Jayhawks Around the World – Nathan Ladd (Singapore)

Nathan Ladd works in Singapore, almost 9,500 miles away from his Kansas hometown of Effingham. He moved to Singapore in 2012 to help set up the first international office for his employer, Kansas City-based Labconco.

Where are you now? How long have you been there?
I’m presently living in Singapore and have been there now for a year and a half.  I moved at the beginning of 2012 to set up Labconco’s first international representative office.

Where else have you lived?
I grew up in Effingham, Kansas, and had the 4 years in Lawrence before moving to Kansas City where I joined Labconco.  During university I did study abroad in Puebla, Mexico, I was a Kansas Asia Scholar to China and also had an internship for a summer in Singapore.

KU degrees?
B.S. (2007) in business and international studies

Nathan Ladd
World travel is not new to Ladd. As a KU student, he studied abroad in Mexico and China and held an internship in Singapore. His current job also requires frequent travel.

What’s your job title and the name of your company or organization?
I’m the Asia Regional Sales Manager and have responsibility for coordinating our distribution partners from New Zealand up to India/Pakistan over to Japan.  Labconco is a privately held, Kansas City company manufacturing laboratory equipment and safety enclosures.

What do you do?
Each day is different.  Although I live in Singapore, the expectation is frequent travel so I am often on the road two or three weeks out of the month traveling throughout Asia.  This gives me a chance to meet with Labconco’s local business partners to hear their challenges and suggestions for improvement.  When available, I also try to make time to visit customers and end users to better understand their situation.  Why did they purchase our product and how can that experience be used in other countries to help grow our Asia sales.

Labconco makes all of our products at our two USA facilities (Kansas City, Missouri, and Fort Scott, Kansas) so this often creates a bit of an uphill climb due to cheaper options or Asian made goods.  I’m often providing product training and also work again with these local teams to help answer user questions or service problems.  From sales, marketing, logistics, installation, service or warranty I generally have some degree of involvement or help work with my Labconco colleagues in Kansas City to help find fast solutions.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I work with people throughout Asia and that has been incredibly enriching and rewarding.  I have now been with Labconco for over six years, and many of these initial business relationships have grown into friendships.  Even as people change jobs or move around, many I know will always be friends.

Nathan Ladd in India
Ladd visiting a tomb outside of New Delhi, India.

What do you enjoy most about where you live?
Singapore is truly a global city and on a daily basis I meet people from around the world and even a few Americans.  It is always interesting to hear of other’s experiences and adventures.  It is very much inspiring and I constantly am reminded that it is a small world.  Besides meeting such a diverse mix of people, it also gives great opportunity to taste a global array of cuisines.

What are the biggest differences between where you live now and living in Lawrence, Kansas?
College towns are great and the coffee shop culture doesn’t exist to the same degree.  That’s definitely something I miss from both Kansas City and Lawrence.  While there is no doubt coffee shops available, most don’t have the same vibe and energy.

One thing that some often surprising is that I don’t have a car in Singapore and don’t have the need for one.  Not only are they prohibitively expensive due to a government system to help minimize the number of cars on the road, but being a small city state, Singapore enjoys a highly efficient subway, bus and taxi system.

How has your degree from the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences helped you?
On a daily basis I am undertaking cross cultural communication.  Classes and group work during my KU time helped to give me the basics needed and exposure to working with people of other backgrounds and cultures.  Being able to articulate the value and the purpose of a product can be a challenge, but I am often doing this with a non-native English speaking audience.  Giving presentations, doing group activities, and more all helped to prepare me for some of the daily challenges I face.

Bangkok, Thailand
A scenic view of Bangkok, Thailand, photographed by Ladd.

Favorite place in the world?
I find “favorite” aspects to everywhere I go.  I have been incredibly blessed to travel throughout Asia but there is still a lot of the world to see.  Some of my favorite places are those where I can explore on my own terms and get a glimpse of local life and tradition. The famous tourist sites are fun but there are so much more to these places.

Favorite KU memory?
I have such difficulty selecting just one. My KU experience offered me a multitude of great experiences and memories.

My time cemented my love of travel, both globally and within the USA.  I had tremendous fun seeing China as a Kansas Asia Scholar, traveling to London as part of the Honors Program’s London Review, and going to Louisiana on an Alternative Winter Break helping at the Nature Conservatory site.

Many of the friendships made last still today and those were cemented through shared experiences in the scholarship halls, student senate, KU’s Honors Program, working at the Center for East Asian Studies and much more.  I really jumped in and made the most of my four short years at KU.