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An Interview with John Campbell Tupling

by Nur Ilyanna Mohd Shaharul 1 Jul 2013
An Interview with John Campbell Tupling

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Those in the financial services industry will know John Campbell Tupling from his tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of CIMB-Principal Asset Management. The Canadian native recently sat down with us to share his experience on receiving TalentCorp’s Residence-Pass Talent and life as an expatriate in Malaysia.

My wife and I are professional expatriates, and we have been doing this for 20 years now. We have been to countries like Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Spain, the United States and Hong Kong. It’s become part of our nature to be on the move, so we know how to move to different countries, get settled quickly and manage our children’s affairs. I first came down to Malaysia with CIMB-Principal Asset Management in 2007 for a joint venture, and we have been living in Bangsar ever since. Part of the reason we were able to settle down quite quickly here is that Malaysia is an easy place to come to. It’s good for expatriates and it’s very open to visitors.

To be honest, I didn’t think that I would do anything else other than financial services. But things change, and there came an opportunity to go somewhere else which I was not all that keen on. Then a new opportunity for an entirely different project came up, and that was where TalentCorp’s services really helped.

The project is still in the works so I can’t say much about it yet, but I can tell you that it’s very exciting to have the opportunity to do something different that I’ve always had a passion for. TalentCorp helped us to get settled in terms of offering a longer term perspective because there’s that five-year limit on employment visas, and you always wonder what’s going to happen afterwards. At that point, getting the Residence-Pass Talent just took away that concern and opened up the possibility of doing new things. With the RP-T, I stepped down as the CEO at CIMB-Principal to start working on this project which I’m quite confident and excited about, so I’m pleased that I get to work on it.

I first heard about TalentCorp from Datuk Ranjit Ajit Singh at the Securities Commission. He mentioned that there was a new programme that helped people to get longer term visas. Fortunately, CIMB-Principal is the sort of company that looks forward and they saw this opportunity as a way of being able to have people they wanted to stay on and make that commitment. They love Malaysia, so they were very supportive and positive about me getting it.

TalentCorp’s staff has always been very helpful, quick and encouraging in terms of trying out new opportunities. Their ability to guide people through the whole process is where I think they really shine. In terms of obtaining the RP-T, they made it very simple and efficient. Once we had all the paperwork together, it was just a matter of weeks at most to get everything done.

The wonderful thing about Malaysia is its balance in terms of its people. There is a great mix of cultures here, which as a Canadian I can understand since Canada is a country of immigrants. In terms of security, the cost of living and the open lifestyle where I am able to do a lot of different activities with my family, it’s been great. When it comes to food, you can get anything you want here. I like nasi lemak, and it’s easy to get Indian and Japanese food or fresh pasta at most places here. And if they could turn down the heat… well, I’m Canadian, so I’ve never fully adjusted to the heat!

Surprisingly, I feel that there are a lot of similarities between the Canadian and Malaysian cultures because of the variation factor, though here it is more historical than emigrational as is the case in Canada. Because of that, there is a sense of openness. There is a mutual respect among the people, and you can live the way you want instead of feeling restricted in your movements.

For instance, my sons play rugby for a team made up mostly of locals and a few expatriates who all get along wonderfully. We have travelled to Singapore for tournaments, and everyone always has such a good time together. And my kids represent Malaysia during the tournaments! It’s all great fun.

I have been to Malay and Chinese weddings—I haven’t actually been to an Indian wedding here yet, I need to get to one—which I think are a lot of fun. So are open houses at the end of Ramadhan, it’s amazing to meet so many different people. If I had to recommend one thing to a fellow expatriate interested in coming to Malaysia, I would definitely say come for the people.


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