Our Team

The Faces of Mekong Institute

Dr. Watcharas Leelawath

Dr. Watcharas Leelawath is currently serving his second term as 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. He was also Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota, Morris, USA where he taught International Economics and Mathematics for Economists.

He is a trade economist with a strong interest in trade and development cooperation issues in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and ASEAN frameworks, and has extensive research experience in the fields of International Labor Migration and Regional Economic Integration. Dr. Leelawath has written several papers presented 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 has also 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 (TIF) Department at Mekong Institute (MI). Prior to joining MI, he served as Research Director of the Economic Institute of Cambodia (EIC) and Adviser of Cambodia India Entrepreneurship Development Institute (a bilateral project of Governments of India and Cambodia). He was conferred as Honorary Advisor to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, Cambodia through a royal decree by the Prime Minister of Cambodia and the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia. He is also the Coordinator of the Mekong Korea Cooperation Fund, a funding mechanism established by the Republic of Korea to support development projects in Mekong countries.

Mr. Dutta has over 23 years of experience in private sector development in South and South East Asian countries. His key areas of interest are entrepreneurship, SME development and trade and investment facilitation. He has designed and implemented several multilateral capacity development projects on SME value chain integration, Cross border trade, Special economic zones, Logistics development including green logistics, Market access, Ecommerce, business database, Investment forums in the GMS.

He has also served as consultant to various agencies namely European Union, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, German International Cooperation (GIZ), UN- Development Program (UNDP), International Finance Corporation, International Labour Organisation, OXFAM, World Vision, Chemonics International etc. on SME policy development, value chain integration, sustainable tourism, investment feasibility, trade curriculum development. green business and private sector innovations.

Mr. Dutta earned his master’s degree from Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi and a Master of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management from Technical University of Dortmund, Germany.




Ms. Sanchita Chatterjee joined MI as Program Specialist in May 2018. Prior to this, she was based in New Delhi, India working as an independent consultant on economic and social policies for projects funded by the European Commission and the Commonwealth Secretariat. She has also served managerial and research roles in her work with a number of organizations including an Indian conglomerate, diplomatic missions and educational institutions. Ms. Chatterjee was also engaged in a number of collaborative projects with the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) and the UK Department for International Development.

She has extensive experience in strategy development for various sectors including international organizations, trade negotiators and non-government organizations; management and coordination of multi-country projects; liaison with governments, research institutes and the private sector; and trade development. A trade researcher, her work has covered, among others, analysis of business and macroeconomic policies, issues in trade in goods and services, trade facilitation, rules of origin, intellectual property rights, trade and sustainable development, labor relations, responsible business, and global and regional value chains.

Ms. Chatterjee has a master’s degree in economics from the Delhi School of Economics. 




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 for the freight transport and logi

Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia

Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia is the Director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialization (ADC) 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 MI, she worked as University Researcher and Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and was on secondment to the International Rice Research Institute and the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture for several 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, International Development Research Center, and the World Bank.

She obtained her BS degree in Agribusiness from University of the Philippines Los Baños, 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. Ratna Devi Nadarajan is Program Specialist at the ADC Department. She has over 20 years of experience in the areas of national quality infrastructure, sustainable consumption/production, and consumer protection at national, ASEAN and international levels, with her work in these areas intersecting related issues such as trade facilitation, consumer protection and environmental sustainability goals.

From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Nadarajan served as Chair of the ISO Committee on Consumer Policy where she facilitated research projects on emerging issues related to international standards of importance to consumers, and offered policy recommendations to members and ISO councils. She was also lead coordinator for the Asia and Consumer Policy in International Standardization Network, where she designed and delivered capacity building programs to over 300 national standards bodies and consumer representatives from Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Her previous engagements also included the development and implementation of projects under the APEC Support Fund on Regional Product Safety Incident Information Sharing, and the UNEP 10-Year Framework Program Trust Fund on Food Waste. Likewise, as Secretary General of the Malaysian Water Forum, she worked with the Malaysian Water Services Industry Commission on water demand management, non-revenue water management, climate change raw water security and consumer education. 

An experienced trainer, she had worked with various sectors in Lao PDR and Vietnam on training programs on international standardization and stakeholder engagement, as well as with UNIDO and UNCTAD officers on the subject of consumer protection issues and guidelines. 

Ms. Nadarajan has a bachelor’s degree in food science and a master’s in environmental science. 


Ms. Jutamas Thongcharoen

Ms. Jutamas Thongcharoen is ADC Program Manager and an accredited Regional Training Specialist of MRCs FMMP Program. Before joining MI, Ms. Thongcharoen served various administration and project coordination roles at Khon Kaen University including the Faculty of Public Health, Institute of Dispute Resolution, and the Agriculture Consulting International Company.

She has a master’s degree in Rural Development Management from Khon Kaen University.


Mr. Sudam Pawar

Mr. Sudam Pawar is the Director of the Innovation and Technological Connectivity (ITC) Department. A development professional with over 20 years of experience in the development sector, Mr. Pawar has worked in the areas of management consultancy, project management, training and capacity building.

His key areas of interest are innovations and technology in energy, environment, entrepreneurship and sustainable livelihood. He has extensive experience in implementing development projects in Africa and India funded by multilateral agencies, governments and the private sector. His work has spanned the areas of business plan development and implementation, performance analysis and risk management.

Mr. Pawar obtained his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering from Mahatma Phule Agricultural University, and his MBA (International Business) from Jadavpur University of Kolkata, India.