Originally from Calgary, Canada, I’ve lived in SE Asia since September 1999, when I moved to Thailand to start a high-touch travel company. Smiling Albino, as it became known, grew over the years to offer customized travel experiences in six countries, attracted business titans and A-list celebrities. Those 13 years were incredible: I got to travel to remote corners of the region, pioneer a multitude of tours, meet a ton of interesting characters and mingle in a wide range of social circles. It was really more fun than anyone should be able to have working and will hopefully find its way in to a captivating book one day.
During my Thailand-years I also dabbled in team building, consulting now and then as a facilitator for a Thai-based firm, working with companies like Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and BP. Formally schooled as a journalist I kept my pen whet by occasionally writing freelance articles for newspapers, magazines, guidebooks and websites around the world. One of the more enjoyable writing jobs was researching and writing travel guide maps for Groovy Map, authoring first editions of Seoul, Cambodia and second editions of Laos and Mumbai.
Community work also became an unexpected pursuit and pleasure during my time with Smiling Albino. Over the years we developed eight community programs in three countries, lending a hand when a need was perceived, working with locals to build schools, take mentally challenged persons on field trips, drive sick kids to the hospital and teach in rural schools. It was this work that led to being awarded Alberta’s Provincial Award Celebrating Excellence in 2004, resulting in the establishment of the Scott Coates – Smiling Albino Scholarship. Wow, a scholarship with my name on it – never thought that would happen!
A major period of growth took place in 2011 when I set-off on a five-month sabbatical becoming a Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, HI, taking part in the Asia Pacific Leadership Program. This was a wonderful growing experience and in many ways set the stage for the next chapter in my adult life.
In March 2013 I successfully excited Smiling Albino and soon thereafter followed my Singaporean wife to Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia where she accepted a job. We lived in KL for a couple years, during which time I was the Executive Director of the Malaysia Canada Business Council, creating a bridge between entities doing business in and between our two countries. Then change came again in August 2015 with my wife being transferred back to Bangkok, where we now call home.
I’m currently enjoying a change in career paths and serve as Director of People Develop with EXO Travel; one of Asia’s largest destination management companies (travel and tours). There I’m responsible for identifying, designing and delivering development programs for EXO’s 870 team members at 26 offices in 10 countries. Succession planning and career progression is also a major focus with a team of 11 HR professionals in regional offices.
Over the years I’ve done some things I’m pretty proud of and can hardly believe I did, including hiking the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, mountain biking across Tibet to Mount Everest Base Camp, as well as cycling down the west side of the Annapurna Trail in Nepal. When not working I love mountain biking, jogging, dirt biking, tennis, hiking, exploring new paths, reading, movies, dreaming about the next big thing and sipping beer with friends.
Want to know more? Have a look at my formal CV.