Please tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Simon White and I’m the Sales and Business Development Manager for the APAC and MEA regions. I was born in Coventry and lived there until I met my wife Sarah and moved to Nottingham. We have two sons, Dexter 9, and Jonny 7, both born in Singapore; and two French Bulldogs , Rexa and Ronny. We’ve been based in Asia since 2009, living in Singapore until 2015 and then Johor in southern Malaysia, a short drive from Singapore, for the past six years. I’m based out of our Singapore office, although travel restrictions for the past 18months have prevented me working from anywhere other than home for some time now.
What first inspired you into the engineering and architectural industry?
I’ve always had an interest in how stuff works so was constantly taking things apart as a kid. As I got older this continued with bikes and cars; my motorbike probably spent more time in pieces on my garage floor than it did on the roads. I studied Mechanical Engineering and was able to regularly apply my theoretical knowledge practically in all of my early roles which was very rewarding. I started off working in an internal design and development role, designing, building and assessing new particle size reduction concepts, before moving into customer facing installation, commissioning, project management and technical sales roles. Primarily I’ve worked for companies providing equipment and process design solutions, mainly into the Pharmaceutical sector, so I’ve built up a good understanding of working in regulated and clean environments. I moved out to Singapore to establish the Asian HQ of my employers at the time, a UK based containment solutions provider.
What made you want to work for Dortek?
Working in the pharmaceutical sector and spending lots of time in cleanrooms across the UK and Ireland, I probably saw many more Dortek products than I realized. The first real interaction that I remember was whilst working at Howorth Air Technology and the Dortek demo van paid us a visit. I relocated to Singapore around the same time as Mike Glanville so we met frequently to discuss opportunities over a beer or two, so I was aware of many of the projects that were being worked on. When the APAC business development manager position became available, the timing and role were perfect so I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately however COVID came along a little under a year later and my role was affected quite significantly.
How has COVID affected you and your family in Asia?
The pandemic has been tough in this part of the world and Malaysia is still very much working towards the recovery. Restrictions have been lengthy with international borders having been closed since March 2020 so it’s been a long time since we were able to see family and friends in the UK. School for our boys has been online for the majority of the last 12 months so they’ve missed out on lots of sports and socialising with their friends.
From a business point of view, we have 12 partners across the MEA and APAC regions and prior to the pandemic I was spending a couple of weeks each month supporting their business development activities. With international borders closed this has obviously been impossible but technology has allowed us to carry out most tasks effectively. Nothing can truly replace face to face meetings though so I’m looking forward to getting on a plane again soon.
What do you like about working with Dortek?
The company has a very good feel to it and is filled with really capable and reliable people. I deal mainly with our estimating, projects and finance teams and the support that they provide is excellent. We have a great social media presence due in no small part to the efforts of our installation teams who seem to take photographs and videos everywhere they go! And obviously all of my sales colleagues are perfect.
Looking outwards, we have some excellent partners around the APAC and MEA regions and developing relationships with them has been challenging but rewarding. But probably my favourite thing is the variety of customers we deal with: from banana processors in Sierra Leone to cutting edge vaccine manufacturers in Australia, we seem to have solutions for everybody.
What are your interests outside work?
I’m a Coventry City fan so like to keep an eye on how they’re doing, but being out in Asia means that most decent sport is played whilst we’re asleep. I do play cricket when I can with the parents from our son’s school, and I enjoy cycling and running despite the heat and humidity of South East Asia. I also help out with coaching at the local rugby club.
Away from sport we like to travel. Having a regional role means travelling lots, but seeing very little, other than airports, hotel rooms and the inside of offices, so whenever possible we like to get away from home. Singapore and Malaysia are lovely countries but they are also really well connected and we’re lucky to have some of our favourite places in the world a short flight away. We have a great network of friends here too, lots of different nationalities, but with similar aged children, so a typical weekend for us would probably be a relaxed barbecue washed down with a few Changs, Singhas and maybe some Soju…!