Earth has been born and raised in Thailand, but his dreams were not restricted to his country of birth. He took the leap and explored the professional world in both the technical setup as a sales strategy and operations manager and in the consulting world as an engagement manager. Very early on Earth realized that career is not a few months thing that you do and get over with. It is a lifelong journey and therefore must be decided and thought through. Particular to note are the things that excite you and that you naturally associate with. Earth is also passionate about coaching since it has been very useful in his professional life and is happy to share his take on life, and choosing a profession in this episode of People’s Stories.
According to the internet, an average person can spend 1/3 of their lifetime at work, which is why being fulfilled and being associated with your work is really important. It’s not a three-month sprint that you can finish and get over it is a lifelong journey. Ideally, your work should reflect your personality, it should define you, and you should be able to be yourself at your workplace. Today, there are many opportunities, various weed carriers, which did not exist a decade ago, or jobs where you can have the freedom to be who you are. What it takes to find such a fit is exploring your options, and exploring them early on doing your homework. Let’s listen to the story of a gentleman who hails from Thailand, moved to Paris and around the world to explore what life has to offer him.
Hello, people. Welcome to people’s stories. Thank you so much for tuning in. I’m your host, Priyanka OTA. And I hope you enjoyed the session.
Hey, guys, welcome. Welcome again. Thank you so much for Stay tuned. In the fall we jump into the episode if in case you guys are interested to know about more career opportunities, about what people exactly do I just behind the scenes of people’s stories, feel free to follow us on Instagram or just send me a Connect invite on LinkedIn. Hey, everyone, welcome. Welcome to another episode of people’s stories. Thank you so much for tuning in. Today, we have Earth wattana. Right. In the studio with us. I’m extremely humbled and pleased to have you here. Thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you, Priyanka. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Pleasure is all mine. So before we dive into anything, anything else, I want to understand the history behind your name? First of all, it’s a very, very difficult name coming from me myself, when I’m used to names like these. How do people in France or in your offices manage it?
Great question, because most people don’t even try to pronounce it at all.
Okay, and what’s the history behind it?
So Earth is a given nickname, by my mother, everyone in Thailand is given a nickname at birth. And we usually use our nickname for, you know, colleagues, family and friends, and informal situation, the same way in the Western culture, which is their first name. And we only go by our official first name similar to in the Western culture, where they would go by their last name like Mr. misters. Okay. Okay. So would you have another name your family would call you by?
They would call me Earth. But if I go to an official office, like governmental office, or the hospital in Thailand, they would call me worry time, just my official first name. Ah, okay. Okay.
So I want to give a small introduction about before he can give his own introduction. So ERD has been working as a senior Engagement Manager at McKinsey in Paris right now, before this, he has worked with Google. And he’s also a career coach, which is, I think, a passion project that Earth has. So
now the stage is all yours. So what do you want to tell about yourself?
Yes, like as Priyanka said, I’m been with McKinsey for four years now currently, based in Paris, and I do
work across different industries, right now focusing a lot of my work at the intersection of digital topics and marketing and sales. So really help companies think about how they transform and and how they take their marketing and sales and their commercial topics to the next level. And maybe taking a few steps back. You know, like, like, like you mentioned, I’m also very passionate about being a career coach or doing side projects. And my experience at Google. Actually, a lot of students reach out to me from my alma mater or via LinkedIn asking, you know, why did you switch between tech and consulting? Which one should they start? So maybe I can share a little bit about, you know, how I made my decision, and also, perhaps some food for thought for for younger folks out there or considering these path. That sounds like a very interesting journey Earth and I did
Definitely want to dive a little more deeper into understanding the whole professional side of, of your, let’s say studies, your higher education, or what you are doing exactly in your in your work right now or what was the previous experience as well. But before before getting into all of those questions, I also want to know a little more about you. So what do you do apart from work?
Yeah, so I love spending time outdoors and spending time with friends. So any kind of outdoor activities like hiking, surfing,
you know, I enjoy cooking a lot as well learning different cuisines and learning different languages and cultures. So I’ve actually spent some time in Italy and learning Italian also in Spain, Spanish and now in France. Yeah, so I did see that you have learned a lot of languages. I think you specialize in like five languages right now. Right? I wouldn’t say specialized. But
I can speak a little bit. I definitely want to understand what’s your How do you do it? So I am learning German, right, right now and learning a language is like very, very difficult for me. It’s and I’m just struggling with it. So do you have any advice on how to learn languages better? Because you’re super quick with it? I think.
No, it’s it’s always a challenge. Right. And I think that the hardest for me was probably learning English. Because my my first and native language is tied to anything we learn English in school for a long time, but it was very difficult to to speak. And I think eventually, you know, what really helped me was actually watching movies and TV series.
So back in the days, I was watching, like series, like friends or heroes, you know, thought to watch them with my headphones and reading subtitles
initially in Thai, and you know, eventually switching to English. And that’s how I’m trying to do the same with French now. You know, that?
Are the French movies and series on Netflix. I try them on right now. I still do
English subtitles, but I think you know, the more custom I am Yeah, I will switch to French. What’s your thinking language?
Currently English? Oh, yeah. Even though it’s my second language. But but that’s a very interesting question. Because my I mean, I think that I realized that on everything in English, except for numbers. When they get to numbers, like, like, recounting my phone numbers, PIN code, or splitting the bills, it goes back to tie.
That is interesting. So I mean,
for me for I’m also trying to learn the language. But somehow, I think what is most important, when you are really up when you really want to learn a language is talking, it’s important that you start talking in that language, otherwise, it will all be theory and you you will not have a practical experience with it. Okay, perfect. Sounds good. And so I am looking at, at your responses to my, to my so to my questionnaire, and this is something that’s really interesting to me where you said that in your professional career, so the question was, how did you land to this professional career and you have said that you really thought it through and you are you are guided by mentors, teachers and colleagues. And I want you to throw a little more light on this. So let’s start from your, let’s say, educational background. So how what did you study? How did you move out of Thailand? How did you land at different places, and you know, the whole journey around it? Yeah.
So back when I was 15, and that’s when I first left Thailand as an exchange student, I was with AF s, intercultural programs. I spent one year as an exchange student in Houston, Texas. That was my first time being away from my family, first time being abroad. And on my own, it was really a scary experience at the time. But it was also a very profound experience that helped me grow up a lot. And I was really pushed outside of my comfort zone, but I was welcomed by a lovely, loving American host family. I made a lot of friends who are both Americans and also other exchange students. I mean, that that experience really opened up my eyes to, you know, the opportunities that are available out there and have the freedom to issues and you know, prioritize different things and specifically
You know, high school system in the US versus in Thailand, where in in Thailand, you have to pick a specific track right away, whether you want to go in science part path, or, you know, the arts or languages, whereas at the time,
many of us are students may still, you know, still want to test the water or to test different things. So, I was attracted to that.
Freedom. And, you know, I love the experience, and I feel that I grew a lot. So, after the exchange here in Texas, I, you know, I returned to Thailand, and then, you know, started to look for other opportunities to go abroad again. And, you know, I was fortunate to find, and was given a scholarship to study at the United world College in Italy. So united world college, for those who have not heard, it’s
a group of boarding schools around the world that was founded after the Cold War, to foster peace and international understanding. So it’s really, you know, my school had around 100 students for the last two years of high school, but we all came from around 80 different countries around the world. And that, again, was really an experience where, you know, I, I, you know, it was just amazing day to day that, you know, we can be in a classroom discussing history, or, you know, economics or social situations that are going on around the world, we actually have classmates from those places that, you know, can can can share light on unreal experience, or, you know, when there was an earthquake in Japan, or, you know, or an event somewhere, it’s not just a news that we see on TV, but actually, you know, when one of your friends or colleagues or family are actually experiencing that, sorry, then it was where I was really, you know, felt like the world is actually more connected and closer than I thought it would be. And that’s also where I, you know, felt the responsibility to, to pay it forward somehow, because at that point, I was, I felt extremely fortunate already, that I was given these opportunities to explore the world and to study abroad. And, you know, that’s kind of where I first have that standard, the intention to work in something that helps other people. So when I went to university, I studied economics and geography, geography focuses on international development, because, you know, I thought I wanted to go into international development and work in this area. So for me, personally, I, you know, back in university, I knew that I wanted to go into Korea, that would create a social impact, and that would help other people. And I was exploring within the international development space, that’s where I did all of my internships, I did my thesis in university, within development, finance, and I thought, I have found an area that I would focus on for the rest of my life.
But then I would, I was advised by someone who was actually working in that field, that it might be better for me to also consider private sector experience early on in my career, because in private, because it would one, it would be harder to make a transition the other way around, you know, from from public or social sector to private sector. And then to, there are a lot of skill sets and learning that that we can get from private sector. So at the time, you know, technology was becoming very important. That’s how a lot of social programs scale their impact. And Google was, you know, at the time was a big hype around being one of the best places to work for and it was, it was all very exciting. And I was fortunate to receive an offer from Google Singapore, at the time.
So you know, that that’s why I decided to join Google. I was also
had been, at the time studied abroad for around 10 years. So I wanted to be closer to home. So Singapore was a perfect location to start my career and I love my time at Google, learn a lot. Met lifelong friends that I’m so in touch with, and many mentors and coaches as well.
You know, from from after three years at Google, I was ready for the next challenge and was really looking to get myself acquainted with different situations, industries, functions and varieties who really learn a lot in a short amount of time.
That’s why I decided to pursue consulting. Okay. And so you also have mentioned that something where, where you did not meet your own expectations, you said that you were treating your career as a sprint, rather than a marathon? What do you mean by that? Like, what what did you discover?
says, So I think, you know, during my first
job, full time job, my first career, I was, you know, young graduate out of university full of energy full of motivation to really do well. And, you know, during my first job, I think, I might have been a bit impatient in how I approached the job, right, because now I realize that a career, it’s not something short term, it’s not like in University, where you may just have to push through, you know, two to three months of courses to an M to pass a test, and then you start over the next one, right career is really 30 year journey. But during my first year, I might have been a bit too impatient, and, you know, trying to prove myself quickly, trying to show, you know, doing well in my work, trying to get recognition or a promotion, or different mobility, too early on, not thinking about the different the long term view, and also not thinking about, like, the immediate term of, you know, what I get to do, or whether I get a promotion or not, but really, you know, what, what am I contributing to, to the company, or the people around me into the society, and also to what kind of skill sets that I was learning and I was picking out red, because moving forward or progressing does not mean that I move to a different role or getting a promotion, it, it also means that I grow as a person, or I develop skill sets that I did not have previously. So, you know, I think it was kind of an early child challenge in their career. And you know, that other young graduates may also experience you know, coming with a lot of motivation, and hope and dreams and wanting to do a lot of things. But I think it’s really about finding the right balance, and even, you know, being of service to yourself, but also to your boss, to your team and the people around you serving. But there was a big lesson for me early on. And actually, you know, this is also when I discovered coaching, and you know, I’ve never mentioned coaching, so within Google, there is an excellent internal program called career guru, which gives us access to, you know, career coaches who are mid or senior executives within the company, that don’t work directly with you, but volunteer their time to coach you. Because I knew I had all of this excess energy or,
you know, or like doubts about what I had to do. So I started to, you know, try out some sessions with career coaches within Google. And they helped me so much, and gaining clarity, or giving me a peace of mind for some time boosting my energy or positive energy from where I was, because, you know, I think I was trying to navigate the professional life. Yeah. And I think that’s when I realize how powerful it is, to have a coach to to help you understand that coaches come in so many different forms, from, you know, like someone like appear, or executive coach, career coach around how you manage conflicts, how you manage your energy, how to get into a certain job, how to prepare for interviews, TV, so, like, so many different forums, but I think all of us could could benefit from one. And then, you know, from being a heavy user myself, you know, I realized that, you know, this is so beneficial and can help other people so much. And at the same time, as I started to advance in my career, I started receiving messages on LinkedIn or from, you know, students remind universities or high school, reaching out for general advice, or you know, about different things. And I think that’s when I started to also become a coach myself. And that’s, you know, when I realized that, you know, this is one of the passions of mine too, to really be able to, to help other people. So basically, just to sum everything up basically, we did you did your math, your bachelor
in geography and economics from the US, and then you landed into Google, in a sales strategy position. And there, you got into knowing a little more about various carriers, exploring what you really want out of it through your carrier quotes,
then add Google, and then you switch to consulting, because this was something that sort of excited you more. Yes.
Okay. And so I see that right now you’re working as a senior Engagement Manager. And as you already mentioned, the beginning it has to do with some digital contents, or marketing and so on. So what do you exactly do right now, at McKinsey, we help clients on a variety of topics based on what their needs are. So we cover everything from strategy, operations, supply chain, digital merger and acquisition. So really a wide range. And as I mentioned, I work a lot related to commercial and digital topics. So example would be, you know, helping a company to come up with a strategy to grow their businesses and come in three to five years, or, you know, thinking about what their ecommerce strategy would be. That could be one topic or, you know, given their COVID situations, rethinking about how their digital and IT teams could better support the rest of their organizations, we work in close knit team for around, you know, three to six consultants per team. And depending on the topic, duration could be as short as a few weeks per strategy topics, as long as three to six months for some of them more hands on projects. Right? So I also want to understand, so basically, because you have some, you have a good professional experience, and you talk to a lot of people around
in today’s today’s world, so to say is specialization, more looked forward to or a generalistic role, where you have, you know, like, basically, you’re a jack of all trades. Is that kind of role more demanded? Or, again, is it like the consulting answer in defense?
Oh, yes, I tend to give you the consulting answer. But, but but but I think, for me what what’s most important is, you know, I think there are rooms, and there are deeds, for books for all for both types of profile for both generalists and specialists. And then eventually, I believe that it boils down to what are you and I or the individual, most motivated by? Right, because I think some people who love to get into the details and nitty gritty or you love a specific topic, I think that’s great for you to go, the specialist route. But some people may get bored easily, or I like to look at the big picture and, you know, like to tackle multiple things at once, then maybe the journalist path is better suited. Right. But but but given that, I think, you know, we hear about this T shaped profile, which means that, you know, the top part of the T is that you have a broad set of General, General skills should be like problem solving, communication, sales, or marketing, or whatever it may be. And at the root of the tea, you have one area of specialization that you’re known for, maybe, you know, that’s like digital marketing, that’s public relations, or,
you know, whatever it may be, so that you have as the deep expertise is your unique value proposition. But you also have a broad set of general skills so that you are adaptable and transversal to to different areas. And so I think that’s just why do I so have you come across any any kind of, I don’t know, toolkit or idea or strategy to find out exactly, you know, what, what is so there could be people who sort of like a lot of things, they don’t have a special interest, let’s say or they they have not identified their own particular interest in some topic, or they might not be, you know, very, very focused on some one particular thing. Then it’s all about what opportunities are coming to your do your plate or you know, where are you at that point of time, all those things come into picture. But if there’s some ways or methods, some tool, anything that you have identified that it can help you sort of figure out, you know, what your
Shining Armor could be?
Yeah. So for me personally, I probably
like to weigh. So I think one informally was through
schools and university that, you know, I try out many different things. And this is through university clubs and activities to test out what I like, and what I’m motivated by intrinsically, you know, moved to do. So I think after trying out different things, I think that gives you a sense of what what do you enjoy or not. And I think you can do this in university is obvious, but I think even if we even within a workplace, you know, at Google, in the beginning, I used to schedule a lot of like, coffee shops, where people from different teams different functions, or within Google, we have this
site or passion project called 20% project, where it’s not really 20%. But it’s more a way for you to volunteer your time to help out a different team on whatever tasks or projects they may have at hand ratio. So that’s a great way to test out
for yourself. And then part two, I think there are more like tactical tools that I have gone through as part of the different
workshops or professional development off site during my career. So these are things like, you know, Strengths Finder, or MBTI personality test, I think there are a few of them that are available online that as rather than a friend Hampshire. So essentially, you fill out this test, and it may it gives you insight into like strength fighter, for example, what are your top five top 10 strengths that are intrinsically within you? And how can you capitalize on these strengths to help you and people around you? Right, so the idea that we should invest the majority of our time to capitalize on our strengths, rather than to try to, quote unquote, fix a few weaknesses? Yeah, absolutely. And what I have also found out, through my experience, and speaking a little more people is
you have to sort of look at those things, which are very, very natural to you some things that come naturally to you, you’re naturally good at it. And people, I mean, people would have pointed out and said, Wow, you’re doing it so. So normally, and it’s so it comes so easily to you. It could be anything like let’s say for example, communication, that could be your, your forte, or, for example, I’ve seen people who can do very good research on internet, you know, they can find out stuff, like the relevant stuff very, very quickly. So they, those are the people who could get into a, I think research area, because they had that kind of nag, you know, so you, I think you if you look back, if you talk to your friends, family, you know, people around you, you will be able to identify what your sort of core strength is, which is that something that comes naturally to you that that is something that I think should be focused upon.
Yeah, yeah, I love that, about coming naturally to you. Because I think one of the things I realized, after my first few year of work is to listen to your gut feeling exactly what you said about what come naturally to you. Because a lot of times, we are primed by society or expectations, telling us that, okay, you know, I should study this topic, because, you know, this is safe, or it’s the prestigious, or I should work for this company, or do this role, because, you know, it’s, it’s like the most sought after, but deep down, I think all of us have this, like inner voice or gut feeling that says, am I excited? You know, when we hear this, when you picture yourself doing public speaking, or doing research or interacting with customers, you know, What, are you really excited by it? And somehow we knew it within our gut feeling, or in our inner voice. But, you know, we tell ourselves otherwise, because but, you know, this is really what I should do, because it’s a great company or a great role. But if it’s not for us, then you know, I think we should go with what sports but it’s a no dad, we have what is it that drives you how like how would you define your inner self? What do you say to yourself when you are sort of facing any challenges or issues or problems? How do you motivate yourself?
so I think
a few things for me, I think one is gratitude.
To is paying it forward. And gratitude, I think,
you know, when it’s a, and I think there’s a lot of, you know, neuroscience and psychology literature and a lot of people that talk about it now. But I think oftentimes when we face challenges, or we are struggling with something, or mental energy is really focused on that area that is not going right. And we often forget to take a few steps back and take a look at what we have. And there’s actually a lot of things for us to be grateful for. And I think once we shift our mindset, from being in a negative energy or any negative place, realizing a lot of things are going well, I think that really helps
to shift the mindset, and for me personally, to feel better. And I know that it’s easier to say, than to actually do it. And, you know, all of these men may not come will not come overnight, right? So, so take your time also. But eventually, I believe that every experience every challenge or struggle, will give us a lesson and and will make us a stronger and a more resilient person. I totally I mean, I don’t think I can agree word to every single thing that you are saying, I just want to add one more thing to this whole, I think set of things that you mentioned and what I also find sometimes which is which is coming me also they need around is being patient with yourself, you know giving yourself time because when you are getting into something, which is challenging when when there is any kind of problem that you are facing, and you want to sort of, you know, figure things out, you have to give yourself that time, you cannot expect things to, as you already mentioned, it will not happen overnight. So you cannot expect things to be fine immediately. So give yourself that time give yourself that.
I mean the comfort around yourself that okay, you are putting your effort into it, you are doing every single thing that you can, and eventually things will fall in place. If if not the way you thought about it, probably something else would happen. But eventually I think it’s oil.
I think it all happens for something good. This is what I personally believe. And so that could be something as well that could sort of soothe you down if in case you are now.
So we are coming towards the end of the interview. And I wanted to understand from you two things now. So you are from Thailand, and you’ve moved to the US right now you are in Paris, you’ve also traveled across the world, to a lot of other countries. What is it that you think is important for people? Can you sum sum it up? And have you seen something that you know, almost everybody is seeking? And
that is something that everybody should try to focus on to be sort of happy or fulfilled?
That’s a good question.
That’s a great question. So so then on, on,
on a deep for level, I think eventually everyone is looking for love acceptance and community, you know, that that we want to be connected to people around us, we want to be cared for. And we also want to care for other people. And I think this comes both,
you know, personally, at home with your loved ones, with your partners, your family, your relatives, and also professionally,
I think you know that
there is a form of caring for one another. There is a sense of camaraderie and community. Because I think that is really where people feel a sense of belonging, and then where they feel safe and secure and where they thrive. Wherever they are subsiding. For me, that’s where I have seen across and it’s universal, and maybe more on a fun thing. I think like food
is a great way to connect people, right, like University, wherever we are, wherever we go. I think you know, when you sit down together in front of a meal or you know, when you’re a stranger, a new environment, you know, having the local sharing about their local cuisine and expertise and vice versa. So I think it’s a it’s a great icebreaker and a way to connect with people. Yes, I agree. I have seen badges
Well, I mean, in fact was an experience to, I’ve seen that.
But do you have like,
do you have like a favorite place on earth as of now?
No, I, I mean, I think I mean,
not to be so cliche. But I think you know, if you’re a people, if you’re with people, you enjoy their company that that’s, that’s makes the place special. But to be more specific, I love nature and I love water. So any place that by the lake by the sea by the ocean, have you been to Germany?
Yes, some parts of Germany and Serbian to Munich, and also the
Freebird. Oh, you Freiburg and the South. That’s nice. Okay.
So, so, I mean, a last piece of advice that I would like to take from you is for anybody who wants to get into, let’s say, because because your experiences primarily with a tech, a big tech company, or a big consulting firm, anybody who wants to get into this
into these two industries, would you have any specific advisors? for them?
That’s setting, you know, one be be clear on your your motivation and attention, you know, why? why you think this would be a good fit for you, and how you would like to grow and gain from the experience. And to start doing your homework there, you know, by
doing research online, there are a lot of good content out there, connect with people from your network, from your school, from your university, LinkedIn, whatever it may be to, to start to get to know or go to information sessions, at your, your school or university. And then three is to do,
you know, preparation, in terms of the interviews and application.
So I think these three steps are more tailored to like applying for the jobs directly. But I think Above all, is to,
you know, and make the most out of your
school, university or professional experience. Because I think, at the end of the day, you know, the bigger path of your 30 year career, or your life journey is more important than getting into Company A or Company B, whatever it may be, right. So again, think about your own journey overall. And, you know, be involved in activities that help you grow as a person, as an individual that help you move towards that goal, I’ll still be involved in, you know, certain government or clubs, or sports, arts, whatever it may be for you. Right? Because anything, once you do things that you’re intrinsically motivated by you, you tend to do well and better. And big companies also like this, right? Because it sees that you’re involved and that you excel, and that you’re not have leadership in your extracurricular activities, any better but I
don’t want to do to be to focus on sort of making your profile just to fit a job description, our hiring criteria, but really think about your career and your yourself as a whole person, a whole journey. And I think that way, you’ll become more fulfilled and more interesting and therefore a more attractive profile for big companies. Yes. Yes. Absolutely. I totally agree with with with this whole thought process. And I also want to add, I mean, from from what I have seen, and in my experience as well, it is very, very important to be able to understand what are you going to bring to the table so do not just try to let’s say do something because everybody else is doing it. Or do not just try to be in that area because it’s in demand. Do not just try to do something because you know, people, everybody around you is sort of telling you that this is going to be has a big scope and all of that. I mean, all these things are there and they will be there forever. But if you are if you are good in something, it could be a very small quality you could you could stretch upon it and you can you can have your own personal experience and your personal experience is what you will bring to the table and that is what you will sell to people and that is what people would want. So identify what you can do to make things better for
The company for the team for your balls for if you’re worried do something on your own then for the society or you know, whatever you wants to do, eventually your focus should more be on what do you like to do and what is it that you can do nicely without a lot of effort? I mean, I think then you will, you will do excellent in whatever professional area you choose.