Jaya Singh Interview

The TRI-POD series: Jaya Singh on life, career and key influences

In the latest edition of our popular TRI-POD series, Mondelez World Travel Retail, European Export & Switzerland Managing Director and TFWA President Jaya Singh talks about his humble upbringing and formative years, how he got his break in travel retail, and why “the show must go on” in Cannes next month.

The special guest in the latest edition of TRI-POD, The Moodie Davitt Report’s travel retail-themed podcast series in collaboration with The SEVA Group, is Jaya Singh, Managing Director Mondelez World Travel Retail, European Export & Switzerland. Jaya is, of course, also President of Tax Free World Association (TFWA). TRI-POD is hosted by The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie and Roger Jackson, Managing Director of Dubai-based The SEVA Group IMEA and Organico Solutions, the Dubai operation of The SEVA Group.

Jaya has enjoyed a long and distinguished career with Mondelez, much of it in the duty free and travel retail sector, a channel he has always shown a great passion for since entering it in 1997 and to which he has given a tremendous amount. An important element of that contribution has been his involvement in trade associations. Among other roles, Jaya is a past Board Member and President of the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association (APTRA), and since 2020 he has been President of TFWA. In a fascinating conversation (click on the video below for access), Jaya opens up on his humble origins in Singapore as the child of a then highly unusual inter-racial (Indian/Chinese) marriage. “It was totally unheard of; interracial marriages were always frowned upon,” he recalls, while explaining the impact that such a background had on him in growing up in the island state and shaping his life values.

“The growing up years were extremely interesting because this was after World War II. It was a time when the Japanese occupation was a very real fact of life, so people who went through that came out with a mindset of real prudence and frugality and hard work – really appreciating the things that they have: a simple bowl of soup or rice on the table which they never had on a regular basis during the Second World War.

“I grew up in the period where I understood differences in life are real and prejudices are real… it can harden you, it can make you bitter or make you wise and more sensitive.”

“That was very much the environment and the mindset of my parents when I was raised. So I grew up in the period where I understood differences in life are real and prejudices are real… but in the end those are valuable lessons you learn in life. It can harden you, it can make you bitter or make you wise and more sensitive about the things that we see in the world today. I chose the other path; I chose to forgive and to move on and all within the umbrella of prudence and frugality.”

Jaya Singh talks travel retail and much more besides with Martin Moodie and Roger Jackson

Jaya also talks about his first job and travel retail breaks; his deep sense of Christianity; and the most important influences and mentors in his life and career. You’ll hear about his lucky breaks and just as importantly how he made the most of them; his discovery of the travel retail channel; and, of course, his election to the Presidency of TFWA and why he is convinced that “the show will go on” in terms of the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes next month. You’ll also discover his favourite tipple and (perhaps inevitable) snack on our resident desert duty free island and where he would choose to fly following his stay there (spoiler alert: Manchester City fans look away now). It is a wonderfully warm, engaging and revealing conversation with a man who has earned wide respect across the whole spectrum of the travel retail industry over more than two decades. *Click here for the web version of this interview and to access more episodes in our TRI-POD series.

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The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 300 | 16 September 2021

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 15 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit www.moodiedavittreport.com and to subscribe, please e-mail sinead@moodiedavittreport.com

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