Board Director, Kasikornbank Public Company
Born in Thailand but educated in Western finance practices at MIT Sloan, Bao Lamsam had the ideal background to help rebuild Thailand's economy after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Working in San Francisco after her graduation from MIT Sloan, Lamsam felt isolated from the financial services industry in New York City; however, when an opportunity arose to return to Thailand and bring financial stability to her homeland, her strong grounding in global market systems ensured her success.
Lamsam had entered MIT Sloan in 1985 to study financial systems and principles. She was drawn to the opportunity to study with an impressive finance faculty that was defining the field of financial services. Faculty members at the time included Robert Merton, the first to publish a paper on the Black-Scholes Options Model, and John C. Cox, one of the inventors of the Cox-Ingersoll-Ross model on interest rates.
After her first year at the School, Lamsam worked as a summer associate at Goldman Sachs in New York. Although the city was the heart of finance at the time, after graduation, Lamsam relocated to San Francisco to work in a more sales-centered role at Bain & Company, which put her in a unique position to work in financial services in her country of origin.
When the Asian financial crisis of 1997 struck, Lamsam was asked to join Newbridge Capital, a $550 million Asian emerging market fund. As an advisor to the fund, she was responsible for screening and evaluating direct investment opportunities in Thailand, which included her involvement in the bid for a $1.5 billion portfolio of distressed assets. “It was a great opportunity to get back to Asia,” she says. “I was able to bring my knowledge of Western financial methods and combine it with my knowledge and familiarity with Thailand.”
Lamsam attributes her success to what she learned while at MIT Sloan. “We've created these very sophisticated systems that govern finance, and many of the people operating them don't understand how to use them or the risk that comes with that,” she explains. “Financial crises demonstrate the importance of understanding these systems, and an education at MIT Sloan does just that. It gave me the tools to innovate and manage.”
In 1998 Lamsam joined the board of directors of Kasikornbank Public Company, Thailand's third-largest commercial bank at the time. The condition of the bank during the financial crisis enabled Lamsam and the other directors to take a more operational role in the business, dealing with governance issues, raising capital both domestically and abroad, and cleaning up the bank's balance sheet. Lamsam led Kasikornbank through the crisis and has remained with the company ever since. Currently, she lives with her husband and three children in Palo Alto, California, and travels to Asia every other month for work.
Lamsam's experience in Thailand has strengthened her appreciation for management education. When markets worldwide are faced with periods of financial uncertainty, Lamsam is confident that MIT Sloan graduates and faculty will be integral to their resolution. “An MIT Sloan education provided me with a very rigorous and technical understanding of finance,” she explains. “There is value in this knowledge, which is exactly what the motto ‘mans et manus' embodies.” Deeply grateful for her education, Lamsam devotes much of her time to supporting the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, an organization that provides students of the highest academic ability with advanced educational opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible. Lamsam serves as an advisor to the program as it reaches out internationally, enabling children around the globe to attain the knowledge needed to impact their world.