Doctorpreneurs: Dr Pleayo Tovaranonte
Doctorpreneurs of Doctology is pleased this week to showcase an interview with Dr Pleayo Tovaranonte.
Dr Pleayo Tovaranonte is a Clinician, General Practitioner, and a Managing Director of Rev3 Tech, a NZ-based technology company focusing on Augmented / Virtual Reality and Wearable Technology applications in the construction, medical, and healthcare industries.
He is also a consultant for BioExpert Network which provides evaluative feedback to a curated global network of life science, biotechnology, and investment professionals who request funding for innovative research and development projects.
He is a founder of "Beyond The Stethoscope (BTS)", a charity aiming to assist junior doctors towards their overseas voluntary work in developing countries. With his multi-lingual abilities, he is a volunteer for Translators Without Borders, helping NGO projects at the intersection of public health and human rights in various parts of the world."
What organisation / startup did you found?
I have co-founded a number of companies and organisations:
Rev3 Tech is a NZ company engaging Augmented / Virtual Reality (AR / VR) technology to assist projects in construction, real estate, education, simulation, and medical industries. www.rev3tech.co.nz
Med-IT-Aid is a consultancy company offering services to facilitate integration of information technology, bioinformatics, robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual / Augmented Reality (AR / VR), and pharmacogenomics into traditional healthcare practices.
Beyond The Stethoscope (BTS) is a not-for-profit organisation enabling skill diversification among fellow doctors to enhance work-life balance, promote non-clinical careers, and encourage volunteering in less developed countries. We offer news, career advice, and financial assistance for voluntary work overseas. www.bts.org.nz
What is its noble purpose?
There are several facets each organisation above tries to achieve. Generally, there are three common goals which align my passion with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Goal 3: Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages.
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?
I was born in Bangkok to the medical family. My dad is a surgeon, my auntie is a nurse, and two of my cousins are a dentist and a pharmacist. I went to a primary school in Chitralada Palace where my father used to serve as a doctor of the Thai Royal Family.
I was brought up with conservative values – excellence in the academia, paying respect to elders, patience, and perseverance. I showed some talent in drama / music at school and was approached by a casting director to perform in several live theatres, musicals, a movie, and 3 TV series.
My junior acting career ended when my sister and I were later sent to boarding schools in Christchurch, New Zealand to learn English and further our studies.
What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it?
My first paying job in my hometown was as an actor as said above. My first job in an English-speaking country was when I was in high school aged 15. I was a "runner" assisting guest speakers and delegates for conferences.
I also had a second job as a boiler operator for the Hall of Residence where I was staying which involved waking up at 5am every morning, shoveling out ash, putting in new firewood, washing all the bath mats, and making sure the water was hot enough for everyone to have a shower.
What made you want to be a Doctor and what speciality did you choose?
My father who is a cardiothoracic surgeon is my true inspiration. He worked hard, long hours, and at time without pay to save lives of many children and young adults with congenital cardiac abnormalities. As a result, I did not get to spend as much time with him when I grew up but I looked up to him as a role model.
I have chosen to be a generalist because I like all specialties and I could not settle with one, but more importantly, General Practice (Family Medicine) has given me the ability to follow patients from their infancy to adulthood thus becoming part of their "family". It feels much more rewarding when my patients all know me by my first name; unlike working in a hospital when most of the time you feel like you are just a "cog in the wheel".
General Practice also gave me time to explore my other areas of specialty interests such as Aviation Medicine, Sports Medicine, and Health Services Management where I received my postgraduate diplomas in years 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively.
What made you want to be an Entrepreneur? When exactly did you decide?
The possibility of working for yourself at your own pace from anywhere in the world has attracted me into the entrepreneurial world. I started it at a very young age when I was in primary school selling hand-made cartoon stickers from cut-out comic books to my friends, then in high school when I compiled my study notes as exam preps and sole them to my peers.
Each dollar received was matched and given to the Bone Marrow Transplant Trust. At University, I have turned my academic notes into a Wikipedia-style web-page so other students can share, contribute, and pass on their knowledge. I also organised a few fund-raising functions for the University Students’ association.
Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes do you intend to stop if your organisation takes off?
Yes, I spend approximately 20 hours a week practising as a GP. I would still continue working as a doctor even if I won a lottery (not that I buy any!) because the reward I get from working as a doctor is true bliss. It is more satisfying to see big smiles on patients’ faces compared to receiving any extra financial gains.
Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship?
We never get taught entrepreneurship specifically at the Medical School. Generally, we were spoon-fed the knowledge that has been passed on over generations. There has been no room for "thinking outside the box" or "disrupting the tradition" without major consequences.
Often the environment that doctors work in, especially in big governmental institutions, is heavily regulated and laid with rules or constraints. Some people fall into entrepreneurship out of their boredom, dissatisfaction of their career, long working hours, mental health issues, or a desire to become autonomous.
What is your favourite quote?
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail". – Benjamin Franklin.
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
I would find the greatest and brightest group of scientists and philanthropists to come up with an anti-virus (provided that we could prove that a Zombie is caused by a virus, of course!) or a vaccine to prevent human beings from acquiring the infection in the first place and would distribute them globally by auto-piloted drones.