The first woman to achieve the status as a beer sommelier in Asia, Belle Leung, is restless and always on the lookout for challenges. Whether it was in her banking role, working in a private kitchen, or in her present position in fintech and co-founding HK Brewcraft, it is her ability to get things done that sets her apart.
Leung feels honoured to be the region’s first beer sommelier, a title awarded by the US-based Beer Judge Certification Program. She has judged beers in Shanghai, Taiwan, Beijing and Hong Kong. She hopes to inspire more people, although she admits that it is a long road ahead, where she continues to learn and hope that more women develop an interest in beer.
Leung describes HK Brewcraft as her “part-time project” where she helps on the managerial side in addition to hosting workshops. “Time management is very important and the key route to [that] is knowing your priorities,” she says. “You need to know what’s more important to deal with.”
Leung is a big believer in task lists and makes sure she has all her daily items checked off before going to sleep. “It might actually sacrifice some sleeping time, unfortunately,” she says with good humour. But she stresses that it isn’t just about work. “I do bother myself with work and make sure that everything is done, and at the same time you actually need some relaxation. So I do sports, [and] spend some time with my friends to balance it out.”
Although Leung’s experience helped her set up a beer business with friends, it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. “It was very challenging in the beginning because a lot of unexpected things happen and you need to be there 24/7, since we are a diversified business,” she says. “The skills set in trying to please every single type of customer is quite challenging. But, if you get your priorities right, you know how to hire the right people.”
She says the aspect of timing is important in all matters, whether it is buying your first real estate, getting married, starting your own business or making a career move. “You need to seize the [moment] when you see the opportunity, and capture it.”
With a previous tendency to spending most of her time at work, Leung makes sure she travels often. She explains that when you are young, it is easier to travel more, meet different people and be open to different experiences.
The shift in her priorities from self-exploration to nurturing relationships with family and friends at the centre of her life was a gradual but significant one. “Human relationships do die when people set different priorities, and you need to make a lot of effort to keep them,” she says.