KAB-IFP provided Wasita Thongdee with valuable knowledge and contacts
Wasita Thongdee is one of sixteen outstanding students who has participated in the K-A Bonnier International Fellows Program (KAB-IFP). Her years in Sweden and Singapore gave her friends for life and a double master’s degree from two reputable business schools. Today, she is managing a small domestic accessory brand based in Thailand.
KAB-IFP is a scholarship program with an aim to strengthen the long-term business relations between the Nordic countries and Southeast Asia. It provides exceptionally talented students with the knowledge and tools required to succeed in an entrepreneurial environment. In two years, the fellows are given the opportunity to obtain two master’s degrees from two of the world’s leading business schools, the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) and the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Wasita was part of the foundation’s first KAB-IFP cohort, between 2017–2019. She was born and raised in Thailand and was attracted by the idea of studying in Sweden and experiencing student life in two very different countries.
– I really wanted to live in Stockholm and study at the School of Economics, so that was the main reason why I applied. The fact that I also got a chance to live in Singapore, study under several distinguished professors and build a network of students from different countries and backgrounds was really a bonus, says Wasita.
When we talk to Wasita, she has just visited Sweden for the first time since she finished her studies. The planned visit and graduation ceremony in April 2020 was postponed due to the pandemic. Now, two years later than planned, she finally got to come back and meet her friends in Stockholm.
– The best part about KAB-IFP was definitely the close friendship I built with the other fellows in my cohort. We supported each other both in and out of school and still keep in touch regularly and see each other whenever we can, says Wasita.
During her year at SSE, Wasita learned a lot about how to analyze and challenge existing theories, how theories are developed, and how to reflect and learn from prior experiences. At NUS, the professors focused more on teaching theories that the students applied to hands-on projects such as real-life business cases or invented business plans.
– Apart from the knowledge and the degrees I have obtained, which has affected me to perform better professionally, I have picked up quite a few other positive traits. During my time in Stockholm and Singapore, I learned a lot about the cultures and mindsets of the locals. This has shaped me to become who I am today, continues Wasita.
After graduation, Wasita returned to Thailand with a plan to explore the opportunities to start an accessory brand focusing on handbags made from locally crafted materials. She worked one year as international business manager at one of the largest conglomerates in Thailand, before she dared to pursue with her dream.
– Today I am managing a small domestic accessory brand focusing on jewelry and accessories made by local crafters. We don’t yet produce handbags, but I get to work with the areas I enjoy – to create and control brand identity, develop concepts, new products and sales campaigns, and much more, says Wasita.
Looking ahead, Wasita wants to expand her business and grow with international partners and clients. Hopefully, her company will someday bring her back to Sweden.
– It is my dream to live in Stockholm again! If plans work out, the company might be able to establish offices somewhere abroad in the future. Since I have a big love for Stockholm and the Nordics, and we have a big client who is based near Stockholm and in Finland, I might be able to manage to live partially in Stockholm again, concludes Wasita.