The third-largest island in the world, Borneo is home to amazing biodiversity.
Rocketeer Chester John recalls being surrounded by it.
“Until I was five, I lived with my grandparents in the village. Every evening we would walk up the nearby hill until it was too dark to see and make our way back, sharing a small torchlight. We would usually be accompanied by stray dogs, cats and the occasional monkey.”
Chester’s wildlife meet-ups continued into adulthood. “I’ve encountered wild boars in Borneo’s highlands in a sleepy town called Bario.” Wild boars also joined him on a bike ride, which he says they ate later that night.
“Someone else caught and prepared them, of course!”
Today, as Senior Analyst, Product Management, Chester works with ServiceRocket’s product team out of the Kuala Lumpur office where he fulfills his fitness goals, often in the great outdoors.
”Early morning hikes, especially on the weekends, are just a reason to have a big breakfast!”
Another one of Chester’s favorite hikes is Sabah, a Malaysian state in northern Borneo, known for its beaches, rainforest and coral reefs. “I’ve only hiked there once, but it was a great experience. We ended up at a tall waterfall that just came out of nowhere!”
Between hikes, he challenges his cardio by playing touch football with a group 10-20 years his senior. “Funnily enough, these guys act like high school kids on the field! They’ve taught me that, no matter your age, you never grow old.”
He finds the #ThinkTeam mindset at ServiceRocket notably different from other companies.
“There’s an openness to communications across the organization that makes it easy for different teams to collaborate.”
You say East Malaysia…
An island shared by three nations (Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei), Chester grew up in the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo, “specifically Kuching, the capital,” a place layered in Malay and Chinese influences. (see image of Kuching at top of post)
”In Malay, Kuching means ‘cat’,” notes Chester. “There are many supposed origins of the city’s name, but more than likely it comes from the Chinese word for port (‘cochin’).”
Life in Kuching, which Chester admits is more fun to say than East Malaysia, was significantly slower-paced than life on the mainland.
“I wasn’t exposed to the hustle and bustle of city life like in Kuala Lumpur until my late teens,” says Chester.” People barely (if ever) honked on the road in Sarawak; there’s no real urgency to get anywhere. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that we’re more laid back in general.”
He attended an all-boys primary and secondary school.
“That means I didn’t know how to deal with girls in college, LOL.”
College was 3800 km due south of Kuching in Perth, Australia, where he played lead guitar in a band. “Frankly I don’t recall its name. Half of us wore wigs! We all bonded over music.”
While he still enjoys playing the guitar, “I wish I had more time for it.” (That passion is shared by many Rocketeers, including CEO Rob Castaneda—see his profile on the About page.)
Stepping away to start anew
In 2016, Chester relocated to New Zealand for a change of pace. “Life there was a lot slower than I thought; it isn’t much different from life in Borneo.”
During his year away, he learned technical skills like Python, SQL and various data visualization tools. “It made me itchy to get back to working on things. That’s when I decided to return to the tech scene in Malaysia.”
Chester’s technical skills are thriving at ServiceRocket, in an environment that lives its values (#ShareTheKnowledge and #DelightTheCustomer).
“Rocketeers are very willing to help and share their knowledge with one another.”
That said, “people are also willing to challenge themselves and each other in a non-toxic way.”
He looks forward to creating new apps from scratch for the next generation of SR products.
“I feel good whenever a customer says something like, ‘I found feature Y very useful,’ or 'It's so much easier now with feature X.’ Sharing that kind of feedback with the team feels even better.”
Know where your heart is
After living in Borneo and New Zealand, the self-described “jungle boy” would love to visit Hawaii.
“I’m also an island boy at heart!”
As for life in Kuching, says Chester, the buildings there may be taller than ever, but what’s important goes on.
“If you know where to look, many local customs and traditions haven’t changed. The Dayak tribes in the villages still practice their old religions, they enjoy their traditional rice wine, go out hunting for wild boar, get hand-poked tattoos and sing their ancestral songs.”
Enjoying life to the fullest is an ongoing quest for Chester.
“Memento mori. Remember you will die.”
“I’m inspired to have the most fun I can each day, love/be loved and appreciate all things, big and small.”
Ready to live your life to the fullest at a company that prioritizes mental and physical wellness? That’s ServiceRocket! It’s also where you’ll receive amazing benefits, financial reward for a job well done and the opportunity to grow your career. Join us.
The XST Blog