In 2016, when Thailand’s Central Group hired Nicolò Galante, a two-decade McKinsey veteran, it was an admission that its digital dreams were floundering. In the preceding three years—ever since Tos Chirathivat, the forward-looking grandson of the group’s founder, took over as CEO—digital transformation had been a priority. Central, the family-led retail giant that’s one Southeast Asia’s largest conglomerates, was acutely aware of the rise of e-commerce, and its own risk of obsolescence.
Galante arrived as Central Group COO and head of online. A year later, Galante was elevated to Central Retail CEO, and hired Axel Winter, a German executive previously with Standard Chartered Bank and Accenture, as CTO.