Growing up in Vientiane, Laos, Thanyalat Chaleunsouk always had a passion for learning. “If you discover yourself early, pursue study in what you are passionate about, and work in the field you know, you will be rewarded”
This passion led her to study in Australia and in 2006 Thanyalat graduated with a Bachelor of Information Technology from the University of Technology Sydney. Today, Thanyalat is the Managing Director and Co-founder of the leading food delivery company in Laos.
But the path to success has not been an easy one. Learning English was a major challenge and a lack of resources sometimes led her to fall behind at school. Thanyalat remembers seeing a computer for the first time in high school and recalls how she was inspired to learn coding and focus on information technology.
Being granted a scholarship to study IT in Australia was a major achievement. However, Thanyalat had a serious obstacle – she did not own a computer. Arriving in Sydney, Thanyalat set about to buy all the parts and build her first computer from scratch!
“Coming from Laos, I knew I had to work twice as hard as my peers in Australia. My passion for learning helped fuel my spirits and by my 3rd year at university I became a tutor and even worked as a teaching assistant for some subjects. Studying in Australia was a significant turning point in my life. The experience of living alone and fending for myself helped to build my character and I learnt important problem-solving and interpersonal skills’’ said Thanyalat.
Living in Australia provided many opportunities for Thanyalat and she enjoyed spending study breaks travelling to different cities and participating in a range of student clubs.
Returning to Laos, Thanyalat worked in several roles in the private and public sector and completed her master’s degree as a Fulbright scholar in the USA.
Then in 2018, Thanyalat decided to quit her job to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
Coincidently, the global delivery company, Foodpanda, was looking for ways to expand their business into Laos. Thanyalat created a business proposal, drawing on her experiences in Laos, Australia and the USA, and was offered the role of their first Managing Director in Laos
Foodpanda launched in Laos just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Despite the challenges, Thanyalat’s efforts to introduce home delivery for food in Laos has helped the local economy and supported local business during these difficult times. Many local businesses have benefited from being able to remain open and move to a home delivery model during lockdowns.
As Managing Director, Thanyalat has worked closely with the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control to continue operations despite the pandemic. They have also supported local food charities, donated to hospitals, and allocated funding for youth education at a local and provincial level as part of Food Panda’s Corporate Social Responsibility campaign.
“I’ve witnessed the tremendous growth of the food delivery industry over the past 2 years, and I am very proud to be able to use my skills and education to provide opportunities to many thousands of vendors across Laos with our nationwide coverage of all 18 provinces.”
From high school in Vientiane, to university in Australia and later in the USA, Thanyalat is now a successful Lao business leader, making a significant impact to her local community through creating job opportunities and helping local businesses to continue trading during the pandemic.