Growing up outside Washington, D.C., Somsak Chivavibul got a job working at a golf course, where he sold and collected range balls at the driving range. The experience taught him two important lessons.
First, he discovered how to run a small business operation. Second, working at a golf course exposed him to many successful people.
One of those people was a certified public accountant who owned his own accounting firm. Somsak leveraged that relationship to a part-time job at the accounting firm during college.
Since those days, Somsak became a CPA himself and eventually became Navient’s first chief financial officer.
Today, as Chief Decision Management Officer, Somsak focuses on leveraging the company’s data assets, infrastructure and talent to provide insights to enhance business strategy, performance and value for customers and shareholders.
Somsak was 9 years old when his parents, who worked for the Thai embassy, moved to the United States for a four-year assignment. They liked the education system so much that they decided to stay so their three children could go to school here.
His father had an accounting background, and a high school class encouraged Somsak to pursue the field in college. He is, he says, a "logical and analytical thinker."
"My parents were both hard workers; they instilled that work ethic in me, and it's helped me throughout my career."
After graduating from University of Maryland in 1988, Somsak worked at Ernst & Young before transitioning to a new job at Sallie Mae in 1992 in the financial planning and analysis group.
"As an accountant, I was always looking at historical financial information and this new position allowed me to anticipate the future—what is going to happen instead of what happened," says Somsak. "That aspect of the job really appealed to me."
Change was a constant theme, and Somsak was involved with many significant developments from the privatization of Sallie Mae from its government-sponsored enterprise status to the 2014 spin-off of Navient. In the process, Somsak developed extensive experience in business and transaction modeling, corporate and portfolio acquisitions, financial analysis and management reporting. From 2014 to 2017, Somsak served as Navient’s CFO.
In his new role, which began in March 2017, Somsak is harnessing the power of data to answer key questions that can optimize success for our customers and the company.
When he's not spending time with his wife and daughter, he still relishes time on the golf course, either savoring the peaceful landscape by himself or spending time with friends. "You choose the environment," he says.
In both his professional and personal life, he enjoys bringing different personalities together to work as a team.
"You get everyone on the same page. At Navient, every day is different. There are today's challenges and tomorrow's challenges."