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Learning by doing

Without an IT degree, Araya Nokhong has forged a successful career and company in the fast-moving cut-throat software world.

Learning by doing

Armed with a first-class honours degree and a gold medal in international business from Chulalongkorn University, life should be easy for Araya Nokhong. She could get a good job with a top company.

But the 27-year-old refused to do so. She did not want a nine-to-five life. What she dreamt about was her own business and to work in a field she loves.

Starting up her own company is what she did.

Araya is vice president of Starwood High Solution, a software company.

"It's mixes my area of knowledge and my love of information technology; it's an IT business," says Araya. She not only manages the company but develops software for human resources.

The young executive and software developer said her interest in IT developed as an undergraduate. She took time after class to read computer textbooks and took an extra course in system engineering.

"I liked logic and studying math since I was young. When I tried to write computer software, it became a challenge - and fun more than complicated," she said.

But in real work life, everything is not so easy.

Araya and her fianc, Thepyothin Nokhong, started the company in 2003 when she was only 23. The first month was a nightmare.

With just five staff, she had to do almost everything herself - from writing software programs to testing and implementing them. She found customers and presented products and installed them.

Araya earned valuable experience from this. "I have to thank that time because, if I didn't do it, I might not understand what customers want. I would never know whether what we think or create works," she says.

Not having a degree in IT made it a little uncomfortable working with those that did.

"At first, I was worried my crew might ask why I was in control when I didn't understand their jobs."

But, then she discovered the secret of winning their hearts. "Being an administrator doesn't means you can't make mistakes or know everything in the world. Administrators can do wrong. But when you do, you have to accept responsibility," she said.

Araya and Starwood developed software called Argento HRM. It was released after two years in development. Before that it was developing software for others.

"The first five years is getting experience and developing software. The company almost didn't make a profit. The first years, you have to bear in mind, are an investment," Araya says.

Though Araya struggled she never gave up.

"It depends on how much we keep and learn from what we have been through. If we didn't learn things in the past we won't learn things in the future," Araya says.


Suwicha Chanitnun

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