Staff and Faculty

The International School of Penang (Uplands) is extremely proud of its multicultural staff, boasting fifteen different nationalities amongst their academic faculties. Our staff know the importance of intellectual engagement, communication skills, leadership, and focus on student growth and discovery.

Senior Leadership Team

Matthew Bristow
Matthew BristowPrincipal
BEd. in Physics

Matthew Bristow was born in Beckenham, in the United Kingdom but started his exploration of the world living with his parents in South America (Trinidad & Tobago and Ecuador). He attended school in England at Dulwich College and Exeter School before being awarded a commission in the Royal Navy serving in the South Atlantic and the Persian Gulf. Matthew then graduated from Homerton College, Cambridge where he obtained a BEd. in Physics. Whilst at university he also obtained a commission in the Territorial Army and served for 10 years in the Cambridge University Officers Training Corps combining this with his teaching career in England.

Matthew moved to Hong Kong in 2008 where he was the Assistant Principal at Quarry Bay School before moving to Singapore to take up his first Principal’s position at EtonHouse International School & Pre-School. In 2010 Matthew was appointed as the Founding Principal of Nanchang International School, Jiangxi Province, China leading the school from its opening (with only 4 children) to it becoming a candidate school for the IBO Primary Years Programme.

Alison Nicholson
Alison NicholsonHead of Primary School
Dip. Ed. B.Ed.

After completing her studies at Otago University and Dunedin Teachers College Alison Nicholson taught in New Zealand schools for fifteen years before moving to Indonesia. During her time in Bali she became involved in the IB Primary Years Programme and, now as Head of Primary, she has continued to develop and implement the programme in the six years she has been at Uplands.

Giles Mongare
Giles MongareHead of Secondary
NPQH, BEd Music

After a career in the British Army, Giles went to University in Birmingham and then joined the teaching profession where took up his first teaching post in Somerset. He has worked in a number of different Educational environments – UK state school, Private and 5 International Schools, 3 of which he has been Head. Giles has held a number of positions throughout his career – Teacher, Head of Department, Head of Faculty, Assistant Head, Deputy Head and of course Head.
Giles has worked with organisations such as Ofsted, CIS and CfBT on visits to other schools and joins Uplands from a very large International school in the UAE.

Renee Tan Chooi Cheng
Renee Tan Chooi ChengHead of Finance
Ms Tan is a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and also Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). She obtained her Master in Business Administration from University of Portsmouth, UK.

She is currently the Head of Finance and has been with Uplands since 2011. Prior to this appointment, she held senior positions at controller level overseeing Finance, Human Resources, Purchasing and IT, across numerous industries in both local and international organisations. She was also instrumental in setting up the financial system for a subsidiary company in the United States of America.

As an ex-trainer cum consultant, she has conducted training courses on finance, credit management, risk management and internal audit to non-finance personnel and organisations. She has also conducted lectures for final year accounting students for the strategic level paper on Management Accounting – Risk and Control strategy.

Her areas of strength include financial management and analysis, strategic business planning, risk management and policy development.

Tan Swee Guat
Tan Swee GuatHead of Administration
B.A. in Humanities

Started her career in banking industry for 2 years before she moved to PSDC (Penang Skills Development Centre) in 2002. In her 12 years at the PSDC, she worked with the manufacturing industry to support talent growth for Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Electrical and Electronics (E&E) cluster in Malaysia.

She has also contributed to the establishment and operation of Malaysia’s First 10m Semi-Anechoic Chamber Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) lab and worked closely with government agencies and industry to accelerate learning curve of engineering graduates in the country. She was also responsible for marketing and developing training programs, actively involved in strategic plan of the institution together with leaders in the E&E cluster.

Swee Guat was a Consultant specializing in institutional set-up in Chittagong, Bangladesh and Manaus, Brazil funded by TM International and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).