I started learning Mandarin in college. At first, I think I was only exploring. I was just another business student, looking for the next big opportunity. The plan was to graduate and go into banking. But there was a lot happening in Asia. Japan was becoming worldwide known for its powerful companies; China was transforming from a communist country into a mixed economy. So, I changed my plans.
After I graduated, I looked for a job that allowed me to travel to Asia. And, I found one in a trading company. Everything worked according to plan: after two years, they sent me to China for a year. Soon, that year turned into two, which turned into three, and before I knew it, I had spent 30 years in Asia. It was challenging, of course, from day one. I got there driven by economic opportunities and found an ocean of cultural diversity. I remember that China was particularly harsh. Back then, it was still an underdeveloped country. In Hong Kong, they spoke Cantonese, so my Mandarin wasn’t much help. There was no internet. I relied on telex and fax. Sometimes, I’d feel isolated. But that’s the thing about human survival — you learn and adapt. And looking back now, it was a terrific experience to see China go through all those tremendous changes.
In those 30 years, I’ve lived in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai, and Singapore. I married a Singaporean. I had two children who grew up in Asia. I still feel very American, though. But an American that understands the world a little better. Right now, my plan is to stay in Singapore. Just last August, I officially joined OutSystems. I’m very excited about it. In my career, I’ve seen companies with really great products, but without a market for them; and others with really great markets, but not really great products. In OutSystems, we have both. We are in a hyper growth phase here, in Asia. Keep an eye on us for the next three to four years. It’s a great time to be a part of the team.