Our Team

The Faces of Mekong Institute

Dr. Watcharas Leelawath

Currently, Dr. Watcharas Leelawath is the Executive Director of Mekong Institute (MI). Prior to joining MI, he was the Deputy Executive Director of the International Institute for Trade and Development (ITD) in-charge of planning, supervising and conducting research projects, training programs and various capacity building activities.

Dr. Leelawath is a trade economist with a strong interest in trade and development cooperation issues under GMS and ASEAN frameworks. He worked as Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota, Morris, USA where he taught International Economics and Mathematics for Economists. He has extensive research experience in the fields Economic Integration as well as International Migration. He has written several papers for presentation in local and international conferences, has published several articles on trade-related topics and has co-authored a book entitled “Economics and Trade in Goods: An Introduction.” He provided his expertise in a number of capacity building activities organized by ITD, ADB, UNESCAP, WTO and Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA).

Dr. Leelawath earned his undergraduate degree from Chulalongkorn University and his MA and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Kansas, USA.

Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta

Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta is currently the Director of Trade & Investment Facilitation at Mekong Institute (MI). Prior to joining MI, he served as Research Director of Economic Institute of Cambodia (EIC) and Adviser of Cambodia India Entrepreneurship Development Institute (a bilateral project of Governments of India and Cambodia). Mr. Dutta has also been recently conferred as the Honorary Advisor to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, Cambodia through a royal degree by the Prime Minister and the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Mr. Dutta has over 20 years of experience in private sector development in South Asian and South East Asian countries. His key areas of interest are entrepreneurship, SME development and trade facilitation. He has designed and implemented several multilateral capacity development projects on SME and Trade Facilitation in the GMS including the ‘Private Sector Development in the East West Economic Corridor (EWEC)’ and ‘SME Competitiveness in Southern Economic Corridor’ (SEC) funded by Japan; Trade Facilitation Project in the North South Economic Corridor (NSEC)’ funded by China; ‘Integration of CLMV Economies into AEC’ funded by New Zealand, Certified Logistic Master Program funded by Republic of Korea among others.

He has also provided consultancy to various agencies - UNESCAP, ADB, World Bank, GIZ, UNDP, IFC, ILO, USAID, IFAD, OXFAM, World Vision, Chemonics International etc. on SME policy development, value chain, tourism, investment feasibility, green business, private sector innovations etc.

Mr. Dutta earned his Master Degree from Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi and an additional Master of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management from Technical University of Dortmund, Germany. He also holds an advanced diploma in regional development planning.


Mr. Sa-Nga Sattanun

Mr. Sa-Nga Sattanun, Program Manager for TIF, has worked in MI for more than 15 years. He has conducted learning programs with international organizations such as UNIAP, GMS-BF, NZAID, ADB, EDI, TICA, JICA, SDC, in areas related to regional development and cooperation such as SME, Trade Facilitation, Agribusiness, Tourism, and Leadership in Competitive Enterprises. Currently, he is implementing a series of capacity building programs and business networking activities in 11 provinces along East West Economic Corridor (EWEC) in Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, and Vietnam under the project titled Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation along East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC).

Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia

Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia is the Director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department. She joined the Institute with more than 20 years of experience in development work, research, project management, training, and teaching in various disciplines including supply chains and marketing, industrial organization, farming systems/sustainable agriculture, community development, impact assessment, project monitoring and evaluation, and socio-economics.  

Prior to joining Mekong Institute, she worked as University Researcher and Affiliate Assistant Professor in the University of the Philippines Los Banos and was on secondment to the International Rice Research Institute and the Philippines Department of Agriculture in some years. She has worked in the US, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines as researcher, trainer, facilitator, technical adviser, and consultant with various international organizations such as the Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Food and Agriculture Organization, German Agency for International Cooperation, the European Commission, Canadas International Development Research Center, and the World Bank.

She obtained her BS degree in Agribusiness from University of the Philippines Los Banos, MS degree in Agricultural Economics from University of Kentucky, USA, and post-graduate diploma in Executive Program in Management from Maastricht School of Management, The Netherlands.


Ms. Jutamas Thongcharoen

Ms. Jutamas Thongcharoen is a Program Manager and an accredited Regional Training Specialist of MRCs FMMP Program. She received her Masters Degree in Rural Development Management from Khon Kaen University in 2007.

Prior to joining MI, Jutamas has worked in various administrations and project coordination roles at Khon Kaen University, including the Faculty of Public Health, the Institute of Dispute Resolution, and the Agriculture Consulting International Company.

Mr. Sudam Pawar

Mr. Sudam Pawar is the Director of the Innovation and Technological Connectivity Department. He joined the Institute with more than 20 years of experience in Development work, Management Consultancy, Project management, Institutional Building, Training, and Capacity development, Market Linkages   in Agribusiness and Food Processing including supply chains, community development and socio-economics.  

His key areas of interest are sustainable agriculture, hi-tech agri- entrepreneurship, innovation, green energy , technology, economic & enterprise development, international business and business strategy. He has designed and actively implemented  capacity development projects based on Innovation and Technology at Community Based Organization, Private Organizations in India and East Africa including the “Convergence of Agricultural Interventions in Maharashtra for Distressed Districts” (CAIM), funded by International Funds for Agricultural Development ( IFAD), SRTT and Government of Maharashtra State. Agri-Export Zones (AEZ), Integrated Cold Chain and Food Park” Projects in Western Maharashtra  funded by  Government of India in “Public Private Partnership”(PPP)  module among others.

Prior to joining Mekong Institute, he worked as Senior Project Associate  in the Project Management Organizations ,Project Director of IFAD funded project and Senior Manager/Consultant   level positions with Private and Semi Government Organizations. He has worked in the   Africa, and widely travelled  at  Middle east, South Asian  countries for Business Development activities with various international organizations.

He obtained his B. Tech degree in Agricultural Engineering from Mahatma Phule Agricultural University, Rahuri of the Maharashtra State, MBA, post- graduate  degree in International Marketing Management  from  Jadavpur University of Kolkata, India  and  Executive Development Program in Project Management  from Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand.


Mr. Nguyen Hung Cuong

Mr. Nguyen Hung Cuong started working for the Mekong Institute since August 2013. He is currently the Director for the RLED-EWEC Project. Before joining the Mekong Institute, he has more than 10 years of experience working in the development sector in Vietnam. He formerly worked for the Netherlands Development Organization SNV and Oxfam in Vietnam.

Mr. Cuong has a lot of experience in development project implementation and management and conducting researches. His major areas of expertise are Value Chain Development, Make Markets Work for the Poor (M4P), Sustainable Agricultural Development, SMEs Development and Inclusive Business. He obtained his master degree on Agricultural Economics from Kyushu University, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan where he studied the characteristics and price correlation of the international grain prices and crude oil prices.