“Being flexible and having an openness to new experiences … just being curious. I think those personality attributes can help each of us experience more across our personal and professional lives…” Matt Nobles, Class of 2002, describes the most profound lessons he learned during his time at ISKL, straddling Middle and High School from Grade 7 to Grade 9.
As an expat kid between the ages of 4 and 16, Matt lived in Phuket, then Bali, Bangkok (where he attended ISB), and finally Kuala Lumpur and ISKL, before returning to his family’s home in Florida. While he didn’t experience culture shock returning to the US, he says the most noticeable thing about going “home” was the lower amount of diversity in the population. Matt explains, “A key difference about living in the US is that there are so many Americans! I did miss interacting with friends and people from all over the world. One of the great things about expat communities and international schools is the tremendous diversity.”
Now Chief Compliance Officer with GE Gas Power MENASA in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Matt has lived and worked in the UAE for the past 8 years, and is making the most of the expat life with his wife and their two young kids. He says, “It’s the only way to be! Because of my upbringing as an expat kid I’m glad to be living overseas and to raise our family this way.”
Unlike many of his generation, Matt has been with GE since he graduated from the University of Florida, Warrington College of Business with an honors degree in Finance. He attributes his career staying power to the enriching variety of experiences he has had at first with GE Aviation and now with GE Power. He says, “I’ve been able to travel extensively, work internationally, and be exposed to many different business environments and operating models.”
Matt’s current role involves helping the business grow in a way that is compliant with all of the laws and regulations of the US and the local countries where GE does business. These include anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, import and export laws, labor employment laws, and health & safety. He oversees investigations and says while it’s a challenging job, he takes pride in achieving equitable outcomes, noting, “The challenge of conducting an investigation is that it’s both an art and science. The science is the policy and process. The art is being sensitive to nuance and digging into the details.”
Moving and Shaking in the Silicon Valley of the Middle East
That flexibility and openness to new experiences has also led Matt to explore creative projects outside of his day job. His regular podcast, Streams of Progress, showcases the latest up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the UAE. The very first subject, a dry cleaning startup using eco-friendly products and with a slick App, has gone on to be the leading dry cleaner in the UAE.
Matt’s interest in financial literacy has also led to another venture, Dubai Personal Finance. Noting that not many high schools or universities sufficiently cover this important topic, he says, “We need a good resource to teach us budgeting, saving, investing and growing your wealth for the long term, so you can provide for your family, fund your dreams and aspirations. Without those skills I’ve found that many people often live from paycheck to paycheck. Money seems to flow like water through our hands.” Matt conducts coaching for adults and children, does workshops and seminars for school students and adults and has a website with helpful information.
Finally, Mozaic Ventures is an initiative Matt began with his wife near the end of 2018. A social impact fund, it aims to direct private investors towards businesses that support issues like gender equity and education access. The purpose of the fund is to enable investors to earn a solid financial return while simultaneously making a positive social or environmental impact.
“I had such a great experience…the teachers were fantastic!” Matt remembers his Middle School teachers, Mr Teppen in Science and Mr Fish in Math, as being “dynamic, interesting, with tons of energy. They made everything real in their teaching methods, with lots of fun thrown in.” Mr Fish left an impression for more than his teaching. Matt says, “His thing was he could walk on his hands … he would walk up and down the hallway on his hands, just to get a rise out of the kids.”
Like so many ISKL Alumni who spent some of their Middle School years at ISKL, Malaysia Week is cemented in Matt’s memory. He recalls, “My first Malaysia Week was an Outward Bound camp – a week kayaking, camping outdoor activities, team building. Second was cycling across Malaysia. Every day we would cycle about 50km and stay overnight in small villages. It was a great trip!”
Matt has joined those who’ve left their mark on ISKL with the purchase of a Legacy Plaque on campus. He has also in recent years organized an ISKL alumni group in his region and says, “I’m glad to be able to give back a little bit. I’m a proud panther, a proud member of the ISKL community. I read the newsletter and I’m excited to see all the great things alumni are doing around the world. I plan on staying connected to ISKL for a long time to come. Go Panthers!”