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From Trading Desk to Noodle Stall: A Singapore Success Story

When his dad was diagnosed with cancer, equities broker Watson Lim took over the family business—and hasn’t looked back.

The coffee shop that houses the Da Dong Prawn Noodles stall in Singapore.

The coffee shop that houses the Da Dong Prawn Noodles stall in Singapore.

Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

A decade ago, Watson Lim thought he was on a glide path to a career in finance. Just a few years out of college, he was brokering equities at Singapore’s second-largest bank, poring over earnings statements and prospectuses to pitch trades and investments to clients. It was the sort of generational advancement his father had envisioned, a big step up from the grueling hours he’d spent cooking prawn noodles at one of the city-state’s storied hawker stalls.

After stints at Citigroup Inc. and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., Lim had earned enough money to take a yearlong break and travel the world. Then in 2017, as he was preparing to return to his career in finance, he got devastating news: His father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.