updated 13 May 2012, 10:24
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She gave up top job in the name of love
by Cynthia Loh

When IT veteran Christina Teo turned 40, she decided that she needed to “learn to make small talk that did not include business”. But more importantly, she wanted to find herself a husband.

With the same determination that saw her rise up the corporate ranks, she gave up all the success she had in the business world to look for the man of her dreams.
THis is her story:

By the time Christina first ‘retired’, she was the vice president of O2 Asia, a company that sold PDA phones in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia and responsible for marketing and selling its line of O2 smartphones in countries such as India, Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Before that, she had been general manager of Yahoo! Singapore and South-east Asia, where she launched innovative services such as online shopping and classifieds for the Internet search engine giant.

But Christina does not see giving up her high-flying career as a loss.

She said: “Having been so achievement-oriented all the time, my mind was very pre-occupied with business, seven days a week. But I did not know how to engage in small talk about nothing. I couldn't achieve that as long as I was working.

"When you turn 40, you start asking yourself these questions. How many more smartphones can I launch? After all, there's so much more to me. Studying in New York was an excuse to live there and find love."

Her quest for love led her to fill her social calendar in New York with parties and events. After classes and handing in assignments for her Masters of Psychology course at New York University, the self-confessed outgoing Christina used her skills in networking to make new friends and hopefully, find love.

But the woman who was known among her classmates as “connector” admitted that her first year in the city was rather “disappointing”.

She said: “I went for many parties, but couldn’t find someone.”

Friends were also puzzled by her decision to find love in New York. She explained: “I don’t deny I was influenced by the TV series, Sex and the City. To me, the people there are friendly – it’s a place where you can make small talk with almost anybody on the streets.”

She did eventually meet the man of her dreams in New York. Now 46, she is happily married to 27-year-old Miguel Jarrin, a graphic designer who arrived from Ecuador with his parents and lived in New York after five years of courtship that saw the couple move from New York to Hong Kong, then Bali, before going back to Hong Kong. 

She told Her World: “I definitely didn’t think I would meet someone so much younger. Yes, he was 21 and I’m 20 years older. He and his friends had gatecrashed my friend’s private party at a club. I was about to leave when this young guy asked me to dance. It was the loveliest slow dance I ever had.”

But while there was attraction, Miguel did not believe Christina was the woman for him. The outgoing and bold Christina was a complete opposite to a shy and quiet Miguel. She said: “He believed I’m not ‘nice’, a party girl who was not looking for a serious relationship, and that I won’t be able to take care of his needs.

"It took a long time to get him to accept me."

The turning point in their relationship came after she left New York to become the chief marketing officer with CSL Limited, Hong Kong’s second largest mobile service provider.

Nine months later, Miguel decided to join her in Hong Kong for good.

More pictures and stories:

She gave up top job in the name of love
High-flier dreams
"I don't do anything I'm not passionate about"
I went to New York to look for a husband


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