Cesar is happiest when he travels.
Cesar Robles Lastra (28) recently came back from his trip to the Netherlands and in the meantime he also attended the international fair Fruit Attraction Madrid. Traveling is in Cesar’s blood and to no one’s surprise, the position of Commercial Trader for Aartsen Asia suits him perfectly. We are happy to get a hold of Cesar in between trips and are delighted to share his story and contagious enthusiasm.
At the age of twelve, Cesar undertakes his first solo adventure abroad. He is going on a trip to Ireland, where he will spend the summer with a host family, learning English. A great success, and in the years that follow more summers are spent in English speaking countries, from the UK to the US. Cesar: “When I was sixteen, I got the opportunity to go abroad for a full year. My mom thought it was a waste of money to spend so much just on summer holidays. So she sent me abroad for a full year. And that’s how it started: from then on, all I wanted to do was travel.”
After one year of living the American dream as an exchange student in Montana, it’s time for Cesar to go to University. “I combined two degrees: business administration & management, and international trade. In my third year I was finally allowed to study abroad. As an Erasmus exchange student I studied in Budapest. For my last year of university I moved to back to the US. To finish up university and after the year abroad in the US, I had to complete my final theses in barely one month. I think that has been one of the biggest achievement of my life so far. I’ve never worked so hard as I did during that month and I spent so much time and effort in it.” After obtaining his two bachelor degrees, Cesar joins a masters program in which he is selected to represent his region working as an International Trade Advisor. Quite the opportunity, since only a few students are selected to join the program. But for Cesar it meant something else: he would finally be able to travel again. “For me, it was an opportunity to discover a new part of the world. Because of my background they wanted to send me to the United States again, but I insisted on going to Hong Kong and thankfully, I got the position there.”
The arrival in Hong Kong was not entirely pleasant, Cesar tells us. “Every day, there were riots on the streets and pretty soon after my arrival the pandemic started. It was difficult to find opportunities and possibilities to travel were limited.” But then, out of nowhere an opportunity presented itself: Aartsen was looking for a Spanish speaking employee. “I started work on December 8th as a Commercial Trader, which is such a dynamic job. I’m responsible for the import of Spanish produce, the Indian market, now in transition to Vietnam and we have just shipped the first container ever from South Africa to Bangladesh. There’s so much to do!”
With less and less restrictions in place, the job turns out to be perfect for Cesar. “As a sales person I appreciate this type of work. Constantly looking for ways to push for more sales, discovering new markets, and lots of traveling. All the traveling makes this the best job for me right now! However, what I appreciate equally is the feeling of being part of a family. I feel so welcome and it is because Aartsen is a family business. You are important as a person, you’re not just another employee. It’s not just about numbers, Aartsen truly cares for you and looks after you. As a newbie I got such a warm welcome. Everyone was willing to help me out to get started.”
It is exactly the work environment that allows Cesar to thrive. “The business is doing well and that motivates me to work even harder. Besides, Aartsen gives you all the opportunities to grow, to develop the skills you need to move to the next position. While always considering where your qualities and ambitions lie. Whatever opportunity they give me, I’ll be here to take it with both hands. It’s important for me to keep growing and developing myself. Whether it is to develop a new potential market like Bangladesh, or expanding the existing ones in Vietnam or India.”
With his colleagues from all over the world, Cesar feels at home in Hong Kong. “The secret behind the company’s success is the diversity of the team. There’s so much to learn from each other, everyone has a different background and brings in new knowledge or a different approach. And when you work this well together, you get the best results.”
Name: Cesar Robles Lastra
Aartsen branch: Hong Kong
Place of birth: Léon, Spain
Fruit: Flat peach
Vegetable: Red bell pepper
Dish: Seafood paella
City: New York
Drink: Red wine
On his bucket list: Skydiving, South America, Afrika and watching the World Cup live.
Did you know? During his Erasmus exchange year in Budapest, Cesar visited 17 countries!