Pearada Cheepsatayakorn: Storytelling is My Passion

Originally from Thailand, Pearada Cheepsatayakorn, 2016 graduate of the M.S. in Communications Practice program (now known as the M.S. in Strategic Communication program), wanted to come to Columbia and New York City to expand her opportunities in the marketing and communications industry. A skilled illustrator as well as a marketing strategist, she spoke with Columbia SPS about the sketches she creates, the knowledge she gained from Columbia, and her broader aspirations.

What were you doing before you enrolled in the program?

I studied architecture as an undergraduate, so I have visual and analytical skills, but I didn’t have a formal academic background in communications at all. I worked at J. Walter Thompson back in Bangkok for about four years. I started out as an Account Executive for regional accounts.

I don’t know if Columbia brought me to New York City, or if New York City brought me to Columbia. It was both. New York City is the capital for communications, media, and advertising. And at Columbia, I was able to develop some of the skills that I didn’t get the chance to learn at JWT.


Too busy to sketch, too nice out not to! #pearadastyle

A photo posted by Pearada (@pearadastyle) on


How did you become interested in communications?

Architecture and advertising are similar in terms of storytelling. In architecture, the idea is to study your client’s needs and creating a design. In communications, instead of making a building, you build a campaign instead. I left architecture because I hated construction – but I still loved the conceptual thinking and the analysis part of it.

Storytelling is my passion. Kind of like in architecture, [communications] strategy is about finding the right concept to talk to the consumer and creating a plan based on that.


Columbia University #pearadastyle

A photo posted by Pearada (@pearadastyle) on


How does illustration fit into your career?

Illustration and visuals are a big part of communication. When I was at JWT, when I wanted to communicate with the creatives, for example, I sketched out ideas to make sure that we had the same image in our minds.

Illustration is more of a fun side project. Now that I’m here in New York City where everything is new to me, I love learning about the culture and looking beyond tourist destinations. My favorite way to capture the moment is to sketch.


Overlooking Manhattan #pearadastyle

A photo posted by Pearada (@pearadastyle) on


What has been most valuable for you in the program, in terms of gaining skills for your career?

One thing I learned from my Portfolio Project was that you have to back up your ideas with numbers. In communications, you would think that it's about creativity and how to communicate with people in an interesting way. But data is really important as well. That would be the biggest thing I gained from the program – quantitative skills. You have to know how to read data and statistics.

I have visual [branding] and creative skills from architecture school, and now I have a really strong quantitative side from this program. I'm now much more confident about going back into the industry.


Illustrations above by Pearada Cheepsatayakorn. Used by permission.