Meet the Perennials: Chan Nim Wan, aged 80, her daughter Sophia and their take on how families can stay resilient as they age

Priyanka Gothi

September, 09 2019, 9:06 AM

It is unusual to find parents and kids hanging out together after a certain age. More so, when the mum is 80 and the daughter in her late 40s. We met the dynamic duo of Sophia Chan and her inspiring mother Chan Nim Wan who have both given new meaning to lifelong companionship and learning, not just through active participation in the community, but by creating new opportunities to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world. Let’s hear their inspiring stories! 

Please share with us with your background. Where you grew up and what your childhood was like?

Chan Nim wan (80): I originally came from China with my parents. Life has become much better after we moved to Hong Kong. I retired around the age of 60, and I taught myself designing and how to make my own dresses afterwards. I enjoy experimenting and creating new designs.

Sophia (48): I have been in paper export/printing business for years, but I don’t want to retire yet. There are things I can do to contribute to the society. I always try to learn from my mom: although she is 80, she is still so vibrant and full of energy.

Both of you are really supportive of each other. Could you share with us more about it?

Sophia: I have been bringing my mom along with me to charity and volunteering activities in the last 10 years.  Family is the most important thing that lifts you up when you fail. My mom and I are like friends. We live and travel together, and share many common topics.


What would you say strengthens your relationship the most? 

Sophia: I am so proud of my mom, especially when it comes to her perspectives on life and her attitude. She is my role model. I keep learning and getting inspired because of her. 


What are the things people can learn from her?

Sophia: She is smart with a very positive attitude. She reads, travels and learns a lot. Because of this she has developed perspective on a lot of emerging trends. Recently I  asked her what the impact of AI on the future is. She thinks humans will still be essential in the society and can’t be replaced. My mom is also very active when it comes to technology.  She checks stock market apps all the time, and plays Mahjong on her phone for recreation.


What has been the turning point in your career and now that you look back,  what makes you happy?

Chan: Starting my own small business was the turning point of my life and it made me really happy. 


Does it bother you that you are now older? When does it bother you the most?

Chan: Not much. Nothing bothers when you realise it is futile to compare. The skills older and younger people have are different, so there’s no need to compare. Every individual is different and must learn to appreciate themselves at all stages of life.

What advice would you give to those who are older and exploring a second career?

Chan: You could go to elderly centre, classes offered by NGOs to learn singing and dancing.  Whatever you do, don’t shut yourself out from the world. Come out and explore more.


What advice would you give to the younger generation?

Chan: Work hard and try your best. There are always opportunities, but you need to make the most of them. Try to think more positively and collaborate with others.


What advice would you give to companies who are not sure if they should hire older talent?

Sophia: It depends on the nature of the role. For example, in banks, you need older and more experienced employees so they can help out older customers. Also for sales, you need people experienced in approaching people as well to build trust and relationships. So there are many situations where older talents can come in handy.