Interview by Molly O'Brien, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Advance 

“We definitely consider living in Singapore an education. It’s an amazing experience to have.”

Robbie Hills is the Head of Strategic Partnerships for DoubleClick, Google’s digital advertising technology division. Initially moving to Singapore on a two-year contract, Robbie and his family are about to celebrate their 10-year anniversary next February – with no plans to leave anytime soon.  

A wearer of many diverse hats in his day-to-day life, Robbie gave Advance an insight into his world as a father, Google employee, and an Australian living in Singapore.

How do your days typically start?

I try to get up and exercise early in the morning before my three daughters wake up. Usually, my wife Kathy and I are up and out the door at around 5:45am; we’re doing an Australian exercise program called F45, it has a really big following here. We've been doing it now for about 12 months and really enjoy it – it keeps us sane!

We get back to the house by 7:00am and it's a mad rush to get two teenagers and a 10-year-old out the door for school. I have a quick bite to eat and chat with Kathy, who runs regional design agency, Cowan across South East Asia and then we're out the door by 8:00 and I'm in the Google office by 8:30am.

Singapore is known for its efficient transportation system. Do you use it to get to work?  

It really varies with what I have on. Sometimes I'm on the MRT, which is underground, and sometimes I’m in an Uber or taxi. If I'm lucky, Kathy will drop me off at work. 

Do you live in a residential part of Singapore, or are you in the city?

We live up near Holland Village, in the centre of Singapore. It is more of a residential area.

How long have you been living in Singapore now altogether?

February will be 10 years. I initially moved up here with advertising group WPP, with a two-year contract, and thought we would be here just for that period of time. But we loved it and now we have no immediate plans to leave.

What does a typical workday at Google look like for you?

I look after Strategic Partnerships for DoubleClick across Asia Pacific so it really does vary. One day I could be out visiting clients, talking to them about their advertising technology requirements and the next day I could be working with internal teams, talking to them about developments that need to happen across our platforms. We sometimes take internal leadership courses; Google is very big on making sure that the employees are well rounded and well trained. It’s not just practical work and leadership courses, but things that help employees develop personally.

One of the things I really appreciate at Google is that we have on-site cafes and restaurants for lunch options. It's a great chance to catch up with not only your own team, as I often do over lunch, but it also encourages you to meet new people from across different teams/regions.

What time do you normally finish up work?

I like to get home in time to see the kids and to be able to eat dinner together, so I try to get out the door by 6:00 and home by 6:30. Sometimes I’ll have a couple of late night calls, the joys of living in Asia and having colleagues in the US and Europe!

I'm also the coach of the Singapore Cricket Club Rugby Academy (SCC) Under 10 Girls Touch Rugby Team which keeps me busy a couple of nights a week. There’s quite a big touch rugby community here in Singapore, and I like being part of that. It’s a great way to keep the kids (and me) healthy too.

How do your daughters enjoy living in Singapore?

They love it, they've all grown up here and they speak fairly fluent Mandarin now. They’ve travelled a lot around South-East Asia, and Asia in general. They’ve experienced a lot of different cultures. We definitely consider that an education, even outside their schooling education; it’s an amazing thing for them to have.

Do you have any favourite places that you like to visit on a night out?

Singapore is known as the foodie capital of South-East Asia. In the last four to five years there have been some amazing restaurants that have popped up; including one of our favourites called the Cook House. If we need a bit Australian meat fix there's a restaurant called Burnt Ends – a delicious modern Australian barbeque.

What’s something do you think that is important to remember as an Australian living in Singapore? Or anywhere overseas for that matter?

You have to make sure get yourselves out and experience the local culture. It's very easy to get trapped in “expat life” and live within certain comfort zones. You need to make a bit of an effort to experience not just in the country you live in but also the surrounding regions as well.

Specifically, in Singapore, it’s important to take advantage of neighbouring countries, countries you might not normally go to if you're in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane. Places like Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia are right on your doorstep here which presents some great opportunities for travel.

What’s something do you think that is important to remember as an Australian living in Singapore? Or anywhere overseas for that matter?

You have to make sure get yourselves out and experience the local culture. It's very easy to get trapped in “expat life” and live within certain comfort zones. You need to make a bit of an effort to experience not just in the country you live in but also the surrounding regions as well.

Specifically, in Singapore, it’s important to take advantage of neighbouring countries, countries you might not normally go to if you're in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane. Places like Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia are right on your doorstep here which presents some great opportunities for travel.