Meet The Ex­pats

Say hello to 30 ex­pats from all cor­ners of Malaysia’s di­verse ex­pa­tri­ate com­mu­nity

Expatriate Lifestyle - - Contents -

01 Serina S. Ba­jaj (THA)

Serina moved to Kuala Lumpur with her Sin­ga­porean hus­band and has built up her food busi­ness to crit­i­cal ac­claim. Not just any food, but de­li­cious, whole­some dishes via Raisin’the Roof – her café serv­ing cool veg­e­tar­ian cui­sine – and her lat­est en­deav­our, Kind Kones, which is Malaysia’s first ve­gan ice-cream bar.

When asked what her proud­est achieve­ment was so far as an en­tre­pre­neur here, Serina said it was the launch of Kind Kones due to the amaz­ing re­sponse. “To a cer­tain ex­tent, I feel that I’ve been able to make a bit of a mark here. It’s al­ways awe­some to pi­o­neer a new con­cept in any in­dus­try.”

Be­ing ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about women in busi­ness, she thinks it’s im­por­tant to set a good ex­am­ple for young girls es­pe­cially since hav­ing her daugh­ter, who’s her big­gest in­spi­ra­tion.

Jug­gling moth­er­hood and a busy work life is some­thing women the world over have to deal with and Serina is no stranger to this. Be­tween prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and pro­mot­ing her cafés, she finds time to go on play­dates and spend as much time as she can with her daugh­ter.

With all this go­ing on, Serina had this to say, “There’s no force more pow­er­ful than a woman de­ter­mined to rise!” and we whole­heart­edly agree with her.

02 Ge­off Dalziel (AUS)

A lit­tle over a year ago, Ge­off was of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to open Nespresso in Malaysia and he ac­cepted. Hav­ing been with the com­pany for ten years and worked all over the world, a move to Malaysia was a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence life in a new coun­try.

With a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in mar­ket­ing, Ge­off moved into gen­eral man­age­ment and was tasked with bring­ing Nespresso to the mar­ket much to the de­light of lo­cal cof­fee lovers.

Malaysia is one of the most ex­pat-friendly coun­tries in the world and when asked what he liked most about the coun­try, Ge­off said, “The diver­sity and hos­pi­tal­ity of the peo­ple is a real high­light.the weather is also a big plus – sum­mer all year round! I have joined the quest to find the best nasi lemak, ba­nana leaf rice and chilli pan mee.” Here’s some­one who has as­sim­i­lated per­fectly into the Malaysian life­style!

Dur­ing his free time, he makes it a point to keep fit and try out new restau­rants and cafés. Dis­cov­er­ing the city, and trav­el­ling around the coun­try and Asia with his wife and two chil­dren is also on the agenda. Plus he’s keen on pick­ing up Ba­hasa Malaysia so we look for­ward to hear­ing him speak the lo­cal lingo and tell us where the best nasi lemak is.

03 Aure­lia Silva (UK)

Most of Aure­lia’s ca­reer has been firmly rooted in the cor­po­rate world, with 15 years spent in some of the world’s big­gest brands across Europe, the Com­mon­wealth of In­de­pen­dent States (for­merly part of the Soviet Union) and Asia.

Start­ing in brand mar­ket­ing, she’s worked her way up to strat­egy and se­nior man­age­ment roles in the to­bacco and lux­ury goods in­dus­tries as well as le­gal and tax ad­vi­sory ser­vices.

Now, how­ever, Aure­lia is the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Bri­tish Malaysian Cham­ber of Com­merce (BMCC) and works closely with both the Bri­tish and Malaysian gov­ern­ments to fos­ter stronger bi­lat­eral trade be­tween both na­tions. She has big plans for the BMCC and the greater role it can play as a chan­nel that not only bridges the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor, but of­fers its stake­hold­ers news, data and con­nec­tions.

It’s a busy job, but work-life bal­ance is im­por­tant to Aure­lia and she sets aside time for sports. While it’s hard for her to in­dulge in her life­long hobby of ski­ing here, she hikes, plays golf and re­cently cy­cles in­stead

In her two years here, she’s also be­come a foodie and travel ad­dict – her list of all the places and things she wants to dis­cover across Malaysia grows longer each day.

04 Do­minic Hoff­man (GER)

Even though Do­minic be­gan with a tra­di­tional bank­ing ca­reer, the safe path was never for him. His thirst for in­no­va­tion and chal­lenge led him into the world of star­tups; he joined ven­ture cap­i­tal com­pany Rocket In­ter­net SE and helped build up sev­eral e-com­merce star­tups in Europe and Asia, in­clud­ing do­ing stints at West­wing and Zalora.

Since 2014, Do­minic has been with the Lazada Group and has spent the last seven months as the Chief Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence Of­fi­cer of Lazada Malaysia. He’s proud­est of be­ing part of the dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion of com­merce and hav­ing a small role in shap­ing the e-com­merce ex­pe­ri­ence in Malaysia. It’s ex­cit­ing, he says, be­cause Malaysia has all the right in­gre­di­ents for a boom­ing e-com­merce mar­ket and it’s just get­ting started.

Out of the of­fice, Do­minic doesn’t stop – if he’s not ex­plor­ing new run­ning tracks or cy­cling around Hulu Lan­gat, he’s run­ning in long and ul­tra-long dis­tance run­ning events like the Tokyo Marathon and Rin­jani 100. We think the secret to suc­cess is his eight daily cups of espresso – but when life is so ex­cit­ing, one can’t em­brace it with any less than ‘all sys­tems go’!

05 Lucy Walker (UK)

Mak­ing jew­ellery might just be a fun hobby for some peo­ple, but for Lucy, it’s part of who she is. At the age of ten, she used to sell her cre­ations to her grand­mother and her dad’s friends at the pub for one to two pounds.

How­ever, it wasn’t un­til she moved to Manila in 2006 and signed up for her Grad­u­ate Ge­mol­o­gist diploma that things re­ally got se­ri­ous. Since then, she’s worked with fine jew­ellery every­where from New York to Dar­win and has even ap­plied to teach gemol­ogy in Botswana!

In­stead of Botswana, Lucy came here in 2014 to teach in the jew­ellery de­sign depart­ment at Raf­fles Col­lege of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Kuala Lumpur. But she’s now tak­ing the next step and set­ting up her own jew­ellery academy in Bangsar, where she will of­fer classes af­ter it of­fi­cially opens in Novem­ber.

One ex­cit­ing col­lec­tion she’s work­ing on is in­spired by many her­itage build­ings around Kuala Lumpur, such as the old court­house, which she loves for its com­bi­na­tion of colo­nial, Asian and Malay in­flu­ences. An ex­cit­ing tribute to the coun­try that she plans to make home.

06 Heath Kon­dro (CAN)

Ask Sun­way In­ter­na­tional School’s deputy prin­ci­pal Heath Kon­dro what first brought him to Malaysia and you’ll be sur­prised to hear that his story in­volves a group back­pack­ing trip through South­east Asia. While his friends left back for Canada, he de­cided to stay and take a teach­ing po­si­tion in Pe­nang.

Af­ter some time in and out of Malaysia (in­clud­ing a ten­ure teach­ing in Bo­livia and Viet­nam), Heath found him­self back here at Sun­way In­ter­na­tional School, bring­ing his time in Malaysia to nearly ten years to date. Heath’s ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties at school keep him prop­erly busy dur­ing the week, so his free time is spent on hik­ing, road trips or play­ing in the lo­cal ice hockey league each week.

Back in 2002, Heath coached in the Malaysian Ice Hockey Fed­er­a­tion, lead­ing a lo­cal team to vic­tory at a com­pet­i­tive tour­na­ment that year. Heath is cur­rently in charge of the school ac­cred­i­ta­tion for his school’s IB Diploma Pro­gramme and hopes one day to con­tinue coach­ing ice hockey for the younger gen­er­a­tion here.

07 Juer­gen Gal­listl (AT)

A na­ture-lover and trav­eller at heart, Juer­gen Gal­listl’s first job back home in­vi­enna was with Erste Bank, fol­lowed by a short time at the Aus­trian Em­bassy in Bei­jing. He ar­rived in Malaysia eight years ago and has since been in­stru­men­tal in pro­vid­ing per­son­alised travel ser­vices to the un­der­served Mus­lim trav­eller de­mo­graphic with Tripfez, a Mus­lim-friendly on­line travel and ho­tel plat­form that he co­founded with lo­cal en­tre­pre­neur Faeez Fadhlil­lah.

Juer­gen is COO at Tripfez, a po­si­tion that he con­sid­ers more of his pas­sion than just a job. The suc­cess­ful travel start-up was in­vited to present at an Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion meet­ing, a mile­stone Juer­gen re­calls as en­thu­si­as­ti­cally as when Tripfez was fea­tured on the BBC news on­line.

For Juer­gen, set­ting up Tripfez here is an achieve­ment that’s close to his “half-malaysian” heart. When he’s not work­ing or off glo­be­trot­ting, the soft-spo­ken Aus­trian en­tre­pre­neur prefers spend­ing time with friends (or a good book, it de­pends) and ex­plor­ing what the Malaysian out­doors has to of­fer.

08 Jim White (AUS)

From sheep and cat­tle sta­tions in the Aus­tralian out­back to a large multi-food prod­ucts cor­po­ra­tion in Dubai, Jim has spent 25 years get­ting to know the food in­dus­try in­side out. Malaysia is coun­try num­ber eight for this sea­soned ex­pat, cur­rently here as the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of French syrup com­pany Monin­ese last nine months have been hec­tic as he’s been trav­el­ling to all mar­kets within Asia-pa­cific!

Jim’s re­cently joined the Malaysian Aus­tralian Busi­ness Coun­cil, and since Monin is a French com­pany, he can also be seen at events by the French Em­bassy and busi­ness com­mu­nity. Oth­er­wise, he’s also been ex­plor­ing the many new mixol­ogy bars in KL’S emerg­ing bar scene, and finds him­self im­pressed by the qual­ity and pas­sion of the mixol­o­gists.

Hav­ing just ar­rived from the desert sands of the Middle East, Jim loves the green jun­gles and thun­der­storms of Malaysia and is a new nasi lemak con­vert. Since he and his fam­ily plan to stick around for a while, there’ll be plenty of time for them to ex­plore the is­lands and jun­gles – and for him, golf cour­ses too!

09 Richard Towle (NZ)

If there’s one per­son who knows more than most about the con­di­tions sur­round­ing the 150,000 refugees in Malaysia, it’s Richard Towle, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia.

The New Zealan­der has been with the UNHCR for more than 25 years, as­signed to Malaysia from four years ago as UNHCR Rep­re­sen­ta­tive af­ter be­ing based in Can­berra as Re­gional Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Papa New Guinea and The Pa­cific.

Richard has been in the thick of hu­man rights re­con­struc­tion ef­forts in Ser­bia, Mon­tene­gro and Kosovo at the demise of the Balkan Con­flict. Now, he says his work with refugees in Malaysia has been a sim­i­larly hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence and an on-go­ing fight for hu­man dig­nity in the face of ter­ri­ble cir­cum­stances.

Work­ing with refugees is hum­bling; you see how or­di­nary peo­ple faced with ter­ri­ble chal­lenges emerge with courage and dig­nity” -Richard Towle

Do­ing what I needed to de­spite peo­ple's neg­a­tiv­ity around me, go­ing through my stud­ies and other fam­ily strug­gles; those are my proud­est mo­ments” -Sa­mar Ab­dul­lah Al-montser

10 Sa­mar Ab­dul­lah Al-montser (YEM)

When her fa­ther was ap­pointed as Am­bas­sador of Ye­men to Malaysia, Sa­mar Ab­dul­lah’s nine-year jour­ney here thus started. She couldn’t legally work, so she turned her sights to the new com­mu­nity she found her­self in. Af­ter vol­un­teer­ing, teach­ing English and Ara­bic, and a slew of part-time IT jobs, Sa­mar pur­sued a Mas­ter of Arts de­gree in Ed­u­ca­tion.

While look­ing for a job, she worked on writ­ing a book and even­tu­ally joined the World Is­lamic Eco­nomic Fo­rum Foun­da­tion’s (WIEF) pub­li­ca­tions and re­search depart­ment. Sa­mar writes pro­fusely on so­cial is­sues, pol­i­tics (oc­ca­sion­ally) and poetry. She’s also or­gan­ised a pro­gramme to help Ye­meni chil­dren in Malaysia in­te­grate into so­ci­ety and cope with the war­zone trauma of their home coun­try.

Her first book of poems, When I Danced In My Mind, is avail­able on Ama­zon. Sa­mar still re­searches and writes con­tent for WIEF and is in­creas­ingly con­tent in what has been a tur­bu­lent and busy life so far. Out­side of work, you’ll find her stay­ing home to write, paint and plan her next big project.

11 Joseph Ryan (UK)

This UK na­tive be­gan his hos­pi­tal­ity jour­ney over a decade ago in Lon­don, set­ting up the pop­u­lar night­clubs Chi­nawhite and Aura, be­fore mov­ing into or­gan­is­ing lux­ury events within For­mula One. But it was Ai­ra­sia boss Tan Sri Tony Fer­nan­des, a for­mer part­ner in Aura, that in­tro­duced him to Malaysia.

Joseph moved here in 2015 to help de­velop TREC, the entertainment hub in down­town Kuala Lumpur. Now, he’s the Di­rec­tor of Spe­cial Projects for Zouk Con­sult­ing, which owns the renowned ‘Zouk’ club brand – think su­per­club Zouk Sin­ga­pore and the Zouk­out mu­sic fes­ti­val.

He’s plan­ning to bring both to Gent­ing High­lands soon, along with four Zouk-in­spired out­lets. Also on his agenda is new life­style ex­pe­ri­ence ‘Zouk­topia’ for the Gent­ing Dream cruise­liner, which ar­rives in South­east Asia by year end.

It’s not all work (or play) though; Joseph is proud of help­ing set up Trap Neuter Re­lease Man­age (TNRM) Malaysia, a not-for-profit which has saved over 3,000 an­i­mals in Se­lan­gor. He’s also a pas­sion­ate sup­porter of Sala Bai Ho­tel School, a hos­pi­tal­ity train­ing school that helps fight poverty and hu­man traf­fick­ing. Oth­er­wise, you’ll find him hik­ing around KL – his favourite es­cape is trekking to the Chiling Falls and re­lax­ing at The Sticks af­ter­wards.

12 Bruno Col (FRA/AUS)

French-born Bruno has spent most of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer in the film and tele­vi­sion in­dus­try, pro­duc­ing every­thing from wildlife doc­u­men­taries and an­i­mated tele­vi­sion se­ries down to cor­po­rate films and ad­vo­cacy videos.

While Bruno has sig­nif­i­cant cor­po­rate ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s his hu­man­i­tar­ian back­ground that re­ally stands out. He’s worked for World Vi­sion as their com­mu­ni­ca­tions head in Aus­tralia and later West Africa; the na­ture of his job meant he be­came and con­tin­ues to be very in­volved in child pro­tec­tion is­sues, water and san­i­ta­tion ac­cess as well as gen­der equal­ity.

At the mo­ment, Bruno’s keep­ing busy with sev­eral com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­sul­tancy jobs in strat­egy plan­ning, im­ple­ment­ing new com­mu­ni­ca­tion op­er­at­ing mod­els and con­tent cu­ra­tion. He’s of­fered to pro­duce a film for a Nepal-based women’s rights NGO to help raise aware­ness and funds. And he’s train­ing to at­tempt to sum­mit the 6,470m tall Mera Peak in Nepal!

13 Nathalie Ser­oux (FRA)

The ef­fer­ves­cent Nathalie first came to Malaysia 15 years ago and af­ter hav­ing her daugh­ter here, she worked in mar­ket­ing for dif­fer­ent par­ties in the health­care sec­tor, along with spells with the French Trade Com­mis­sion and the Malaysian French Cham­ber of Com­merce. Cur­rently, she’s the Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor of Gle­nea­gles Kuala Lumpur, thor­oughly en­joy­ing the new chal­lenges of a hospi­tal mar­ket­ing life.

Through her job, Nathalie has met and worked with and helped chil­dren with Type 1 di­a­betes and con­gen­i­tal heart disease.the eye­open­ing ex­pe­ri­ences also con­trib­ute to her love for work­ing out – she’s now en­am­oured with mar­tial arts and prac­tices kobudo and karate-do.

Com­ing from a pre­dom­i­nantly Cau­casian back­ground made Nathalie em­brace Malaysia’s mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism with gusto. She can ex­pound at length on the new re­li­gions, lan­guages, food and cul­ture that she’s been ex­posed to here – Hin­duism in par­tic­u­lar – and names Malaysians as some of the most wel­com­ing peo­ple she’s ever met. While the fu­ture is still a blank slate, “I in­tend to stay in KL for more fun – for sure!”

14 Ed Sanderson (AUS)

Sports has been Ed’s pas­sion since he left school. He’s spent the last 15 years op­er­at­ing sports and entertainment venues and ma­jor events through­out Aus­tralia, Ma­cau and the Lon­don Olympics. He’s met Prince Harry, worked out with Kobe Bryant, hit ten­nis balls with An­dre Agassi…the list goes on.

Ed ar­rived in Jan­uary to take on the role of Vice Pres­i­dent of lo­cal sports mar­ket­ing agency To­tal Sports Asia, us­ing his ex­per­tise to help im­prove the op­er­a­tions of sports and entertainment venues and events through the re­gion.

Even out­side work, sports are never far from Ed’s mind as he hits the gym, watches sports from all over the world and is per­ma­nently on the hunt for a game of bas­ket­ball in KL. But usu­ally, he’s spend­ing time with his 10-month-old son and pre­par­ing for baby num­ber two due in Fe­bru­ary next year with his wife, an ex-cirque Du Soleil ac­ro­bat. We sense a sports-mad fam­ily in the mak­ing!

15 Paul Baker (UK)

Paul’s mu­si­cal ca­reer be­gan at the Royal Marines School of Mu­sic in Kent. He served with var­i­ous bands in the Royal Marines Band Ser­vice, and free­lanced as a horn player and con­duc­tor.

Paul came to Malaysia on a whim, al­beit a smart one that saw him head­ing the Bent­ley Mu­sic Academy in 2010. He founded the Bri­tish Academy of Per­form­ing Arts (BAPA) this year, a fully in­te­grated per­form­ing arts school, with his busi­ness part­ner Karen Don­ald.

He as­pires to make the arts more ac­ces­si­ble through his ‘Mu­sic for Life’ pro­gramme, which aims to help a num­ber of un­der­priv­i­leged stu­dents study mu­sic for free at BAPA.

The Malaysian pre­miere of Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Re­quiem’ is his next am­bi­tious project, fea­tur­ing a sym­phony orches­tra, four in­ter­na­tional soloists and a 150-strong choir.

16 Ma­rina Tei (ARG)

Ma­rina’s been in Malaysia for 20 years now, cur­rently the prin­ci­pal of the Hils Learn­ing Cen­tre, an ed­u­ca­tional cen­tre in Mont Kiara that pro­vides learn­ing sup­port for spe­cial­needs stu­dents.

She traded in her job as an English-span­ish trans­la­tor for an ed­u­ca­tional role 12 years ago when she first dis­cov­ered that her youngest son seemed in­ca­pable of mas­ter­ing read­ing, even af­ter vis­it­ing sev­eral spe­cial­ists and doc­tors.

Then some­one re­ferred her to the Hils Learn­ing Cen­tre founder Hi­lary Craig, in whom she found a sym­pa­thetic fig­ure who changed the way Ma­rina saw con­ven­tional learn­ing. Ma­rina later earned a de­gree in Learn­ing Dif­fi­cul­ties and be­came a fa­cil­i­ta­tor at Hils Learn­ing. Till to­day, she main­tains her pas­sion for help­ing kids to reach their full po­ten­tial against all odds.

17 Chrissy Kha Khrang (MMR)

Chrissy ar­rived from Myan­mar 13 years ago to fur­ther her stud­ies and found her true pas­sion – rac­ing in triathlons. She be­gan run­ning in KL in 2004 and has notched up eight Iron­man fin­ishes around the world, as well as rep­re­sent­ing Myan­mar at the 2015 South East Asian (SEA) Games in Sin­ga­pore.

Chrissy once ran a small restau­rant ca­ter­ing to the Myan­mar com­mu­nity here, but she’d al­ways wanted to work in the fit­ness in­dus­try. So when she and a part­ner founded HIIT2FIT – Malaysia’s first live heart rate track­ing fit­ness stu­dio – in Pub­lika last year, it was one of her proud­est achieve­ments. Re­cep­tion is good so far and more branches are planned here and in Myan­mar.

Closer on the hori­zon, how­ever, is Chrissy’s 11th Iron­man triathlon in Langkawi, the sev­enth time she’s re­turned to the is­land to com­pete in Iron­man Malaysia. Wish her luck!

18 Clive Rogers (UK)

Clive’s 40 years of ed­u­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ence ex­tends from the UK to Italy, the Caribbean, Oman, parts of Africa, In­dia and now Malaysia.

The lively found­ing prin­ci­pal of the soon-to-open Penin­su­lar In­ter­na­tional School Aus­tralia in Se­tia Alam ad­mits that he isn’t very tra­di­tional as far as prin­ci­pals go: he started out as a PE teacher and gained a wealth of hand­son ex­pe­ri­ence in a di­verse range of learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments .

Un­sur­pris­ingly, he’s a ded­i­cated ad­vo­cate for ex­po­sure to dif­fer­ent cul­tures and ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems, en­cour­ag­ing kids to de­velop a global mind­set and a greater aware­ness of their com­mu­ni­ties.

Clive has his work cut out for him as he pre­pares for the Penin­su­lar In­ter­na­tional School Aus­tralia’s open­ing next Jan­uary. Back home, his ten-year-old son keeps him equally busy.

Erin San­dral (UK/US)

Af­ter an il­lus­tri­ous pub­lic re­la­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions ca­reer in Lon­don, Erin moved to Sin­ga­pore, where she be­came preg­nant and de­vel­oped melasma, a hor­monal sen­si­tiv­ity to the sun that re­sults in dark­ened skin patches. Laser treat­ment was suc­cess­ful, but the cost was ex­tor­tion­ate.

Rea­son­ing that high qual­ity laser treat­ments can be af­ford­able, Erin and her hus­band came to Malaysia in 2014 to launch Glo Laser Cen­tres – a pi­o­neer at the time of laser and light-based fa­cials here. It’s been well­re­ceived; this month, the sixth Glo out­let opens in Suria KLCC.

Erin’s also work­ing on The Bright Bar, a new con­cept that uses 30 min­utes of light ther­apy to treat skin. But when she has down­time, it’s spent trav­el­ling or tack­ling phys­i­cal chal­lenges to raise funds for women’s char­i­ties with Women on a Mis­sion. She’s hop­ing to go to Antarc­tica with them in 2018!

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