Our people’s stories 18 May 2023

“Not Just Done, But Perfectly Done.” Bluebik’s Ex-Associate Director Milley’s Lesson Learned and Her Journey to Duke’s MBA

“There are two types of people in this world: those who see an opportunity and think they can’t do it and those who see an opportunity and try everything they can to make it happen. I’m the second type.”

Anyone who knows “Miley” or “Prattana Chatjaroenporn” would agree with the statement above, as this lively, spirited woman has proven herself to be exactly what she said.

From the starting point as a Senior Consultant within Bluebik’s Management Consulting & Strategy unit, Miley endeavored to become the Consulting Manager in the same team and the Manager of the CEO office in just a few years before finishing off her Bluebik years with the Associate Director position. 

As an MBA student at Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, a “hidden ivy league” known to create impactful leaders, we ask Miley to reflect on her Bluebik experience and share how Bluebik helped her become the leader she is today.

A consultant’s dream

Since graduation, Miley was determined to become a management consultant as she had interned and worked part-time as one before. She landed her dream job in no time, then, after a year, an HR officer from Bluebik contacted her. Miley was immediately drawn to Bluebik for the company’s focus on digital and innovation, which was different from her workplace at the time.

The moment the young consultant had the conversation with our CEO, “Boat” or “Pochara Arayakarnkul,” was when she knew Bluebik was her place.

“I didn’t do well on the interview case, but as Boat explained how he’d come up with a solution for this type of problem, I got the impression that he’s very smart from his knowledge and how he structured his thoughts. I thought to myself: if I worked here, I’d learn so much from him.

“Vibe was another important factor. When you talk to someone, you’d know whether you can work with them, and whether you’ll laugh at the same jokes. I felt Boat was open-minded and not hierarchical. He’s the type of CEO I’d have the courage to speak and work with. And he proved to be just that once I joined.”

Going above and beyond

The timing was just right when Miley started working at Bluebik. It was around the time we were asked to pitch one of the most monumental projects of the company’s history. Thus Miley was assigned with researching, laying out the strategy, as well as preparing for the pitch.

The timing was just right when Miley started working at Bluebik. It was around the time we were asked to pitch one of the most monumental projects in the company’s history. Thus Miley was assigned to research, lay out the strategy, and prepare for the presentation.

Although Bluebik was a small company at the time compared to other consulting firms who pitched for the same project, Bluebik went all out and sealed the deal.

Miley was one of a few who witnessed Bluebik’s culture in the making – going beyond standards.

“It’s essentially Boat. He pushed the team: if we wanted to win, we must go above and beyond. So we put in extra effort. We even went mystery shopping in our client’s competitor stores and made a deck on it. The client was very impressed because that was beyond what they initially expected from the pitch. I believe this was one of the key factors why we won.

“Therefore, one of the key takeaways from Bluebik for me is that don’t just get the work done, get it perfectly done.”

Seize it or leave it

After proving her worth with the pitch, Miley was promoted to consulting manager and led the big project.

In retrospect, Miley reflected that there was a moment when fear gripped her heart. “I was new to the company but was already assigned to lead a crucial project. It was both a challenge and an opportunity. There are two types of people in this world: those who see an opportunity and think they can’t do it and those who see an opportunity and try everything they can to make it happen. I’m the second type. And I have Boat to thank for his faith in me and guidance throughout.”

Try, learn, and discover your passion

After that, Miley was also involved in many projects that helped clients integrate their digital solutions with the UX journey, making the online and offline fuse together seamlessly. For some projects, Miley even developed new products for the clients. 

After working as a consulting manager for a while, Miley stumbled upon a pain point many consultants also face – the urge to do something by yourself.

“A consultant’s job was to lay out a strategy, but I wanted to try executing a project myself. At the time, Bluebik was about to go public, so I asked Boat to transfer me to the CEO’s office so I could help our beloved company become successful. Under Boat’s guidance, I was hands-on with every process, from strategy to execution. I also helped Boat find investors and partnerships; for example, for one of our joint ventures, I was there from day 1, helping with contract draft and KPIs development.” 

After trying her hands with execution, however, Miley decided to go back to strategizing. 

“In the end, I found out I like strategizing more than executing because I love to analyze, come up with new ideas, and talk to clients. I also prefer to have a finish line in sight. There was no finish line in execution, and it’s more for those who love to think on their feet.

“At the time, there was a new project with one of our existing clients, so I asked Boat to assign me to that as I have worked with them several times and know them inside out. That’s when I became the associate director.

Miley believed the opportunity to transfer internally to other units and the various projects had all played a role in her five successful years at Bluebik. “I started out as a consultant, but it was like I was both a consultant and an entrepreneur. I was there to help build our business units from the very start. I got to pitch big projects. I tried my hands at contract drafting. I even helped with recruitment. This made me a consultant who understood the clients or the business owners. It was one of the best things about working at Bluebik.”

MBA for the future

As a matter of fact, Miley had long planned to pursue an MBA degree. She clearly saw her future as an exceptional consultant and executive in leading companies, which required a higher level of education.

That’s why she started preparing for GMAT since she graduated with a bachelor’s degree and kept improving her score while simultaneously working as a management consultant. Anyone who works in this field would know that this was no easy task and demanded extreme determination.

“I clocked off work at 2-3 am; when would I study for the test? Anyone wishing to study MBA must have work experience. So you need to work and prepare for the test at the same time. That’s why many people quit their jobs to prepare for MBA applications. Sometimes I thought to myself: I could work and earn money. Why would I do this? It was a real test of will.” 

Miley strived and finally got a good GMAT score. She then prepared for the application to her one and only choice, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University.

“I like Fuqua because I’m a people person. I love people, and I love my team. And everyone at Fuqua gives out the same vibe. They’re very supportive, and it is widely known that if you reach out to a Fuqua, you’ll definitely get help. We call this spirit “Team Fuqua.” I know I’ll thrive within the same vibe, and I can tell from talking to alumni and students that they’re my people.”

“Career-wise, I chose Fuqua because I’m into technology, and they’re really good at tech. Location-wise, I prefer to live on the east coast, which is not very city-ish. Fuqua checked all the boxes – a place I want to live, a school where I’ll get a job I want.”  

Bluebik supports you all the way through

It’s common knowledge that essay questions for MBA applications are no easy feat. For Miley, however, it was easy because she had been practicing her storytelling skills at Bluebik. 

“Apart from a business strategy, you also need a storyline when preparing for proposals. It would be best if you pitched that in a way they wanted to hear. So for me, the essay questions were not difficult at all. I knew what the school wanted. I positioned myself as such and then told my story in a way they wanted to hear.”

And what kind of people the Fuqua School of Business was looking for?

“They’re looking for someone with DQ (Decency Quotient) and EQ. With your GMAT score, you already proved your IQ. So they looked for DQ and EQ because they knew their students would be leaders one day, and they wanted to create impactful, empathetic leaders.”

Of course, Miley’s experience working at Bluebik helped her tremendously with the essay questions. For example, one question asked, “Tell me 25 random things about yourself.” Miley selected answers (which, really, were not random at all) from her experience.

“I told them about my contribution to Bluebik’s IPO. I was proud that I’ve been in a key role. As one of the early employees, IPO made me think of how I can improve people and organizations. This answer helped them see that I was a well-rounded leader.

“I also told them about the social committee I founded and was the president of for the first year. It was my favorite initiative because it was a way to get everyone together and give back to the community. We went trash-picking at Bang Saen. This showed the school that I was involved in other activities aside from work as well.”

And as we know it today, Miley was accepted into her dream MBA program!

Prepare today, become a leader tomorrow

Miley is now finishing off the first year of a two-year program. Although she is inundated with assignments and group projects, every day is full of fun and new knowledge. 

“I studied economics for my bachelor’s degree, so MBA helps lay the foundation for my knowledge in business. Actually, working on one project at Bluebik is equivalent to an MBA program because you need to consider every aspect, from finance to marketing and operations. Coming here, I have the upper hand as I have so many experiences to share with my classmates.

“When I lead the group projects, I basically do what I did at Bluebik. I love to build a close-knit team where everyone wants to work together and support each other. This way, you won’t get stressed out when you work. The productivity is high, and everyone is keen to give each other direct feedback so that we can all improve ourselves.”

Aside from group projects, discussing in class is something Miley really enjoys as she gets to hear different perspectives from classmates from other parts of the world.

“Here, the professors don’t just give lectures. They have us read business cases and ask for our opinions. Sometimes they don’t even conclude anything. They tell us what happened and encourage us to share our thoughts. For example, in one class, we talked about emerging market strategy. Companies in the US can’t have subsidiaries, but this is possible in other countries. And a classmate from Korea shared with us how Samsung grew into the conglomerate it is today. I felt like I learned a lot from the cases and other people’s knowledge and worldviews. It’s super interesting.”

Strategize like a pro consultant

Lastly, Miley emphasized that she couldn’t be a role model for everyone, and suggested that you need to have a clear picture of your future in mind before planning out your life.

“If you want to be an entrepreneur, an MBA degree might not be necessary. You just need to start today. But I want to be an executive in leading companies, so an MBA degree is crucial. And before applying for an MBA, I needed work experience, and what other jobs could I do that exposed me to all aspects of running a business if not a management consultant. Because I see my future clearly, I can lay down the strategy for my life.”

For anyone reading this with a similar future in mind, Miley said, “If you want a place where you can learn and grow, along with living your life to the fullest, Bluebik is the place for you. A job with such a steep learning curve normally comes with so much pressure and stress, but here at Bluebik, we have a strong support system. Everyone’s willing to help. Boat’s always here to answer your questions. Working at Bluebik, I wasn’t stressed out at all and felt connected with all my colleagues. To this day, when I go back to Thailand, I always go see my Bluebik friends.”

If you want to be a part of something extraordinary, see available positions at https://bluebik.com/career and send us an email right away!