By Kanda Yaemboonruang
“Do not stop learning and do not be afraid to try.” This is the motto that turned Dr. Rapeerat Thanyawatpornkul, who earned 3 degrees at the Asian Institute of Technology, from an engineer into a social media influencer.
Five years ago, the AIT alum started a Facebook page called “THE PRACTiCAL”, creating a platform of quality content and inspiring quotes to help people who have problems with their working life. At the beginning, it did not generate any income, but that did not stop him from continually creating new and unique online content and from learning about social media and online marketing. His page has gradually grown as he continues to develop his skills, gathering from his personal experiences and collecting an ever-growing audience. Recently, his page crossed over 700K followers and he just launched his own YouTube channel and website. The forty-something entrepreneur said ‘influencer’ is now his full-time job.
Dr. Rapeerat reminisced about the beginning of his influencer life. “At that time, I was still working as a Managing Director in a company and had almost finished my Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) studies at the AIT School of Management. I heard people talk about the disadvantages of being a regular salary earner in the workplace, and some influencers would encourage people to stop being employees and start their own business. But in my opinion, being an employee is a fair choice, and has an important role in the overall economy. I realized that I needed to present a perspective about being employed and to change the attitude of people who are unhappy with their employment. But I am a no-name. How could I relay my thoughts to others? It seemed impossible for me to become an influencer, but I had nothing to lose. So, no need to be afraid to try, I thought. I started and learned from my mistakes and tried to find the right way to become a social media influencer.”
Twenty years ago, Dr. Rapeerat was himself an engineer at a company. His boss at the time was a whip smart man from Nepal, and an AIT alumnus. Determined to follow in his boss’s footsteps, Dr. Rapeerat applied for a place in the Master’s of Engineering in Electric Power System Management program within the School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD). Believing that a wider spectrum of knowledge could advance his career, he returned to AIT to pursue a Master’s degree in Executive MBA at the School of Management (SOM).
“I entered SOM with an open mind and I learned so many things that I never knew before. Faculty members and classmates all had business experience, and they taught me a lot. We have been keeping in touch since 2004. Not only did I earn my second master’s degree, but my vision was broadened and the experience I gained allowed me to get out of my ‘little bubble.’ I learned about personnel management and discovered how to solve problems. Still, I wanted to learn more, so I decided to start pursuing the highest level of management education with a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) at SOM. It took me almost eight years to finish my Ph.D., but it was worth it,” Dr. Rapeerat added.
He said AIT taught him to “never stop learning and never be afraid to try and see how things work out.” This has become his personal life philosophy. With 3 degrees earned from AIT, he has eliminated his fear and has built faith in his abilities, learning from failures and continuing to push himself towards success. Today, he is not only working as a social media influencer, but he is also making use of his knowledge and his 20-year experience in engineering and management and is branching out as a business consultant, public speaker and a university lecturer.