With Asia as a workplace
Robert Fröjd is the regional manager for Nasdaq in Southeast Asia and Australia and has been working out of Singapore for the past ten years. He is also an alumnus of Uppsala University.
The lift stops on the 17th floor of one of the skyscrapers on Collyer Quay in Singapore’s business district. Before us is Robert Fröjd’s office, with a view of the Singapore River flowing into Marina Bay and the spectacular buildings on the other side of the water. For over ten years now, Robert has been the Managing Director of Nasdaq Singapore with the responsibility of finding new customers in a region stretching from Afghanistan to New Zealand.
‘There’s a lot of travelling—I’m often away two or three days a week to meet clients and employees in different countries,’ says Robert. ‘It’s a really exciting job. I meet a lot of interesting and high-ranking people, but sometimes all the travel can be a bit taxing.’
Nasdaq is an international stock exchange providing IT infrastructure and trading systems for the world’s leading exchanges and clearinghouses. When Nasdaq started operating in Singapore in 2003, the company had some 10 employees in the region. Today there are over 800.
‘I came here in 2005 and we’ve grown unbelievably since then,’ says Robert.
But let’s take it from the beginning. Robert Fröjd is an alumnus of Uppsala University and graduated in 1992 with a degree in international economics with a specialisation in French. He comes from Norrköping and after upper secondary school, went to work in the stocks department at what was then Första Sparbanken in Stockholm.
‘It was actually pure chance that I moved to Stockholm and started working with stocks. But things went well for me, which was probably why I chose to start studying economics.’
At 19, Robert was put in charge of one of the bank’s stock trading divisions, but after taking a break to do his military service, he started studying economics with a specialisation in French at Uppsala University.
‘I guess I’m really a humanities scholar at heart, and choosing French was perhaps a way to express that.’
His specialisation gave him the opportunity to study for a term at a French business school.
‘We had a number of schools to choose from and I took the one that had the lowest number of foreign students so that I could learn the language properly.’
This turned out to be a wise decision in many ways. In addition to learning French, Robert also met his wife, Nathalie, during his time in France.
‘We went back and forth between Sweden and France while we finished our studies, and Nathalie was also an exchange student at Uppsala for one term.’
After a few years in the financial sector and then as self-employed, Robert got a job in the early 2000s at OMX as Head of Sales in Southeast Asia.
‘I’d worked a lot with the US and Europe and travelled quite a bit in Asia. I really enjoyed the work, but was constantly jetlagged for four years because of all the trips. So in 2005, we moved here from Stockholm.’
OMX and Nasdaq merged in 2007 and business in the region expanded rapidly.
‘There’s been tremendous development in the region and it’s contagious. People have positive attitudes and see opportunities.’
The pace of work is fast and personal relationships are key to being successful.
‘People treat each other with respect and courtesy and personal encounters are very important. I think that Swedes have a fairly easy time adapting to and working with people from lots of different cultures.’
Everyday life in Singapore is relatively simple. The level of service is high and most things work.
‘I’m really happy here. Singapore is a large multicultural city but in a very small country. There are good schools and it’s safe for the kids to get around on their own.’
‘The only thing I really miss about Sweden, apart from family and friends, is the nature and seasonal changes. I don’t really like the climate here. Singapore is one degree north of the equator and it’s always a bit too hot and humid. So even though winters are long at home, that’s something I can actually miss.’
That Singapore is a small country is another aspect that makes itself felt after a while.
‘You have to be a bit inventive to find something new. But on the other hand, it’s easy to take the family and go visit an island paradise just outside the city.’
Despite being very happy in Singapore, he doesn’t see the city in his long-term future.
‘I’m not going to retire in Singapore, but it’s a very interesting place to work in, with all the cultures and people you meet.’
Name: Robert Fröjd
Family: Wife Nathalie and four children
Background: M.Sc. in International Business with a specialisation in French from the University of Uppsala.
Makes me happy: Helping others
Makes me angry: Injustice
Last book read: No One Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel García Márquez