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Thai Gallery – Patima Khunpromkessara

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PHUKET: Troubles in the southern provinces of Thailand are real and constant. Political unrest results in a spate of bombings, taking the lives of many and the problems look set to continue.

Born and raised in Yala, Patima Khunpromkessara remembers just the opposite. “It was a neat little town. Do you know that we have a town plan similar to Singapore, with spaces sectioned into zones for living, leisure and working? Yala won all kinds of environment awards for being clean and organized and I couldn’t have imagined a more peaceful place.”

She continues, a little downcast this time: “I don’t quite understand how different beliefs can propel such horrible acts as killing. When I was young, my school friends were all from different backgrounds. Buddhists, Muslims and Chinese lived together in harmony.

Patima, 36, Assistant Managing Director of Blue D Zine, a software management company, came to Phuket in 1994 to study at the Prince of Songkhla University. She says she couldn’t help immediately noticing the different atmosphere generated by the strong commerce and thriving tourist industry here. For a ‘country girl’ like herself, it was exciting.

With this spirit, she went into life head on. After completing a degree in hotel and tourism management, during which time she developed a liking for computer science, she worked briefly for the University’s IT department before joining phuket.com, one of Phuket’s first major online companies, as a senior web designer. The company and her colleagues there, she says, were inspirational for her future work.

Four years on, she left the company after spotting an opportunity to ‘go it alone,’ and, together with a Japanese web programmer, Patima set up an online hotel booking business, Blue Sky, in 2002.

“Looking back, I was very bullish to want my own business at 25. It must be the kind of craziness that comes with such a young age. I simply thought: ‘Oh, if it doesn’t work out I will just go back to working for phuket.com.'”

With only a few competitors around, the business grew from strength to strength. Now called Blue D Zine, the company offers online marketing consultancy, website design and management.

With Patima’s knowledge of the tourism business, the company rightly focuses on the needs of travel agents and even came up with their own software brands – toursys and travelsys.

The packages, believed to be among the first of their kind, went on to win the National Innovation Agency award. But the highest accolade for Patima is the fact that they are now being used by many schools and universities as part of the teaching materials used in tourism courses.

“I am proud that my products are part of our education system,” says Patima, who now teaches tourism IT at her alma mater, Prince of Songkhla University.

Patima, who was inspired by the Government’s as-yet unfulfilled initiatives back in the 1990s for Phuket to become an ‘IT paradise’, says she is still committed to working toward that very idea and believes that Phuket can and should become an IT hub producing its home-grown software.

Part of that commitment means that she is constantly working and her latest project includes developing mobile applications for the tourism industry.

Readers will be glad to learn that Patima does shut her computer off from time to time and indulges in her new-found passion – salsa dancing. Striving to achieve work-life balance, she also travels regularly to relax and unwind. Her favorite spot is Chiang Mai.

The individuals profiled in “Thai Gallery” are chosen on the basis of their contributions to Phuket as an international community, and, often, for having made those contributions through successful social and/or working relationships with foreigners. This implies some foreign language skills and an interest in interacting with different cultures. They are people who in our experience help make the lives of expats far more enjoyable here than might be the case without them.

— Nanthapa Pengkasem

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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