An Interview with Sonia Bozena Wedrychowicz-Horbatowska1 Oct 2013
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Sonia Bozena Wedrychowicz-Horbatowska, The Head of Consumer Banking at Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia talks about why she recommends TalentCorp’s services to expatriates and the quirks in Malaysia that she finds amazing.
LIFE CHANGING CHOICES
I started my career back in 1994, where I spent 18 years in Citibank Poland. For 12 years I was in corporate banking, I was the Head of Consumer Banking for the last six years. A year ago I was hired by Standard Chartered Bank in Malaysia—I changed my whole life when I left the company; I came to Malaysia, I brought my family with me and since then I am the Head of Consumer Banking of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia.
I’ve traveled a lot before but this is the first time I’m staying long-term in Asia, and I’m really loving it. The first time I arrived in Malaysia was in February 2012 and that was for my final interviews (with Standard Chartered); I officially came to work here in June—more than a year ago.
TOUCHING BASE WITH TALENTCORP
I think it’s amazing that there is a form of recognition for the expatriate community in Malaysia. TalentCorp is not only focused on bringing Malaysians back to the country but also recognises and appreciates expatriates who come here. It was a very warm feeling that I had when I learnt that the government appreciates the fact that I came here to contribute to the Malaysian economy, I think that it is a very nice gesture. The fact that we get the RP-T for 10 years, that allows me to work and stay in the country and we can also bring our closest family members to live with us—I think that it is a great benefit, a very unique and unusual benefit which I’m very grateful for.
BRINGING VALUE TO MALAYSIA
I have already recommended TalentCorp’s services to many people, and I know that many of my colleagues and friends who applied were also awarded the RP-T. When you travel you feel almost like a local, having the RP-T and presenting it everywhere. It gives you this feeling of being a part of something bigger for a longer time. I think that’s very important for us, especially when we are looking at actually bringing value to Malaysia. The value is never delivered in a short time, so the fact that we can actually be here for 10 years is something that makes us think in a longer term for Malaysia and for ourselves.
I am here with my husband and my two children. My son is 13 years old and my daughter is nine years old. My family was quite excited when they learned that we were getting the RP-T. It was especially important for my husband as it allows him to work as well, so staying here actually gives us a lot of flexibility as a family.
ELEMENTS OF ATTRACTION
The day-to-day living over here is very easy and very pleasant. The people are wonderful and I love the food. The climate is really amazing and that’s quite unusual and surprising, because outside of the country everyone else thinks that it’s very hot here, but the reality is it’s actually not that hot and it’s very pleasant. I come from Poland and everybody thinks that Poland is a very cold country, but we have extreme temperatures. It can go as low as -25 degrees and it can also go up to 38 degrees. We don’t have air-conditioning, because the heat only stays for three to four weeks in a year but it’s very hot and very stuffy, so I really appreciate that the temperature here is always stable and pleasant.
I’m always telling my people that in Poland, everybody looks the same, everybody is of the same religion—mostly Roman Catholics, and you can also say that everybody almost thinks the same. Here in Malaysia, the diversity is amazing. I like the ethnic diversity, the different languages spoken, the diversity of the food available and what I’m really amazed with is the tolerance: how people can live in a diversified environment in such a nice and acceptable way. They accept and respect each other in a great way, and I really find it extraordinary.