Sommai Phasee
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Sommai Phasee

Showing the new face of Asia

Deputy permanent secretary, Thai ministry of finance

After winning a scholarship to study for a masters degree in economic planning and development in the US, Sommai Phasee admits to spending much of his savings, and all his spare time, travelling across America. This "happy time" gave him the international perspective that has helped to propel him to one of the most senior posts in the Thai bureaucracy.

Apart from his year in the US, the ministry of finance's deputy permanent secretary is very much a product of the traditional Thai civil-service career route. He graduated with bachelor's and master's degree from the prestigious Thammasat University in Bangkok and then joined the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) as a junior economist.

He attributes much of his subsequent success to this grounding, and places particular emphasis on working with a number of well-respected businessmen early on in his career. These included the then director of his division, Snoh Unakul, who was formerly a governor of the Bank of Thailand before becoming secretary-general of the NESDB. The turning point in Sommai's fast-track career, however, was winning a scholarship at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee.

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