In our next installment, we chatted with Ria software engineer, Chanida, about some of her experiences growing up in Thailand, life in the U.S., and why she feels Ria is not only a great place to work, but also an organization that puts you first.
Why did you come to the United States initially?
In Asian culture, getting an American or European education is considered prestigious. Plus, if you graduate from high school in the U.S., you don’t have to take an entrance exam. My dad also wanted me to improve my English so when I was 14, my dad sent me to the U.S. for high school to live with a host family.
Was there anything that immediately struck you as maybe odd, or just different, between Thai and American culture?
The first host family I stayed with, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had a daughter who was four or five years younger than me. She would raise her voice and had no qualms talking back to her mom. I remember being incredibly taken aback by that because in Thai culture, you would never speak to your parents in such a disrespectful tone.
Coming from Thailand to the U.S. as a teenager, what were some other culture shocks you experienced?
The food was such a shock for me. I remember being introduced to refried beans… and being like, “What is this…?” I still don’t like them to this day. I think I just appreciate the food in Thailand so much more now than I ever did when I was younger. I really miss being able to walk out at any time, day or night, and grab a bowl of noodles.
As kids, we all have certain careers we aspire to. What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor. My parents are doctors, my grandfather was a doctor. I even have a degree in Pre-Medicine with a minor in Computer Science. I realize now that the only reason I pursued medicine is because my parents were doctors. It wasn’t until my junior year of college, when I was introduced to computer programming, that I realized medicine wasn’t for me.
And here we are! You’re now a software engineer for Ria Money Transfer. Mind explaining what that means?
When I tell people that I’m a software engineer, I often get responses like, “Oh, so you build computers!”, and just roll with that because it’s not always an easy job to explain. As a web developer, I get to create web applications which help Ria customers use our website.
Makes sense to me. What is something that most people don’t know about you?
My go-to fact is always that I’m under 5 feet tall. I mean, when you meet me, it’s pretty obvious that I’m not exactly the tallest person in the room but I’m actually 4’10 and three-quarters. And those three-quarters matter! Being this short, I like to make myself known and make sure people know I’m here so they don’t step on me. I like to think that what I lack in height, I make up with personality.
I think we all can agree with that. Now, for a little fun. If you were stuck living your life as one type of food, what would that be?
I would be a durian which is a fruit with an incredibly spikey shell. Durians also smell terrible. So, this tough exterior, coupled with that horrible smell, often warns people to stay away. But when you actually eat the meat, it’s so delicious. You just need to take the time to get to know the durian before you can eat it.
Thankfully for all of us, you’re not a durian in the office. Speaking of the office, why do you like working at Ria?
It’s refreshing to work for a company that allows me to be a working mom. I have a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old, which means life can be unpredictable. If something comes up with my kids, everyone here is very supportive and understanding. I also like that I get pushed and challenged to create solutions that make life easier for our customers. It’s the ideal balance, working hard and getting to have a life outside of work.
You mentioned that you get to create solutions that make life easier for Ria customers. Why do you think that’s important?
We’re helping people move their hard-earned money across the globe daily. It’s important that we understand what our customers need and keep them in the forefront of our minds. Making sure customers have a good experience, that their information is secure, that they trust us… these things are essential in this industry.