Apple of my eye


So who are the people that are making Aartsen a success?

In this edition of Refresh, get to know Pui San Poon.


Pui San Poon, please introduce yourself.  

I'm 34, single and live in Hong Kong.


What is your position at Aartsen Asia? What does that involve?

I am the Head of Administration and Finance. I am responsible for the administration of documents and finances. This involves entering data, processing documents, communicating daily with our partners, analysing data and keeping the financial side up to date. Everything has to run smoothly.


You were born in the Netherlands. What prompted you to relocate to Hong Kong to live and work there?  

I was born and raised in Schiedam. I moved to Rotterdam when I was about 20. I always wanted to know what it would be like to live and work in Hong Kong; obviously, it had to do with my roots. Hong Kong always fascinated me; it's a city where you can find everything. An opportunity to work in Hong Kong came up via my former supervisor, and I thought, 'Just go for it; it's now or never.' I made the leap and I'm very happy I did so at the time. 


Is one or both or your parents of Asian descent? What brought them to the Netherlands?

My parents are from Hong Kong but they have lived in the Netherlands for about 40 years, I think. They moved to the Netherlands with my grandparents when they were really young. They met each other in the Netherlands and married there, too. They have lived in Rotterdam for such a long time that they don't feel any need to move back to Hong Kong. But they do come over every two or three years to spend a couple of weeks on holiday.


What led you to Aartsen Asia? 

To be honest, I had never heard of Aartsen before I applied here. It is sheer coincidence that led me here. I was no longer happy in my previous job – it wasn't the right fit for me – so I decided to resign and try something new. A friend of mine sent me the link to the vacancy at Aartsen Asia. I subsequently applied and I was hired.  


Can you tell that Aartsen is a European company, or is it Asian? 

I experienced what it's like working for a Chinese company in my previous job. Basically, it's the opposite of the Dutch work culture. Aartsen is a Dutch company with a flat structure: everyone is equal. There is no hierarchy, as opposed to Asian companies in which hierarchy plays an important role. This flat structure allows for decisions to be taken quickly and implemented quickly, which I personally really appreciate. 


What do you love about your job?

It's varied; every day is different and we have daily contact with people from around the entire world. We are a young, dynamic company and there is still plenty of opportunity for growth. I like being able to do my part in it. Of course, my colleagues also make the job fun; we're in it together, after all. 


How long have you been working at Aartsen? 

Almost 2 years.


What’s your educational background and where did you work before joining Aartsen?

European Studies at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Previously, I worked at the Hong Kong branch of the Bank of China; I also worked for Bank of China in Rotterdam for seven years.  


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

So many things! When I was a child, I wanted to be a lawyer, a hotel owner, a professional tennis player or a dolphin caretaker. The theme of this Refresh is 'Friends'. What associations do you have with this word? Good times. 


What does friendship mean in Hong Kong? 

I don't think there are any real differences between friendships here and in Rotterdam. A friendship is a friendship. It is true that Hong Kong is a transitory place. The nice thing about Hong Kong is that it's not difficult to meet new people. You find people from every corner of the world here. 


How important is friendship to you? 

You have to have friends. Well, 'have to' – let's just say that having friends makes your life more enjoyable. 


What do you do with your friends?  

We definitely go out to eat quite often here. There is an unbelievable amount of restaurants and there is always some place new to try. Who is your best friend? How long have you known her, and how did you meet? My best friend lives in the Netherlands. I have known her for 20 years and we met through a part-time job. 


Is a long-distance friendship difficult?

The only thing that has changed is that we don't see each other very often. But we talk every day via WhatsApp and sometimes Facetime. We do our own thing but with friends you simply make the time, even when there is distance involved. The same goes for family, of course. We just have to keep the time difference in mind. 


What are your hobbies? 

I try to catch a movie at the cinema every once in a while. Hiking is also something I enjoy. There is a lot of nature here; it's always nice to get out of the city now and then. I also like to travel; every year, I pick a new place that I haven't been to before. I'm trying to exercise more, too; go swimming and running. Name one thing that could make your life better. Maybe a yacht? Then I could just sail to wherever I wanted to go.


What do you miss about the Netherlands now that you live in Hong Kong?  

Herring; so delicious. And complaining about the weather. It's almost always nice weather here so I don't have any reason to complain.  


What is your worst habit? 



Name one temptation you are unable to resist. 

Ice cream, and tong sui. That's a Chinese sweet soup – it makes for a heavenly dessert, or a delicious snack.  


What would you like to change about the world?  

People should have more respect and love for each other, and for nature. 


If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?  

Actually, I can't think of anyone with whom I would truly want to trade places. But if I absolutely have to choose: an astronaut. I think it would be quite extraordinary to see Earth from out in space. 


Do you have a personal motto? If so, what is it? 

A day without laughter is a day not lived.