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Tech, drums and a passion for fashion

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Tech, drums and a passion for fashion
Simon Teng. Photo: Private
07:23 CET+01:00
Simon Teng, 46, was born and raised in Malaysia, spent 15 years living in Switzerland and has now made a name for himself in Sweden, working for global telecoms company BT, as he tells Odessa Fardipour.

Simon Teng is having a hectic week of video conference calls and meetings. But despite regularly putting in twelve or thirteen hour days,   his cheerful voice shares no trace of fatigue.

This is also a man who packs his weekends with clubbing, watching the rugby and playing the drums. How does he find the time to do it all?

“I really like to live my life to the fullest and enjoy feeling the pulse of the city, so I love going out for a meal and I’ve recently joined a foodie group which allows me to try cool restaurants and meet new people, so it certainly helps that I don’t have to cook, and I’ve also a hired a cleaner, so I save a lot of time not doing domestic stuff”.

Teng pays for it all with a salary from BT Global Services. Based in the Swedish capital, he is Chief Operations Officer for Switzerland, the Nordics, Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. He started his career in the telecoms industry in Malaysia in the mid-1990s, before spending fifteen years in Switzerland.

Read more expat career features here

The 46-year-old says it didn't take him long to adapt to living and working abroad and argues that his hunger for success and creativity was born out of the limitations he experienced growing up in an underdeveloped country.

“I have never been a fan of the status quo and have always felt an urge to be creative and develop myself.  Choosing a non-conventional lifestyle from an early age and questioning authority has allowed me to be carefree and fearless which was not very common or appreciated when I was growing up.  I remember listening to Joy Division, when nobody had even heard about them in Malaysia. For me it was a ticket out. I have never felt Malaysian or Asian in that sense, I consider myself to be a citizen of the world."

When meeting Simon in real life it doesn’t take long to figure out that this is also a man who also has a passion for fashion. With a wardrobe that would make many fashion forward people jealous, Simon knows his way around the fashion industry in his adopted home.

“I love the Swedish fashion scene and I’m a big fan of Swedish brands like, J Linderberg and Our Legacy. I think that Swedes are the best dressed people in the world and I love the way they interpret minimalism and clean lines in their design. The clothes have a more low profile and subtle feel which I find appealing and very similar to the Swedish mentality that I was so attracted to when I first came here."

Simon also reflects that mentality through his own modesty. He insists he is in Sweden to be fulfilled and successful, not to become a billionaire.

“I have never followed the money; instead I have always followed my heart, sometimes a little bit too much I think. Sometimes you end up in a happy place and sometimes you end up with a wounded heart, but that’s life. I think that the reason behind my success is the fact that I always like to challenge myself and being a problem fixer, if there is an issue I want to resolve it. That mentality has gotten me far and been very rewarding."

After living in Stockholm for around a year, Teng says that he loves the city because it has the pulse of urban centres like London and New York but without the crowdedness. Despite not initially liking the tax system in Sweden, he has now come to embrace it.

“Having lived and worked in Switzerland for so many years I wasn’t exactly prepared for the taxes here, but now I’m a really big fan. I know that if my 13 -year-old daughter came to live here, she would be safe [she currently lives in Malaysia]. The Swedish government takes care of its people and the small social gaps allow people to get the same educational opportunities."

Simon says he can also see himself settling down and growing old in the Nordic nation.

“Yes I would love to own a property, get a sail boat, buy a traditional Swedish summer house...The nature here is so beautiful and I’m confident that I will realize that dream in a few years”.

All photos: Private

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