Pitichoke Chulapamornsri (MPP ’17) is the current KSSG student body president. Born in Thailand, Pitichoke worked at Goldman Sachs as an analyst in the Private Equity Group, a fund of funds with exposure to over 500 managers and 10,000 underlying companies before the Kennedy School. He also served under the Thai Minister of Finance, Mr. Korn Chatikavanij as a policy analyst.
The Citizen recently got a chance to sit down with Pitichoke and talk about his HKS experience.
Citizen: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Pitichoke: I’m originally from Thailand. I moved to the US when I was 14 and went to the University of Washington in Seattle. I studied accounting and finance and worked in finance for three years before coming to HKS. I also worked for a member of parliament in Thailand, the Minister of Finance. I was looking at various ways to alleviate poverty. At HKS I’m involved with Innovation Lab and I’m working on various social enterprises.
Citizen: What are some of your highlights from your time at HKS?
Pitichoke: One of my highlights is being on KSSG for both years. My first year, I was the VP of Finance, where I was lucky enough to work with all of the student groups. I got a glimpse into the breadth and depth of student groups here. This year, as the President, I was fortunate to work on a few important initiatives – from having more bike racks, to having more cell phone chargers, to bigger things like re-examining the bidding process. Also, I worked on newer initiatives like HKS Talks because at HKS, while the curriculum and professors are great, what makes it an amazing experience is my amazing classmates. They are such an important asset and we should continue to systematically get to know other people.
In addition, I pushed to enhance the student picture books. Previously, we could search for students by year and program name, which isn’t that helpful. With the new Picture Book, we can search students based on their home countries. So if I’m going to travel to France, and I don’t have any French friends, I can now find a network to connect with while I’m there. I can even search for people by companies and I can reach out to people who work at places I hope to work at.
Ciizen: Tell us about your start-up.
PItichoke: I’m involved with two start-ups. The first year, I started a company called Happy Farmers. It’s a social enterprise that connects local farmers with consumers. The project started at Harvard by Thai students and the operation is in Thailand. The inspiration came from the idea that while 40% of the Thai population consists of farmers, they only contribute to about 8% of the GDP. I wanted to see how Thai farmers can earn more money from their work. The biggest problem is that the products go through 8-12 people by the time the product gets to stores. Happy Farmers aims to shorten the “middle man” process and help produce be sold directly to consumers.
Citizen: What are your plans post HKS?
I’m still figuring it out, but I’m passionate about making a positive impact. I’m not sure how I want to do that, but I am interested in technology and how technology can be a solution to a lot of the globe’s problems.
Citizen: What advice do you have for HKS students entering their second year or new studetns coming to HKS?
Pitichoke: Invest in your relationships with your peers at HKS. Classes are great, readings are important, but what will be most important are the friendship you have forged here. I’ve had the great privilege to travel extensively for travel break and winter break, and each country I visit allows me to reconnect with people whom I’ve crossed paths with at the Kennedy School. I would advise students to not be shy about traveling all across the globe! Invite people to coffee, invite people to lunch, take advantage of the numerous assets here at HKS!