In this issue we are honored to visit Thailand’s U.S. Ambassador at her residence and talked to her about Thailand’s technological movement, trends, and readiness for AEC in terms of IT and technology. She also shared her point of view on technology and IT and their tremendous impact towards Thai society. Moreover we will also get to know her more and find out about her philosophy of life to be happy from the outside, as “Public Figure”, a real lady of the society and also from the inside.
Amid Bangkok’s chaos, skyscrapers, vehicles, and crowded people stand her residence which can bring a peace of mind to people who visit the place. This might be where the definition of “Home Sweet Home” comes from.
Inside her residence we eyed on many pictures of her with nice and gorgeous decorated photo frames. Of course, those pictures could tell her stories better than words. We saw her in many places and with many people. Some people we are familiar with such as U.S. President Barack Obama, students in Thailand, and U.S. marines, etc. She has met so many people from all
different backgrounds and industries. After a while she came to greet us with sweet and welcoming gestures. We were ready to talk to her and know her more.
Q: How long have you been in Thailand? Have you enjoyed the country so far?
Ambassador Kristie: “I have been here for two and a half years. I will be here for about a year from now. So it will be three and a half years as a U.S. Ambassador. Thailand is so great, so “Diverse”. But, not just Bangkok. As the U.S. Ambassador, I have a chance to travel around the country to see American businesses, talk to university students, etc. It is so different if you are in “Paark Esan” (North Eastern part of Thailand), up in Chiang Mai (Northern part), or Phuket (Southern part). They are all totally different: food, clothes, style. It’s all so wonderful!”
Q: In terms of technological development, how do you see Thailand so far?
Ambassador Kristie: “Thailand is so advanced among countries in ASEAN. People even say Thailand is the “Facebook Capital of the World” because so many people here are on
Facebook. I think that reflects technology use today. People are very connected and Thailand is so “Tech Friendly”.
We find social media, like Facebook, to be a very wonderful way to use technology to communicate with people. For example, our Embassy chats with people on Facebook in order to give them answers on things such as applying for a U.S. visa. We also use social media as a tool to promote things such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to people.”
Q: What does U.S. Embassy do to support the country?
Ambassador Kristie: “The U.S. Embassy supports American technology businesses in Thailand which do several things from hardware, software, to content. We also support students in the technology field through our development projects such as
“Students with Solutions”. This program lets students design apps to solve everyday life problems. It helps inspire creativity for Thailand’s “Young Tech Generation”. Thailand’s economy is growing, the technology sector is huge.”
Q: What will be the factors to invest in Thailand?
Ambassador Kristie: “At the moment there is a lot of American businesses. More and more will come. One of the factors is, first of all, the great infrastructure. Also, Thailand is a welcoming country for expats. Foreign companies are very welcomed to invest here in Thailand.”
“Secondly, Thailand has a good labor force. They are friendly, energetic, and technology savvy. Third is the location. Thailand is a “Central Hub” which is convenient for you to fly from here to anywhere in South East Asia.”
Q: What is the difference between Thailand 20 years or 10 years ago and at the moment in relation to technology?
Ambassador Kristie: “The difference is enormous. What has changed extraordinarily is the way of communication and exchanging information. People do not stick to the desktop computer, instead they use iPhone tucked in the purse or iPad in their arm. It is fantastic how you can deliver news and information to people. You can sell products and even solve social problems or inform people when there is a natural disaster through technology. More importantly, there is the concept of “Cloud Computing”. Facebook and Instagram are huge, especially in Asia. Technology helps drive industries. Businesses go online. Formerly some businesses did not have websites, now they start their businesses from websites.”
Let’s get to know U.S. Ambassador in another aspect. We will talk about her life which might be an inspiration for readers.
Q: What do you think could be an inspiration for your life?
Ambassador Kristie: “I always had the idea that I want to be “happy”. You can choose to be happy, or not to be happy. I have had the good fortune to f ind the work I love. I’m happy—I have a wonderful family, exciting work every single day. I do work hard, but it’s okay when you love it.”
Q: If you were not a U.S. Ambassador, what would you be?
Ambassador Kristie: “It would be fun to be behind the creation of new technologies. I appreciate people who are clever enough to invent Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. It would have been fun to be involved in imagining technology, what people will need next, what will be the next wave of communication.”
Q: Having seen you using a lot of social network to communicate with people, are you addicted to that?
Ambassador Kristie: “Addicted is a strong word. I think social networks allow you to hear, to learn, and also to share. Once you get started, it is hard to stop. Technology can improve our lives. You can do more; learn more, it is extra convenient for you. It suits you whether you want to research something or your personal life. Technology affects me in every positive way.”