SIMON BURBURY is settling into life in Johor with his wife Jennifer and children Chloe (18) and Oliver (15), as he begins his tenure as the new Master of Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM). He shares what he’s looking forward to in the boarding school’s role and his experience of living in Malaysia so far.
Where are you from originally? What do you miss about it?
I was born in Halifax, a small market town in Yorkshire, England but grew up in Lancaster under the shadow of the iconic Lancaster Castle. Most recently, I’ve spent a lot of time in Scotland and will probably miss the highlands and islands there more than anything. Sailing off the West Coast of Scotland is really quite special.
What brought you to Malaysia?
We’ve lived and worked in Egypt and Singapore previously. When we were in Singapore, we loved our trips into Malaysia: Penang, KL, the Cameron Highlands, Malacca, Tioman. We returned to the UK in 2008 but we always said that when the time was right to go abroad again, we would look at living in Malaysia first.
What does a typical working day at Marlborough College Malaysia look like for you?
Every day is different in a school – it’s what makes my job so interesting.
I try to start every day with a run or swim then head to my office to clear my inbox before staff and pupils start arriving. I always try to be around at drop-off to welcome pupils and parents. Throughout the day, I will meet with key people responsible for developing MCM into an inspiring and joyous place for studying in Malaysia, where pupils are learning, having fun and getting involved. I try to take part in a couple of activities each day, whether on the sports field or in a classroom, to get to know the pupils and staff.
In the evenings, I might visit one of our boarding school’s houses to see how our boarding students are getting on with living in Malaysia at MCM, or perhaps host a group of pupils, staff or parents at the Lodge. I thrive on the buzz and constant hive of activity; working in a busy boarding school such as MCM is more of a lifestyle choice than a job for me.
What are you looking forward to at MCM?
I’m looking forward to getting fully involved in everything that’s going on: sports fixtures, drama productions, art and design exhibitions, cultural days, outreach projects, educational visits and the many social events that make up the school calendar from dances and cultural celebrations to formal dinners and coffee mornings.
Any particular challenges you’ve found living or working in Malaysia?
It’s a surprise to see just how many Western brands have opened up in Johor in the last 15 years – it really is very international. There seems to be every conceivable UK High Street and luxury brand here now.
What are a few things you like to do in Johor when you’re not working?
We enjoy exploring the many restaurants and local eateries – the variety and quality of food is extraordinary. If I can find time in the evening, I enjoy a few holes of golf at one of the many courses in Johor. At the weekend, we might head to the coast at Desaru to enjoy some water sports.
Marlborough College Malaysia is at Jalan Marlborough, Puteri Harbour, Johor.
This article first appeared in the October 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!