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Who Is Pita Limjaroenrat? The MIT Sloan MBA Challenging Thailand's Political Establishment

As the Move Forward party gains a crucial victory in Thailand’s political arena, find out more about the MIT Sloan MBA graduate who led the party to polling success

By  Almha Murphy

Wed May 17 2023

The Move Forward party, led by MIT Sloan MBA graduate Pita Limjoroenrat, won a landslide victory in Thailand’s general election last weekend, securing 151 of 500 seats in Thailand’s Lower House. 

The party’s win signifies a drastic change in the country’s political landscape. With goals for radical reform, Move Forward aims to challenge Thailand’s military-backed government which has ruled since 2014. 

There are still barriers to Limjoroenrat becoming prime minister: as a new party Move Forward will have to persuade established opposition groups to co-operate in a coalition while also avoiding any intervention by Thailand’s deeply conservative military-royalist establishment. But there’s no doubting the impact the 42-year old and his party is having on politics in Thailand. 

So, what do we know about Pita Limjoroenrat?

A Harvard educated, MIT Sloan MBA graduate 

Pita Limjoroenrat is highly educated, having first graduated with a bachelor's degree in finance from Bangkok’s Thammasat University he later moved to the US to gain an MA in Public Policy from Harvard University. 

This was followed by an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, one of the most prestigious MBAs in the world—MIT came fourth in the US News & World Report 2023 Ranking, 11th in the Financial Times MBA Ranking 2023 and is one of the elite M7 business schools.

After graduating from MIT before his 25th birthday, Limjoroenrat was forced to begin his career in business after the death of his father. Taking over the running of his late father's rice bran oil company for several years, he later worked as an executive director for the Singapore-based ride and delivery app, Grab Thailand. 

Alongside this strong business pedigree is a highly political background. His father was an adviser to the Thai agriculture ministry, while his uncle worked as an aide to Thai Thaksin Shinawatra—the billionaire telecoms tycoon and populist former premier who was unseated in a coup in 2006.

Limjoroenrat entered the political landscape in 2019, elected as the leader of the progressive Future Forward party which was controversially forced to disband after winning an unprecedented amount of votes in election polls that year. 

The party was reincarnated as Move Forward, which was formed on the back of a series of anti-monarchy protests led by young and urban voters in 2020, who were frustrated by the endless cycle of military coups and crackdowns. 

As the party’s charismatic leader, Limjoroenrat has since increased his popularity by posting viral social media campaign videos, showcasing him talking to street vendors while accompanied by his seven-year-old daughter.

Although he has not yet secured the premiership, following the general election results Limjoroenrat declared on Monday that he is “ready to be the next prime minister.” 

Limjoroenrat is not the only MIT Sloan MBA to make waves after graduation. The highly academic degree is known for developing principled, innovative leaders including former Microsoft chairman, John W Thompson, and HubSpot co-founder Brian Halligan. 

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The main image in this article is accredited to Sirakorn Lamyai via Wikimedia Commons and used under this license