyone Ventures, a venture capital company for Everyone. We are building a new world of venture where ‘everyone’ has access to the most exclusive asset class in the world
Innovation Coach (Global) and Champion (APAC) within Alstom (the worlds largest transportation company). I build and manage a portfolio of startups to achieve an Roi of x6 within a multinational corporation.
Investment Committee at AngelSchool. a syndicate backed by 1000LPs investing in SaaS companies and deploying +-2mUSD per annum
Director – Memberships
Business Development Manager
Red Wolf Global Co., Ltd.
David Hitchcock is a seasoned professional in the logistics / freight forwarding industry with over fifteen years of experience in sales, business development, freight management and leadership. He has a strong background in air freight, transportation, and operations management, and has been responsible for the development of several successful projects.
In addition to his professional experience, David is also proficient in English and Thai and has a strong understanding of the Southeast Asia market. With his extensive knowledge and experience in the perishable freight industry, David is an asset to any logistics company.
He is the Business Development Manager for Red Wolf Global Co., Ltd. Thailand, working with local and international clients for over six years.
Karel Benjamin De Lange (Kallie)
Director – Events
Founder and CEO: Marvel Beverage and Events Co., Ltd
Karel has over 25 years experience in business development.
After studying Law at the University of Pretoria, he became an officer and instructor in the SA army, finishing as a Law officer with the Army Battle School at Lohatla in the Northern Cape.
After serving his compulsory military service he went into the housing development business, and successfully developed one of the first South African RDP housing projects, of 180 houses, at Kalbaskraal in the Western Cape in South Africa, a proud legacy of his.
Having experienced construction business he moved to Mozambique which was an underdeveloped economy with a fast growing RDP. He launched Marvel Enterprises which is involved in numerous road building and infrastructure projects all over Mozambique and has contracts for earth moving machines and trucks in the ports of Matola and Maputo in Mozambique.
He also took on the development of a sugar farm in Macia province of Mozambique in this time.
In 2018 he was presented the opportunity to become a KWV business partner in Indochina, which appealed to him because of his Thai family roots.
Karel brings a wealth of experience to an exciting new Thai start up business.
Director – Young Professionals
Graham Macdonald MBE
Honary Advisor & Past Chairman
Managing Director – Aegis International Ltd (start date: January 2016)
Director – Macallan Insurance Brokers Ltd. (start date: January 2016)
Senior Adviser – PKF International (start date: April 2018)
Chairman – The Cairn Advisory (start date: June 2020)
Honorary Adviser to South African embassy in Bangkok (start date: December 2016)
Honorary Adviser to Rugby School Thailand (start date: January 2017)
Business – Past
Plant manager – Pioneer Concrete (UK) Ltd: 1983-1985
Sales Manager – Shire Group: 1985-1989
UK Sales Manager – Rentokil OMM: 1989-1994
MD of MBMG Group – co-founder: 1995-2016
Vice Chairman of ‘World of Wine’ (company gave all profits to charitable causes): 2004-2014
Regional Business Adviser – MitonOptimal Group: 2016-2017
Chambers of Commerce + South African Embassy
Founding Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) – Eastern Seaboard in 1997
Served as a Director on the main BCCT Board: 1998-2012
Vice Chairman of BCCT: 2005-2010
BCCT Chairman in 2010. Re-elected in January 2011 and retired in 2012
Chairman of BCCT Charity Group: 2009-2012
Director of Board of Trade of Thailand: 2011-2015; 2020-
Chairman of South African Thai Chamber of Commerce (SATCC) – first person to be head of two foreign chambers: 2012-2016; 2020-
Appointed as Honorary Adviser to BCCT and SATCC in November 2016
Honorary Consul Designate for Republic of South Africa to the Eastern Seaboard of Thailand (2016 – 2020)
A writer for various newspapers, magazines and journals based in Thailand
Regular appearances on local and national television:1997-2016
Nominated for the Lorenzo Natali Prize for journalism. This award was created by the EU in 1992 and is for, “Excellence in reporting on human rights and democracy in the developing world”
President of ‘Care for Kids’: 1998-2010
Secretary of The Lighthouse Club – Eastern Seaboard: 2006-2007
President of the Royal British Legion (RBL) Thailand which also helps the Thai Veterans Assoc. and their local hospitals: 2009 – 2017
Committee member of BCTFN – a.k.a. Ploenchit Fair charity organisation: 2012-2014. Re-appointed January 2017 – 2019
Appointed as Honorary Adviser to English for All – founded by Korn Chatikanavij, Finance Minister for Thailand 2008-2011, to expand the teaching of English in Thai schools: 2016 – present
Born in Birmingham, England on 25th June 1959
Educated at Repton School and graduated from University of Bradford
Awarded MBE, by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, in New Year’s Honours list 2012, “for services to British business interests in Thailand”
Conferred with the inaugural ‘International Personality of the Year’ award, in 2016, by International Investment Magazine
In 2018, received the highest award bestowed by the RBL, the Gold Badge, which is given for “meritorious and conspicuous service”
Recreation: Chairman of Pattaya Cricket Club. A supporter of Pattaya Panthers Rugby Club, this follows from being a member of both
Wasps and Moseley Rugby Clubs when in the UK. Other interests – History, Literature, Classical Music, Travel and Movies
EMBASSY EX-OFFICIO MEMBERS
Ms Thobeka Dlamini
Counsellor Political/ Deputy Head of Mission
- South African Embassy in Thailand, Bangkok
Current Position: Counsellor Political/Deputy Head of Mission Duration: April 2021- Current
- South African Embassy in Guinea, Conakry
Position: Counsellor Political/Deputy Head of Mission Duration: July 2018- March 2021
- South African Embassy in Senegal, Dakar
Position: Counsellor Political/Deputy Head of Mission Duration: March 2014- June 2016
- South African Embassy in Ireland, Dublin
Position: Counsellor Political/Deputy Head of Mission Duration: July 2012- February 2014
Other Government Experience
Dec 2005- Sept 2008 – Deputy Director: Provincial Local Liaison (Government Communication and Information System)
Oct.2008- Feb2011 – Deputy Director Strategic Communication (Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO))
Sep. 2011- June 2012 – Deputy Director Foreign Services- responsible for Angola and Namibia Political Desk (DIRCO)
July 2016-June2018 – Deputy Director Foreign Services- responsible for Burundi and Rwanda Political Desk (DIRCO)
- Bachelor of Social Science Degree (Media and Communications) University of Natal, South Africa (2002)
- MA (Development Communication) University of Pretoria, South Africa (2009)
- National Diploma in Diplomacy (2011) Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
- PhD (Development Studies) Current University of Pretoria, South Africa
Policy for the Chamber is developed and directed by an elected committee, headed by a Chairman and two Vice Chairs. Following the election of the Board of Directors in October of each year, portfolios of responsibility are assigned to certain directors. These are based on the measures considered necessary for the achievement of the Chamber’s strategic goals and may vary from year to year, depending on the perceived need to change emphasis or implement improvement measures.
Their areas of responsibility are:
- Trade and Embassy Coordination
- Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce Thailand (JFCCT)
- Board of Trade Representative
- Jabulani Social Group
- Business Group
- Community Group
- Events Group
- TMT Group
- Women’s Group
- Young Professionals