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Expatriate Network: Allard Sjollema

Country Chief Executive Officer Allard Sjollema talks about his involvement in Courts and what he loves about life in the tropics

by / Published: 21 Jul 2014

Expatriate Network: Allard Sjollema

Interview Anis Taufik | Photo Hizwan Hamid 

Courts Malaysia has long offered home owners great bargains and ideal solutions. Allard Sjollema talks about his involvement in the corporation and what he loves about life in the tropics
 
 
WHO ARE YOU?
 
Name: Allard Sjollema
Nationality: Dutch
Occupation: Country Chief Executive Officer,Courts Malaysia Sdn Bhd
Time in Malaysia: One year
 
 
ALLARD ON…
 
CREATING A MARKET PRESENCE
Malaysia is a key driver for Courts Asia. We have 64 stores all across the country and attract numerous expatriate families too. Our stores offer fantastic merchandise, a variety of choices and the highest quality products.
 
We launched our very first “megastore” in Bandar Sri Damansara last year. The premises cover an expansive 160,000 square feet and we’re able to provide customers a great range of home products.
 
In addition to furniture pieces, we’ve got IT gadgets, electronics and household essentials like curtains and cutlery — it’s really a one-stop centre for all your domestic needs. Visitors to the megastore can also utilise the digital tablets available to design their very own sofa, choosing from extensive models and fabrics.
 
From my experience of moving and settling into new countries, sometimes it’s just so much easier to buy new furniture when you arrive instead of having it shipped over. You always run the risk of items breaking during travel and furniture not fitting through the doors of your new home.
 
 
BRIDGING THE GAP ACROSS CULTURES 
Over the course of my career, I’ve lived across several continents and in numerous countries. Ranging from South America, Eastern and Western Europe, and now Asia, I’ve been in places like Argentina, Slovakia, France and China.
 
I’m familiar with different cultures and my observation is this: so long as a culture allows you to be yourself, it’s not difficult to adapt.
 
 
REKINDLING OLD TIES WITH MALAYSIA
I actually knew of Malaysia quite a bit prior to moving here. I’d first visited as a teenager when my father was posted to Singapore in the 1980s. We went hiking in Taman Negara and visited Pulau Rawa to see sea turtles.
 
I worked in China before moving to Malaysia, but we went to Batu Feringghi in Penang for a family vacation before.
 
I’d very much wanted to live and work in Malaysia. As a multicultural country, people are open-minded towards different cultures, which creates acceptance of different ideas and ways of life. The business environment is booming and there are plenty of opportunities too.
 
 
TRAVELLING WITH THE KIDS
I took both my teenage children hiking deep in Taman Negara. It was tough for them when they first stepped foot into the jungle because we had to carry three days’ worth of water with us.
 
But within a few hours, they really loved it and it wasn’t a problem anymore after three days. We had a fantastic time sleeping in caves and in orang asli villages.
 
My son is currently learning to scuba dive. We’ve already been to Pulau Redang and I expect many more visits to islands to come. I’ve actually visited every single state in Malaysia for work too.
 
Now that Courts is in Sabah, I plan to take my son with me so we can do a bit of trekking and jungle exploration.
 
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