Koalas in Hong Kong

The trappings of office

ANZ operates in 33 markets across Australia, New Zealand, Asia Pacific, Europe, America and the Middle East. There are 200 cultural or ethnic backgrounds and more than 90 languages in our offices – and a bewildering array of artefacts, memorabilia, memento mori, artwork and surprising decoration. Once a month BlueNotes will stick our nose into someone’s workplace and ask just what do some of these things mean… 

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The ANZ offices in Exchange Square in Hong Kong have a particular personality. Vibrant, colourful, dynamic. It is the personality of Hong Kong chief executive Susan Yuen. Or, more particularly, it is the personality of the artwork which adorns the office walls, painted by Susan.

She is a keen artist, concentrating on bright landscapes and abstracts, but Susan doesn’t see her art as just decorative. Take the village scene, “Serenity”, currently hanging in her office. It is actually one of about 30 works Susan has sold to raise seed money for a scholarship to be awarded to outstanding first and second year female undergraduates pursuing degrees in computer engineering, computer science and electronic engineering.

ANZ Hong Kong partnered with The Women’s Foundation (TWF) to offer the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Scholarship Program at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  So far Susan’s art has raised around $HK500,000 as seed money for the scholarship.

This particular landscape has added significance: a painting of a Swedish village by a Malaysian Chinese educated at the University of London has been sold to a Singaporean- born Indian who is a Canadian citizen – in Hong Kong dollars.

“That’s connections and diversity for you,” Susan says.

The toy Koala signifies another ANZ project in Hong Kong, a Koala exhibit at the OceanPark nature reserve. Initially envisaged as an exchange between Adelaide zoo and Ocean Park, with Adelaide getting a Giant Panda exhibit, things became more complicated when it was pointed out a Koala devours the equivalent of around 1000 eucalyptus trees a year. So step one has been to establish about 10,000 trees.

Susan’s wide interests and insatiable curiosity are well known in Hong Kong and the telescope is a light hearted gift from staff reflecting how closely she watches them. “They gave it to me because I am always wandering up and down and asking questions – this way they said I didn’t have to leave my office,” she says, adding “but I like leaving my office!”

2014 is of course the Chinese year of the Horse so someone in Hong Kong, particularly someone of Chinese descent, could hardly not have such an auspicious figurine. Although normally wood, this one being gold has added power for wealth creation and victory.

“We gave these horses to our customers for Chinese New Year to wish them fortitude and prosperity and vitality – good things for a bank to be associated with,” Susan says.

— As told to Andrew Cornell, Managing Editor BlueNotes.

Susan Yuen, Chief Executive Officer Hong Kong

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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