Sitting at my favorite coffee shop in Plaza Mont Kiara, I gazed out the window wondering how I would recognize the woman I was supposed to meet that day, and how she would me. We had not met prior but I had come across her Facebook page “Just Ask About Kuala Lumpur” dedicated to the advertising of events for expats in Malaysia and decided to contact her.
As I waited, I studied each woman walking into the establishment when one in particular approached me; boxing gloves hung on her shoulder, sporting fitness attire, pixie hair and huge smile, she re-introduced herself as Susan. Immediately an aura of positivity filled the joint. Smiling, I greeted her back and soon after conversation was flowing with very little effort at all. In the following interview, we learn about snippets of her life as an expat woman and business owner of a relocation company.
You see yourself as a global citizen more than a British citizen … why is that?
I left United Kingdom at 13 when my family relocated to Hong Kong and never went back! My journey as expat has been an exciting adventure which has taken me to so many wonderful countries over the years. I met my husband in Hong Kong where he has also moved from the UK at a young age. We had our eldest daughter Nicola in Hong Kong before moving to Canada where our youngest daughter, Jessica was born. From then on, we’ve been lucky enough that my husband’s job has taken us to some fantastic countries, dotting mostly around Asia every few years with a stint in the Middle East. Malaysia is now country number 10 for our family!
What made you take this leap of faith into the business world?
Having been an expat for most of my life, I always had different experiences in each city I had lived in, some more challenging than others. I felt that the knowledge I had built over time would be useful for first time expats who are new to a different culture.
After we moved to KL, I met my business partner, Victoria, who set up Just Arrived Sdn. Brhd in June 2015. During our time in Bangkok I did a similar job for a large relocation company there. I knew instinctively that my skills and experience would contribute to the development of the business. I decided to take the leap and bought into it. Now I get to combine my experience and passion on a daily basis and I love meeting new people. It’s great being able to provide expats with the tools they need in order to have a smooth transition into a new country.
Victoria and I are equal partners in the company; I manage the Malaysian arm while Victoria who has recently relocated to Dubai with her family plans to expand the business there. You never know what expat life will throw at you; it’s about being open to new opportunities and seizing them.
What do you wish you would have known before getting involved with Justarrived.asia?
I didn’t set the business up directly so that might be a question for Victoria but I really haven’t come across anything at this stage that has surprised me. I feel very comfortable in this type of industry.
How would you describe the impact your experience as expat woman had on your journey as business woman?
Being an expat 100% helped my business. If I hadn’t lived the expat life, I wouldn’t have the experience needed to really help people move to a new country and settle down.
How do you think other fellow expat women, who would like to set up a business, could relate to your experience and what advice would you give them?
I think it’s about finding out what you are passionate about and making sure you get out there and meet as many people as possible in order to apply your passion. Expat women are in a great position to network as the landscape is constantly evolving with people moving from country to country all the time. Definitely take advantage of your surroundings, the opportunities are endless and it’s never too late!
How do you measure success?
For me, success is measured by happiness and passion. I’m passionate about travel and I’m incredibly fortunate that it has become my life so being able to help others embark on their own adventures is very rewarding for me.
Who is your role model and why?
I don’t have one particular role model. Many women I know, whether professional or not, are role models in different ways. Some have strived to be successful businesswomen and have had to juggle children and a career. Others are not professional but have dedicated many hours to making life better for those less fortunate. I have great admiration for all my friends who have had their own struggles and successes.
Last and not least, how do you see the next step in your journey?
There is always space for learning when you get involved in a business so I’m looking forward to all the successes and struggles along the way. I also hope that I am able to inspire women who might want to turn their passion or their great idea into a business. KL is an exciting expat hub so I’m looking forward to growing the business here and taking on some more challenges.