Gazing across Pathmazing’s office for the first time, one can only be surprised at the youth of its team of “tech wizards” designing state-of-the-art applications, games and web utilities for the global market. While the average staff age is 25 years old, Mr. Steven Path, creator and CEO of Pathmazing, says his young Khmer team are as skilled as any in the world.
The creation of the Cambodian Pathmazing office in 2008 represented a new business venture and a homecoming. Born in Cambodia, Path left at the age of seven and spent his former life based in the USA. For 25 years, Pathmazing has had offices in the US, and now Kuala Lumpur and Phnom Penh; but Path is happier than ever to be home to stay.
The tech talent pool in Cambodia is special, says Path: “These young professionals work harder than any; they crave job security and grab opportunities with both hands.” Most importantly, though, Cambodian tech graduates’ coding and design skills are world class.
Path notes his Cambodian staff are superior team members to his American employees, whom he comments can struggle to find a balance between individualism and co-operation.
In Cambodia, Path sees desire: “They are more than smart enough to work abroad in other major technologies markets, and likely make more money; but they don’t want to. They want to be close to family and they genuinely want to make Cambodia great, and so do I.”
However, the average American tech professional usually offers more specific experience and has had industry mentoring. Innovation and critical thinking develops with their understanding of the wider dynamics of the global market.
Technologies education, thus, needs to be supplemented with continued staff training and the creation of work environments that suppress traditional Cambodian hesitations to avoid confrontation and failure by not offering conflicting ideas or challenging hierarchy; “In the IT industry, you must be prepared to be wrong. This is how all new ideas and technology is born.”
Path says, however, the domestic demand lag for technologies innovation within Cambodia is only natural. Six years ago, the Internet was very expensive and hard to access in Cambodia. Few had, or could afford, smartphones. In the last two years, 3G has become widely available and the market has flooded with tablets and smartphones.
Still, though, the current internet demographics, and general understandings of application technologies’ utility to business in Cambodia, are not sufficiently widespread for the majority of Cambodian businesses to legitimize the cost and time involved with application development.
Path firmly believes that as this value assessment of tech utilities changes in the near future, the potential of the domestic Cambodian technologies market is immense. The raw talent is here already, the infrastructure is expanding exponentially, and a young generation is waiting to embrace the industry.