Exploring Global Tech Experiences with True Digital Group’s Female Strategist “Pathiya Todhanakasem”

11 April 2024

In the constantly evolving world of technology, the topic of “Women in Tech” holds considerable significance and continues to garner widespread discussion. Over the years, women have become more involved in the technology industry, including ascending to high-level positions with decision-making authority. However, in some organizations, women still find it difficult to achieve such status.


That is not the case at True Digital Group (TDG), the digital technology and innovation arm of True Corporation. From its inception, TDG has prioritized diversity in its workforce. One of its early members, Pathiya Todhanakasem, continues to be the driving force behind TDG’s initiatives in her current position of Head of Digital Growth Strategy.

Discovering Her Passion

Pathiya grew up in a cross-cultural environment. She was awarded the ASEAN Scholarship by the Singaporean government to pursue her secondary school education at a leading local school in Singapore. Afterwards, Pathiya spent a short period of time in a high school in Melbourne, Australia.


To stay closer to her family, Pathiya decided to return to Thailand to pursue her undergraduate studies at the age of just 16. She attended Chulalongkorn University, majoring in Business Administration (BBA). The decision to study business was inspired by her parents – Prof. Dr. Warapatr, and Kittiya Todhanakasem – both of whom are Thailand’s renowned business executives.


After graduating from Chulalongkorn with a first-class honors degree at the age of just 20, she applied and was granted a Master’s degree scholarship from a leading financial institution, where she gained valuable work experiences. As a first jobber there, she soon realized that a career in banking did not quite align with her passions. After careful consideration, she decided to forego the scholarship, allowing her to broaden horizons in other fields.


Despite her limited work experience at the time, Pathiya tried applying to top universities in the United States. Fortunately, she was accepted into the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at Harvard Business School (HBS).


Surrounded by a cohort of 900 students from all over the world, Pathiya was one of the youngest in class with minimal work experience. The Harvard case method, which emphasized heavy class participation and discussion, posed a challenge for her. Initially, she was hesitant to speak up, but gradually adjusted to this learning approach. This interactive learning style allowed her to gain essential insights into the real business world from both professors and classmates.

The Starting Point of a Career in Tech

Her time at Harvard coincided with the rise of many new tech startups. Coupled with her fondness for electronic gadgets since childhood, she discovered her career interest in the industry. In her second year at HBS, one of the world’s tech giants – Samsung – was in search of global talents from top business schools in the United States and Europe. In that year, Samsung hired nearly 40 MBA graduates – most of whom were male. Only 6 were female, among which Pathiya was the only Asian female and the youngest one. This was the starting point of her professional journey in tech as a Global Strategist (internal Consultant), at Samsung Electronics’ Global Strategy Group.


At Samsung, she was able to unleash her potential in the role of an in-house think tank. Based in Seoul, Pathiya travelled extensively across the globe to work closely with Samsung’s C-suite executives. Her responsibility was to help them solve business problems in various aspects such as organizational design, marketing/branding, or business expansion. Working at Samsung broadened her view of the technology world and honed her abilities in terms of strategic thinking and business acumen.


In 2015, Pathiya was contacted by Apple Inc. to oversee the Apple App Store business in the Southeast Asia market. She was the first Thai person of this newly established regional team. During that time, the mobile apps and games ecosystem in the region was growing, with the emergence of various unicorn players like Grab and Garena. Her stint at Apple helped her to gain a deeper understanding of the apps business models, as she had the opportunity to work with a myriad of startups from small independent developers to big publishing companies. Importantly, being part of a world-class company like Apple taught her to adopt an outside-in customer centric approach, having witnessed customer touch points that were so meticulously thought through and tested to ensure a best-in-class experience.


As time passed, Pathiya realized that she had already spent one third of her life overseas, and it was time to “come home” to prioritize what had always mattered to her. That meant spending more time with her family and taking care of her parents.

True Corporation was at that time forming TDG to expand its businesses beyond its core telecom operations. Founded in 2017 during the digital boom, TDG set its sight to serve the country as a “digital enabler”, transforming True from traditional telecom services to digital offerings. To achieve that, talent was a key starter, and Pathiya was one of the diverse pool of individuals selected.


From then till now, it is close to seven years that Pathiya has been with TDG in various positions ranging from strategy, investments, and digital transformation. Today, she is serving as the Head of Digital Growth Strategy, as part of TDG’s endeavor to address customer needs and make a positive impact on consumers, partners and society at large.

Women in Tech

At the mention of Women in Tech topic, Pathiya points out that Thailand has seen clear progress in promoting female participation the tech industry. More women are seen taking roles such as app developers and data scientists. However, when it comes to female at the leadership level, the representation may still be relatively low. At a recent tech forum that she participated in, Pathiya found that only two out of more than a dozen executive speakers were women. The number perhaps reflect that there could be more women in leadership positions in the industry.


According to a survey by Tech Talent Charter in 2023, it was found that 1 in 3 women in tech have plans to quit their jobs due to the challenges of balancing both motherhood and work responsibilities.


From Pathiya’s experience, top tech firms usually have policies to empower working women to achieve work-life balance without having to “sacrifice” their career advancement. For instance, financial support in egg freezing as part of family planning, or providing facilities such as breastfeeding rooms at work to promote gender equality.

Paying it Forward

From the life opportunities she has received, Pathiya recognizes the importance of paying it forward to others. She currently serves as a mentor sharing her knowledge and advice to undergraduate Chulalongkorn University students, much like she did for high-school students during her time working in Singapore.


Pathiya believes that the younger generation in Thailand has the potential to thrive at regional and even global levels. They have great ideas but may just need someone to listen to them and guide them towards their goals.


Aside from passing on “knowledge”, Pathiya believes “happiness” can also be passed on. In her spare time, she enjoys joining social activities, such as playing music and singing for the elderly or inmates.


When asked the question: what words of advice would you give to people who may not have similar opportunities in life?


Pathiya contemplated that we are all presented with different opportunities in life. By consistently exerting our best effort in areas we excel in and are passionate about, and by continually striving for self-improvement, we can create better opportunities for ourselves. Additionally, for those who are more fortunate, sharing and paying it forward will help to foster a more pleasant society for all.