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People Patama Chantaruck, The AI Advocate

Patama Chantaruck, The AI Advocate

Patama Chantaruck, The AI Advocate
By Prijayanat Kalampasut
By Prijayanat Kalampasut
April 05, 2020
The managing director of IBM Thailand is bringing her experience and influence in the field of technology to bear to help create value for businesses and solutions for a better world

A Washington State University graduate, Patama Chantaruck spent 23 years with IT behemoth Microsoft, 19 of them in the US with the four years between 2007-2011 as managing director of the company’s operations in Thailand. She began her career as a product marketing manager and eventually left Seattle as general manager for worldwide software asset management and compliance.

Two years ago the 52-year-old was contemplating a return to Thailand for good when IBM approached her. “The timing was perfect,” Patama says. “With ageing parents I figured it was time to come home and help my younger sister take care of them. But the decision to leave Microsoft wasn’t easy because I basically grew up with the company. That said, my roles there required frequent travel and I was keen to scale that back so I could spend more time with my folks. The IBM position allows me to do that while still contributing to an industry I love.”

Moving back to Thailand and learning to adapt to the local working culture was one of the biggest challenges for Patama. “That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy coming to work every day,” she says. “I love it, challenges and all.” A hard worker who takes nothing for granted, Patama is ever so grateful for the opportunities which have led her to where she is today. “I owe much of this to my parents who sent me abroad and always encouraged me,” she says.

IBM has had a presence in Thailand for almost 68 years. “Transforming the way that we do business is my north star,” says the executive, who also acts as the company’s vice president for Indochina. “It is important that we never become outdated or obsolete as a technology solutions provider.” In addition to overseeing IBM operations and expansion in the region, she is also responsible for the company’s strategic development and one of the innovations she is currently advocating is AI.

Alongside machine learning technologies, IBM has been researching and exploring the potential for AI for decades. “We are the only company in the world with AI algorithms that can describe scent and sound. Our Watson solutions offer powerful and industry-changing AI platforms to enterprises. Rather than replacing humans, AI has the ability to move both technology and humanity forward together. It can help fuel a new era of man-machine cooperation thanks to data-driven insights and analysis allied with highly strategic and outcome-focused processes,” Patama explains.

And it’s not just pioneering applications for business that enthuse Patama. “To contribute to the Thailand 4.0 agenda, in cooperation with the government and a weather forecast company we are exploring how we can help to tackle the pollution problem in Thailand by using our solutions to pinpointing the sources of PM2.5 to within a one-kilometre range, which is very exciting” she explains. “This is what I love–technological advancements and how they can be used for the betterment of our community and the world.”

Away from work, the single IT industry veteran relaxes by spending time with family, catching up with old friends and reading for pleasure. Looking ahead, she hopes to have more time to dedicate to social causes as well. “Frankly work consumes so much of my time but I am thinking of taking up the piano again. I played a lot when I was young and find music to be therapeutic. In fact, if I hadn’t gone into IT I would have loved to have been a professional pianist,” she laughs.

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