The SHY Interview: Ian Thubron ~ Advertising Agency TBWA Asia Pacific.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ SHY Ventures
Wednesday, 9th August 2006
As executive vice president for advertising agency TBWA Asia Pacific and chief executive officer of TBWA Hong Kong - Ian Thubron people-watches for a living. Yet he can't get enough of people. Yeoh Siew Hoon presents the first in a series of interviews with travel insiders.

What is the biggest buzz you get out of what you do?

Meeting new people in new places. They are few and far between now, especially in Asia, but there's still always the thrill of a new country, new city, new hotel, new agency. It beats that 36th trip to Taipei.

What do you most dislike about it?

That slight feeling of fear and nervousness before a big presentation, after weeks of work, thought, effort, strategising.

What is your most perfect travel moment?

Sitting back after take-off, with a glass of wine and 16 hours of reading, movies, sleep, uninterrupted thinking and Cathay Pacific pampering ahead. Seriously.

What irks you most about travel?

The long walk from gate 70 to the train to the immigration at Chek Lap Kok after a long trip. On the same note, immigration queues (eg Shanghai) after any flight.

What is your most treasured souvenir?

An elephant table I bartered for a T-shirt and a pair of sunglasses in Livingstone in southern Zambia while on safari during my year off in 1984. I carried it back on the cross bar of my bike to Victoria Falls and it has accompanied me everywhere ever since.

Who's the most interesting person you have met in your travels?

An old man in the Transvaal, also in my year off, who asked me if I would be leaving South Africa soon. When I said yes, sadly, he said I would be back. How do you know, I asked? "Because when you leave Africa," he said, "you leave a little bit of your heart behind and you always have to come back to collect it." That's proven very true

Who's the living person you most admire?

My wife, for putting up with me. Noone else could.

What is the quality you most admire in others?

Challenging convention, not accepting "that's the way things are", being innovative and having a strong point of view, right or wrong. That's two things but they're linked.

What is the talent you would most like to have?

I would like to be more considered and less of a "bull in a China shop" with decisions and reactions.

What do you value most in your friends?

Loyalty and love.

What's your favourite word?


What's your least favourite word?


What's your favourite noise?

The noise of the engines as they go from idle to full thrust on take-off (see favourite travel moment above).

What's your least favourite noise?

I'm sure this is a common one, but the tinny sound of an i-Pod in someone else's ears on a plane or the MTR.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Personally – four well adjusted, bright and happy little kids. But since that's probably more my wife's achievement than mine, on the professional side it would be having grown M&C Saatchi from HK to Greater China from 1999 to 2003, tripling revenue and doubling profit.

What's the one thing you would say to kids?

Do what you enjoy doing, because you'll succeed. Don't do what you think you should do, because you'll end up dissatisfied and unhappy. That goes for sport, career and love.

What's the one thing you must do before you die?

Build my dream home on my 15 acre block in Margaret River so that I can cook wonderful dinners, drink Cab Sav on the deck as the sun goes down, and play the piano to the kangaroos.

The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company's mission is "Content, Communication, Connection".

She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published "Around Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries". Her motto is ‘free to do, and be'.

Contacts: Tel: 65-63424934, Mobile: 65-96801460

Yeoh Siew Hoon's other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com
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