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Operation Santa Claus

AIA staff go the distance for charity, raising HK$190,000 in annual run

Employees raise funds by finding sponsors, with the company matching donations dollar for dollar

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 December, 2017, 2:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 December, 2017, 9:48pm

It was that time of the year again for more than 100 AIA staff to do their bit for the community as they gathered at the Happy Valley Racecourse for the company’s annual charity run as part of Operation Santa Claus, the yearly fundraiser jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

This was the fifth year that the insurance firm mobilised employees to run for a cause, and the AIA Christmas Challenge was off to another strong start at the sound of the horn.

Wat Hong-lit, one of the organisers, explained that each lap was about 1.4km, and runners had signed up for a total of 480 laps.

“The whole event is very meaningful,” said Wat, who did 10 laps. “A bit hectic for me because I’m the organiser, but seeing everyone enjoying [themselves] and raising funds for those in need, I think it’s very meaningful.”

First-time participant and AIA chief financial officer Garth Jones embraced the chance to hit the track with his staff, as he had always wanted to join in but was unable to before because of business commitments.

“It’s a great way to show my support for all the people here,” he said. “But there’s a lot of peer pressure. They said we start with 10 laps, but I only have 15 minutes because I have a meeting to attend, so it’s going to be a stretch. So I’m hoping in 15 minutes, if I can do three laps, I’ll be happy.”

Jones praised the event for encouraging staff to be healthier, and for a good cause.

“I think it’s tremendous that we get everybody to contribute, it’s part of our whole ethos about how we can make people live longer, healthier lives, and our corporate social responsibility theme is about health living. So this is a way that we are going to make our staff healthier by running, while also giving something back to the community.”

Participants were encouraged to set their own targets for the run and find sponsors – the company would then match every dollar donated, with a ceiling of HK$100,000.

Group chief risk officer Jon Nielson was encouraged to see so many staff members taking part.

“We’ve got a broad group of people across different functions in AIA to participate, so it’s not just one part of the company, it fosters team engagement within AIA and also gives back to the community.”

Runner Clive Mathews, who had set himself a target of five laps, agreed.

“It’s a fun time for everybody because working in the building you can often see people in the lifts, in the corridors, and some people you don’t see when you’re travelling a lot. So it’s good to bring people together for this enjoyable event, which also raises money for charity.”

Mark Saunders, group executive and head of strategy and corporate development, was also running for the first time.

“I think it’s a great exercise for us, and we all should take part because we’ve all got responsibility for looking after our health, and Operation Santa Claus is a fantastic cause, it’s great for Hong Kong people, so we are very happy to support it.”

This year the runners completed a total of 509 laps and raised over HK$190,000.