ROLE MODEL – Inspiring Story of Women in STEM in Asia Pacific


Khun Korn is a STEM entrepreneur from Thailand who began as a pioneer in digitization solutions for corporate clients. Together with her husband, she founded Alpha Intersystem Co.,Ltd to provide digital services. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in the Peace Studies Department at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, where she is also studying human rights with the aim of applying Dhamma principles to modern society for enhanced understanding. She aims to contribute to the creation of a peaceful society, and extends her gratitude to the UN for its significant role in promoting human rights.

Can you share with us a little about your background?

I completed my Bachelor’s degree at Naresuan University in Pitsanulok Province. I got married, and now I'm living in Nonthaburi Province. My husband works as a computer engineer and owns a business in electronic filing, document management solutions, and invoice processing.

Did you have a role model in shaping your career? Research shows that role models are key to increasing share of women in STEM fields. What do you think?

Madam Pang Nuanphan Lamsam is a woman who possesses both talent and beauty. She serves as an executive at Muang Thai Life Assurance Company, leading the business through challenges such as the 2004 tsunami, the 2011 floods, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Beyond her role at Muang Thai, Madam Pang manages various aspects of the business, including private enterprises driven by personal preferences, such as importing various brand names. Notably, she holds leadership positions in football and directs many other businesses. Successfully overseeing a diverse array of enterprises demands knowledge, ingenuity, and comprehensive management skills. Her tenacity is admirable, evident in her handling of football management, a distinct venture from her previous endeavors. Madam Pang stands as another formidable woman in the business landscape of Thailand, leaving a significant mark on various fronts.

Tell us about your path to your career?

I hail from Uttaradit Province, embracing my roots as a country girl who completed her grade 12 education at Nampad Chanupatham School, where I actively engaged as a school activist. Taking advantage of the lower northern region's quota, I successfully secured admission to Naresuan University in Phitsanulok Province—only two students from our school achieved this milestone, and I was proud to be one of them, bringing honor to both my family and our school.

Venturing away from my hometown for the first time, I resided in the university dormitory, navigating the unfamiliarity that came with being away from home. My university days were marked by diverse activities, including participation in Thai musical performances, traditional dances, and serving as a proud member of the university cheerleading team.

Post-graduation, I sought opportunities in Bangkok and embarked on my professional journey at Isonet Co., Ltd. The company specializes in the sale of Microsoft software, offering comprehensive Microsoft training courses and serving as an esteemed examination center for Microsoft Thailand. During this period, the widespread adoption of Microsoft programs was rapidly gaining momentum, and I felt privileged to be a part of this dynamic industry.

I used to hold an administrative position in the training department, which was managed by an Australian woman. As the work progressed well, I was promoted to assistant manager during a period when the business was thriving. At that time, our clientele consisted of leading companies in Thailand, with managers and heads of computer departments seeking training services. The training department gained a stellar reputation for the company during this flourishing period.

What were some of the challenges you have faced in your career? What do you do to confront those challenges and stay the course?

The economic downturn hit while I was working with Isonet Co., Ltd., and my husband, who worked at Kodak (Thailand), faced a job loss. This prompted a discussion between us about starting our own company, focusing on providing computer systems advice and embracing the digital future, where every document and paper would be digitized.

We were fortunate to secure a project from the Department of Business Development, and I resigned from my previous position to dedicate my time to running the company full-time. Despite having to learn various aspects of running a business, including areas like accounting where I had no prior knowledge, managing a considerable number of employees, and engaging with government organizations as clients, it brought me happiness as I got to oversee both the front and back of the company.

Working in this field comes with its challenges, especially with diverse corporate clients. Therefore, coordination is deemed crucial. I vividly recall accepting a project from an organization that had reservations about outsourcing tasks, preferring to handle everything internally. However, many scanning and data recording tasks necessitate a professional team for quality results within a short timeframe. This client had specific requirements, such as guidelines for handling documents outside the company and potential consequences if documents were lost. Despite the complexity, our team showcased its potential, delivering the completed work within two weeks. When we went to deliver the work, the director personally received it, expressing satisfaction with a wide smile and giving both of us a thumbs up. Behind the scenes, my husband and I worked tirelessly, checking and rechecking due to the intricate process and vast amount of information to manage. We shared the compliments we received with the entire team.

Every job and project is unique, ranging from challenging to straightforward. It feels like we are working on a national level, engaging with institutions such as the National Library, hospitals, educational establishments, and various departments and ministries.

What is it like to be one of few women in your office? How do you persevere? What kind of support do you seek?

While there is only one female executive in the office, we are fortunate to have a capable and trustworthy manager. The manager oversees the entire office staff and collaborates closely with me and the team to ensure everything is well-organized. Despite juggling multiple projects simultaneously, our effective coordination allowed us to handle them seamlessly.

What do you like about your job?

The work we've accomplished has created value for numerous organizations. Our customers can integrate various pieces of information into their work, yielding results and enhancing overall work efficiency. I take pride in being a part of our customers' success, recognizing that their work has a positive impact not only on the public but also on the country.

What do you think needs to happen to enable more women to go into STEM careers in your country? (education reform, company practices, government support for women entrepreneurs, reform of unpaid care policies etc.) What is the best way to try to change cultural norms around women in STEM and in leadership positions?

The success of this endeavor relies on the collaboration of all parties involved. In alignment with government policies, it is imperative for every organization to work collectively in exploring methods and various practices. It is essential to consider the long-term results, recognizing that change must occur gradually to continually raise awareness. Each organization undertaking this work must be resilient, striving for optimal results in each period. We believe that each person and organization possesses the best proposal or method. However, gaining acceptance across all sectors and establishing guidelines may require substantial effort. Yet, if everyone shares the same goal but employs different methods, we can select and apply one method, fostering collaboration to maximize benefits and participation. Although differences may exist, our focus remains on finding common ground.

Have you experienced gender-based discrimination at work? If so, what happened?

I have never experienced gender-based discrimination at work because our organization functions as a close-knit community, resembling a family. Nevertheless, my conduct at work is fair and equal toward all team members. I work alongside a younger colleague who identifies as gay, and we treat each other with the same respect as we would with any sibling.

Was it hard to get a job in your field? If so, why?

It's not difficult at all, based on my experiences. The majority of clients or organizations that I work with have women in key roles, either as directors, or executives. Display confidence and showcase your expertise. Allow them to feel your talent on a personal level. Give yourself the chance to explore new things and face fresh challenges. When you possess a strong life force, it tends to attract what you desire. Believe in yourself and cultivate self-love.

Have you found a good work-life balance as a STEM professional? In your opinion, is work-life balance perceived as an obstacle for women who might want to pursue a STEM career?

Finding balance in life is a choice and a creation. Without goals in each area of your life, it will become unbalanced. I suggest exploring the six areas of life and assign a score to each. This will help identify the areas that need attention or further care.

Achieving happiness at work begins with finding contentment within yourself first, as it allows your energy and abilities to flow, making you shine.

Where do you think your country sits in comparison to others in gender equality in STEM?

Nowadays, there is greater acceptance and more opportunities, providing increased freedom. This progress should be considered at a moderate level when compared with other countries.

What is your advice to women still unsure of whether STEM is for them? What is your advice to women who feel excluded at work or at university?

What's most important is loving yourself and recognizing your own worth, viewing everything as equal without judgment. Regardless of how others communicate or express themselves, it is important to know ourselves, understand our abilities, and identify our intentions—whether for personal growth or contributing to an organization's success, ultimately adding value to our country.

Discover things that inspire you, no matter how small, and with consistent practice and mastery, they can become sources of joy and fulfillment. Loving yourself involves caring for your entire well-being— maintaining a healthy body, cultivating a strong mind, and fostering a generous heart capable of forgiveness, offering opportunities, and providing assistance wherever possible. When self-love is abundant, it radiates to those around us, reaching our families, communities, and society.

Recognizing the beauty within ourselves may take time for some people, but it's crucial to persevere and maintain belief in oneself.