As president of Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka Todd Ashton is an incredibly busy man, but he takes time out of his hectic schedule to talk travelling for business and for pleasure, living with three kids in KL and how he unwinds when he gets a chance
WHO ARE YOU?
Name: Todd Ashton
Occupation: President of Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka
Time in Malaysia: Two years
A CAREER IN TECHNOLOGY
I must admit, I’m not all that interested in technology, but instead am fascinated by how the combination of technology and people can make major positive impacts on society. Our customers don’t really want to buy technology, they want to offer their customers (that’s us as consumers and other businesses) good experiences that will increase loyalty and their revenue. So the key thing for me to understand is how technology can help our customers do what they want to do.
TRAVELLING ON BUSINESS
I look after Sri Lanka as well as Malaysia so I have to go there every five to eight weeks. The office there is in Colombo, which is a really beautiful and diverse city with an amazing cultural history.
I used have a job with a global responsibility and that turned out to be a nightmare. It sounds nice to be in Brazil one week and Egypt the next, but that life gets tiring pretty quickly and you forget to appreciate the amazing things you see and people you meet.
Business travel can be enjoyable when I remember to appreciate the customer interaction in a place like Kota Kinabalu or Hambantota in Sri Lanka — observing the cultural differences to approaching and solving a problem — slowly building trust across cultures. I love that.
When you add the personal aspect to a great place like Kuching, it becomes all the more beautiful. The one thing I am not so keen on is airports coupled with the “hurry up… now wait” aspect of air travel.
LIFE WITH THREE KIDS IN KL
My wife and I have three young children, so the weekend revolves around doing something with them. We love spending time at the pool and I love taking our two eldest kids to the golf club, hitting balls on the driving range or having small putting competitions with them.
And then those rare moments when we take a trip together. All five of us love the beach, no matter the weather. We also like to eat out as a family, but are divided on our favourite restaurant. If you ask my kids, it’s anywhere that serves fish and chips.
For me it’s somewhere I can sit and enjoy a glass of wine with my wife and watch my kids eat — that’s the best.
GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL
We don’t get out of KL all that often as a family, but we have done a few road trips to places like Penang and Kuantan.
The problem comes when deciding where to go as I want to go anywhere and everywhere — for me, everywhere has its own unique beauty.
I like cultural holidays and beach holidays, but as cultural doesn’t work very well with small children the tendency these days is to go somewhere with a beach. As long as I have my family, good weather, great food and some sleep, I am easy.
When we do go, I love driving. During the autumn I had the opportunity to drive from Philadelphia to Princeton, New Jersey for a wedding and I went on the back roads. It was great! But that said nothing beats the speed at which I can get from Stockholm to Kuala Lumpur sitting in one of the amazing new aircraft like the A380.