Alumnus and former Managing Director of Linde Malaysia, Siew Yap (SY) Wong, recently retired and has been using his time off to catch up with his favourite football team – the Saints. Following the club’s games brought him back to Southampton, where he took some time out from his day to revisit the University.
“In the 1970s Southampton hadn’t built up the world-class reputation it enjoys today. It was not so well known amongst Malaysians. Another classmate of mine applied to study here, and I saw the scenery in the prospectus, the weeping willows and the water, and I thought ‘wow!’
I arrived early in the autumn of 1975 and stayed in a YMCA for a week before moving into Connaught Halls of Residence.
I returned to Malaysia in 1982 and worked with MOX [Malayan Oxygen Bhd], a subsidiary of The BOC Group, and remained with the company through the period when it was acquired by Linde AG and rebranded as Linde Malaysia. I was the first Malaysian Managing Director in the company which I am very proud of. I retired last year.
My years at the University were some of the best times of my life, when I first left home and could do things on my own, without anyone looking over my shoulder. It’s great to remember those days.
I maintain good links with Southampton alumni in Malaysia. Periodically we have informal meet-ups between people in my class year. I find this network really valuable, as it helps you to keep in touch with old friends outside of work. It’s good to have a reason to catch up, as left to your own devices you might not make that effort.
Now that I have some time to myself, I just want to take it easy and give myself time to ‘smell the roses’! I am looking forward to spending some time ‘treating myself’, doing things like coming back to Southampton today. I enjoyed the city; it was a great place to study. I got on a bus in the city centre and sat on the top deck watching the city go by, reminiscing as I saw all the old streets I used to walk down and the Halls of Residence. So many of my memories are still of Connaught Halls. I used to love cranking up the heating! I have really enjoyed revisiting these places.
I am going to St Mary’s to watch the Saints – that is the kind of thing I want to be doing initially, now that I have retired and have the time to do these things.”