By PHUWIT LIMVIPHUWAT
With over 10 years of experience in visual design and front-end development, Pete Chemsripong, general manager of ThoughtWorks (Thailand), is convinced that the key to boosting customers’ user experience lies in melding technology with art.
Pete calls his global tech-consulting firm a “thought leader” in using technology to solve core business issues. His current mission is to employ the “concept to cash” process to help revolutionise traditional business practices in Thailand.
Technology certainly wasn’t his first love, though.
“When I was young, all I wanted to do was draw cartoons. I was determined to make a living from drawing cartoons despite my family urging me to use my artistic skills to pursue a career in architecture,” Pete said during an interview with The Nation.
A move from his home province of Phitsanulok came when Pete’s mother got a scholarship to study in Australia, which also covered Pete’s education.
His passion for illustration eventually saw him collect a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication from the University of Newcastle, then a Master’s in Design Science from Sydney University.
After graduating he pursued his artistic passion by opening a small drawing school. Then came the fateful mishap that eventually led him to ThoughtWorks.
“After teaching arts to children for a while, my career choice of illustration was no longer viable after I badly injured my hand,” he said. “This was when I turned to technology and started to find jobs as a visual designer.”
Pete worked for marketing agencies as a web designer for several years before joining ThoughtWorks’ Sydney team in 2012 as an Experience Design consultant. He moved on to help build the Brisbane office in 2013 and then set up the ThoughtWorks Singapore design team in 2014. Since 2016, Pete has been working on user-experience tech as part of the Bangkok office.
“At ThoughtWorks Sydney I realised that when you put art and technology together, the work that you create has the potential to transform the user experience of others,” he recalled.
Pete and his ThoughtWorks colleagues have worked closely with industry leaders to improve their software operations in Thailand, including leading firms in e-commerce, financial services and aviation.
The artist turned technologist also promotes the cutting-edge “concept to cash” business process to his clients.
“Competitive advantage now lies in a firm’s ability to innovate and adapt to technological change,” Pete continued. “Traditional business models where operations are split into dislocated departments can no longer cope with the pace of change.”
For instance, firms normally take 24 months to develop a new product and launch it on the market, he explained,
By that time, the product may already be out of date because a competitor will have released a new product in the interim.
The “concept to cash” process establishes close links between different departments of an organisation to foster rapid generation and evaluation of ideas that can be quickly turned into profit. ThoughtWorks uses this approach to develop efficient end-to-end software solutions for its clients, he said.
As a thought leader in design technology, Pete is also a co-founder of the User Experience (UX) Community, a non-profit organisation focused on empowering the local community with better design. The UX community has grown from modest beginnings.
“It started out as a few visual designers meeting up for lunch. We agreed to share our experiences and discuss issues that visual designers in Thailand face,” he recounted.
“Gradually, our lunch meetings grew larger and we started to organise conferences and invited global leaders in visual design as guest speakers. At our last conference, we had up to 600 attendees,” he said.
The UX Community is now sponsored by various firms in Thailand, including Krungthai Innovation Lab, Kasikorn Business-Technology Group and even ThoughtWorks.
Having upskilled from a traditional illustrator to a visual designer, Pete understands the process of digital transformation at a very personal level. He has also nurtured growth of the country’s top software consulting firm and visual design community.
With those glittering achievements behind him, the future looks bright both for himself and the companies he deals with.
Pete’s vision of employing innovative business practices and technology to transform traditional business operations also bodes well for the country. Thailand can only benefit from more ambitious “thought leaders” like Pete.