Edward is from the USA but now lives in Singapore.
This is his expat story.
Tell us about your expat story.
So I’ve been at Cigna for over 10 years and I’ve worked in a number of different positions. I was an underwriter for GHB NA when the opportunity arose for me in 2011 to move to Belgium and work for our International Organizations business. After a 3 year assignment, I moved back to the US in the fall of 2013.
I had only been back in the US for about a year when I was asked to interview in Shanghai for a role as the underwriting manager for CHB APAC. I was hesitant as I had just moved back home but I loved the energy of Shanghai and said yes to the role. I relocated to China in early 2015.
The initial plan was for a 2 year assignment in Shanghai, China. But, as these things go, Cigna began to shift its GHB APAC roles from Shanghai to Hong Kong and so I relocated from Shanghai to Hong Kong in mid-2015. I was in Hong Kong until mid-2018, when I moved to Singapore and have been living there ever since.
How much do you enjoy living in Singapore?
I think Singapore is a really lovely place. It’s organised, remarkably clean for a big city and a very green and beautiful place.
What have been some of the biggest highlights from your expat story?
I think my favourite highlight (besides meeting my wife, of course!) from the past few years in Asia has been some of the travel that I’ve gotten to do here. I went to Myanmar a few years ago and seeing Bagan and travelling of the beaten path in Myanmar was an amazing experience. Another highlight was a week-long diving trip in the Maldives. But, really, pretty much all the places I’ve gotten to travel to in Asia have been really cool.
What have been some of the biggest challenges so far?
Being so far away from home is definitely one. It can be hard to stay away from home for such a long time as an expat and you often do miss spending time with family and friends.
Especially being here in Asia, it is easy to feel the difference between my lifestyle and those of my friends and family back in the US.
On the flipside to that, the expat experience allows you to experience the unique and wonderful opportunity to expand your knowledge and understanding of the world and other cultures.
Is there anything in particular that you miss about your home country?
I would have to say Buffalo wings (laughs). That’s probably the number one thing I miss. I also miss the sporting culture that is back home in the US. It’s just not the same sporting culture here although Australia has quite a good sports scene.
Obviously I miss my friends and family a lot too. But apart from those, it would be the 24/7 sports culture and buffalo wings.
What advice would you give to those who are considering making a move?
My advice when colleagues ask, especially ones early in their career, is if you are serious about an expat experience, take the first opportunity you get. Becoming an expat can be challenging and you cannot afford to wait for the perfect role or the perfect location.
Expat experiences seem to be rather binary – either people love them or they hate them. So, take whatever opportunity you find and figure out if you love it or hate it. If you love it, you will be successful in that first opportunity and then there will be others.
How much do you enjoy your role in Cigna?
I have enjoyed all my roles at Cigna in particular the ones in Asia over the last six years. Asia has seen such tremendous growth this century and it has been great to be living and working here during that time.
My previous role was managing our Australia business, and I really enjoyed that role. We have a great team in Australia and Australia is a tremendous country. Great people and great approach to work and life.
I just switched roles to work on the IM strategy team, to help drive our refreshed health strategy, which I am excited about.
Finally, how would you describe your expat journey in 10 words or less?
It’s not the destination, it’s the journey that matters.