>> Pipat Yodprudtikan : ThaiURL.com - Unorthodox career path
  ThaiURL.com founder Pipat Yodprudtikan - a pioneer in the local IT scene - now focuses on Buddhist economics and His Majesty's sufficiency economy

Pipat Yodprudtikan, founder and chief executive officer of ThaiURL.com, is a successful businessman in the extremely modern information technology industry. He rose through various fields of academic study, buoyed by capitalist ideals, until one day in 2001, he decided to commit a large part of his life to Buddhism.

Pipat YodprudtikanNow, while continuing to manage his business, he strives to spread an understanding of sufficiency economy and Buddhist economics as well as trying to put right some of the social damage he feels is done by businesses in their single-minded quest for profits.

Before he became a "dot.com" pioneer, providing Thai URL (uniform resource locator) services, Pipat's younger life was typical of many kids springing from a good educational background.

As a young student from Hua Hin, he was sent to study at Triam Udom Suksa School, from Mathayom-4 level. Later he gained both bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Kasetsart University.

After graduating he worked for five years as an electrical engineer in instrumentation and automation systems. The new fields of electronic commerce and information technology were booming and he admits unashamedly that he fell in love with IT and became infatuated with business. So he went back to his studies, this time seeking a master's degree in management information systems at Chulalongkorn University.

It was his turning point, from electrical engineering to information technology. He joined a company called IT Net, overseeing IT-related business developments. Then he moved to Accenture, a large consulting, technology and outsourcing company. Finally, he decided to take the risk of leaving a job with a big salary to become an IT entrepreneur.

"During this period, I got a lot of valuable experience in business sense, and learned how IT companies design their business plans, how they think, and how IT can apply in business," Pipat says.

He formed his own company, Thai URL, in 1999, to provide a local-language URL service. The company was soon recognised for its pioneering products and services and has played an important role in the Internet field.

"At that time, domain names in Thai were a very new thing. We jumped into this area with the first movers, with the aim of encouraging Thai businesses to gain the advantages of Internet technology. At that time, the Internet and dot.coms were booming. Many new local companies headed into e-commerce and created portal sites. But we focused on the Thai URL business instead. It was solid business," Pipat says.

The company joined the Internet Engineering Task Force and took part in drafting standards for local domains with row-based ASCII compatible encoding. It initiated and played significant roles in many schemes, such as taking part in formulating ISO/IEC standards for very small enterprise software development.

Pipat was enjoying his business success as well as the popularity of the Internet and IT.

Then, one day in 2001, as he was walking in Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, his mind was turned from the joys of business success to closed introspection, and a search for peace within his spirit.

"I went there for some purpose," Pipat recalls. "But it was destiny when a senior priest came to me and asked me to join studies for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Buddhist studies. He told me that was the first year in which the course was welcoming non-monks. I don't know how my feelings came. I decided to apply for the course immediately, on the final day of applications."

After studying at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University's graduate school, his mind was at peace. He felt that his business - or "busy-ness", as it then seemed - was somehow at odds with the Buddhist goal of inner peace. The main characteristic of business, after all, was to create material wealth, and the effort was usually unending. He developed new thoughts about business.

"The current business environment is influenced too much by capitalism, with the effect that people think only of themselves and of how to maximise profits without concern for social responsibility. And the quest to maximise profits usually comes at a cost to others," he says.

His new philosophy led Pipat to establish the Thai Pat Institute, a non-profit organisation, to promote public awareness of sufficiency economy. In part, it was a move by Pipat and his friends to develop a framework to prevent social damage by business interests.

He applied the principles of Buddhism to his business and developed more and more concern for society and people. His interest in Buddhism and sufficiency economy led to his thesis topic, "The Use of the Process of Construction of Indicators in Comparing Sufficiency Economy and Buddhist Economics".

He says the study attempts to compare His Majesty the King's philosophy of sufficiency economy and Buddhist economics. This is then used to construct indicators for identifying levels of sufficiency economy, based on Buddhist economics. It also seeks to develop guidelines for applying the indicators by using literature research within the framework of the four economic theories of production, consumption, utility and distribution.

The study also provides guidelines on how the indicators can be applied to individuals, households, firms, communities and countries, in the form of various indexes, such as the quadrant index for individual development, a consumptivity index for household consumption, a productivity index for companies - and notations on the use of gross national happiness and gross domestic product as indicators for national economies.

Now that Pipat has completed his doctoral degree, his work in developing and promoting awareness of sufficiency economy and Buddhist economics continues. His latest achievement is the development of a sufficiency strategy map and a sufficiency alignment index.

Recently, his company was invited by the United Nations Development Programme to present a paper on human development in Thailand in 2007 with the topic, "A Model for a Sufficiency Economy Business Tool". The UN agency plans to publish it around the world.

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