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Kulwipa Praditphollert

Sales Director for key accounts

Kulwipa's Story

At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.

Looking back on my twelve years here, it’s a high-pressure, high-demand role. It’s tough, but I enjoy the whole construct of it.

Kulwipa Praditphollert

Ask Kulwipa Praditphollert what drew her to IT after graduating with an engineering degree, and she laughs heartily.

"I think you would be surprised to hear my answer," she replies.

"While I liked computers, science and mathematics, I never really see myself as a typical engineering stereotype. In terms of my personal characteristics, I enjoy talking and meeting people because my family run their own business. I was exposed to businesses at a young age. Thus, selling becomes very natural for me."

"On the academic side, I always gravitated towards science and mathematics, which I genuinely enjoyed anyway. In my view, science and mathematics are very logical. You understand it, and you go boom! It just clicks. You don’t need to spend hours trying to memorize stuff, so that’s how I worked when I was a kid. Those subjects made perfect sense to me. This guided me later, when I had to pick a major before I entered university. I’m not sure if it’s the same elsewhere but in Thailand the science programs in the top schools lead you to engineering or medicine and that’s pretty much it. But if you go down the path of the arts, you probably have more options, but I looked at all of those arts-related options and none of them held any fascination for me."

"Okay, so it was the science program for me and then the choice was either engineering or medicine. I was never going to be a doctor, since I didn’t like biology, mainly because I didn’t want to memorize things – but that’s a regret for me now. I guess it’s not that I didn’t like biology; I didn’t realize that, it’s just that the way things were being described was not hands-on. At the time it seemed to me like it was more centered on reading technical papers and journals. That was how I viewed it at the time back then, but with the benefit of hindsight I think I looked at biology differently."

"I went to engineering school not entirely by choice, but by looking at what career options were open to me. I certainly have no regrets about choosing that program, but was it something that I really wanted? I have to admit no, I can’t really say that with any degree of certainty. But I have to say that I chose my degree course based entirely on my personal preferences and I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, because it was all about what drew me and what I thought I was best suited to."

"To be honest, I was very young then,” she says with a laugh. “In terms of Asian culture, I was really excited about the chance to study elsewhere and to be exposed to a different culture and a different learning environment as well. At that point, my decision was, ‘Okay, I’ll just see what happens after my Masters. If I get a job there, great; if I don’t, I’ll just come back home. That was always a viable option because I still had a safety net here in Thailand, with my family based here. That was pretty much it. From a very young age, I was always a girl who wanted to do something different. And I’ve always liked technology and anything related to computers. So yeah, I always knew I would fit well into this sort of ecosystem."

"I completed my engineering degree here in Thailand and I worked for a computer company for three years as a pre-sales engineer before I went to the US, where I did my Master's in computer science. Looking back on it now, it was a big decision to go to the United States."

"My family were a bit surprised – my dad didn’t expect me to be heading to the United States for so long, or that I would find a job there after completing my Masters. He always said, oh yeah, after you graduate you’ll immediately come straight back to Thailand and help us with our own business. Meanwhile, I was like, yeah, sure, sure, Dad."

"It was difficult for my dad to come to terms with that, but my mum was very supportive. She’s an entrepreneur and she was able to see what my intentions were. She certainly supported me in that decision and she was the one who helped me in pushing things through. She just said, ‘You go and don’t worry about anything.’ Her view was that I should go ahead with whatever I wanted to do if I thought it would lead me to a great career path. ‘Go do it,’ was her advice."

"From a very young age until now, I’ve always looked at my mum as a role model. I guess it’s very common for a girl to look up to her mother. She would always wake up early, go to the market, buy what was needed and then come back right away to cook for my grandparents, and then make sure the kids would get to school on time, and run our family businesses. I hardly ever saw her sit down and just relax. That is something that really resonates – my family works very hard, but they have a real sense of purpose as well."

"My mum was relaxed about me leaving home to go to the States, while my dad just assumed I’d return to Thailand after completing my Masters, of course that’s not how it really happened. After I graduated, I applied for a job in America, got an offer for an IT company and accepted the role. My idea was that I would try it for a year or two and just take it one step at a time. You know, the whole corporate career wasn’t really something that I was looking at with any seriousness at that time."

"At the IT company, I worked with their engineering labs and their partners and that really exposed me to SAP for the first time. The whole experience in the States, obviously, was very different from a typical school in Asia, totally different. What I enjoyed a lot was the way that I got exposed to a unique non-Asian environment. That enabled me to really understand not just what was around me, academically and culturally, but also to understand myself as well. That meant I really got a chance to push myself to my full potential at that point."

"To understand that, you have to realize that I come from a family where I always had a helper here in Thailand and so of course I didn’t even know how to cook or clean or do regular day-to-day chores! That’s just Asian culture, though. Having said that, my parents did try to teach us to be very independent, but going to the United States gave me a deeper sense of independence, because I had to do everything for myself for the first time. It really was the right decision to go there and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in America, although the first couple of months were rather painful."

"At the very start of my stint there, I had to remind myself, ‘Hey, this was my decision,’ and that really helped me find the right perspective. After all, I chose to do it and I didn’t just want to do my Masters, but to be exposed to a whole new life experience as well. When you think about it, a degree is just a piece of paper, but the overall perspective of what you can get in life, both from a personal and from a professional point of view, came into much sharper focus for me during that time."

"I tried to enjoy every single moment. There were many adjustments to a new culture, a new language and a completely different living style, as well as the fact that the entire curriculum was all new to me. That was a huge learning curve for me but I did enjoy it a lot. I was lucky enough that during my Masters, I got a scholarship, and I worked part-time for the faculty as well. That was something I really enjoyed, and the added benefit was that it really did help me in terms of time management skills."

"I used to work for a system integrator, a hardware partner of SAP, and I was really drawn to SAP in terms of their products and solutions, so I suppose it was just a matter of time before I joined SAP in America. Looking back on my twelve years here, it’s a high-pressure, high-demand role. It’s tough, but I enjoy the whole construct of it. Sometimes, things don’t always go according to plan, no matter how much time, preparation, thought and effort you put into it. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we are here because we chose to be here."

"Everything I’ve done in over a decade at SAP has really strengthened my early view that this is the only company that aligns business requirements with a sense of purpose."

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