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Q & A with Flora Lew

Meet our staff!

A series of Q&As that take a peek behind the curtain at the working lives (and working-from-home lives) of Chan Centre staff members.

Here, we learn more about Finance Manager Flora Lew.

Working-from-home selfie
Chan Centre staff in 2002

"My favourite spot has and always will be looking out at the lobby below from the Juliet balcony. It’s a quiet place to read when the building is empty and it’s a fantastic viewpoint when the place is coming to life before a show."

Flora Lew

Name: Flora Lew


Chan Centre staff member since: March 1997


What is your official job title?

Manager, Finance


What does that mean, in a nutshell?

I’m involved with anything that costs or brings in money so my fingers are in a lot of business processes at the Chan Centre. I oversee accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and financial reporting. But the interesting part is that all these functions impact programming, ticketing, front of house, production, and marketing so I get an overview of how everything comes together from booking, putting on, and settling an event.


Why a career in the arts? What is your background?

I’m first-generation Canadian who is a Vancouverite, born and raised in East Van. My family owned and ran a corner grocery store and my brothers and I were working behind the counter by the ripe old age of 8, so counting money pretty much comes natural to me. We did the usual things expected of children of new immigrants – go to school, study, work – go to university, study, work – and then ultimately get a good stable job. I graduated from UBC with a degree in Psychology and from BCIT from the Administrative Management program. My career at UBC started in the Department of Civil Engineering where I had the most wonderful experience with a great group of professors and colleagues who I remember fondly to this day. But after eight years, I felt a need for a change of scenery so I committed to a 180 by switching from an applied science faculty to an arts environment and joined the Chan Centre two weeks before the doors opened in March 1997. It’s been 23 years of excitement, frustration, laughter, angst, and pure joy…better than a ride on the wooden roller coaster at the PNE.


What is the coolest part of your job?

C’mon…. is there really anything NOT cool about playing with money in a cultural environment? One of my favourite quotes comes from Zita Cobb who said “Nature and culture are the two great garments of human life. And business and technology are the two great tools that can and will serve them.”

What is your most memorable Chan Centre moment?

This is going back to the beginning…it’s when I toured the Chan Centre for the very first time two weeks before its official opening and the seats in the concert hall weren’t even installed yet – it was just one big cavernous space with the acoustic canopy hanging over the stage, still designated a hard hat zone. I knew at that moment that not many people would ever have an opportunity to see it that way and I was amongst a lucky few to actually witness the formation of a concert hall.


What is your favourite part of the building?

Though the finance and administration office is located in Mary Bollert Hall across the street, my favourite spot at the Chan Centre has and always will be looking out at the lobby below from the Juliet balcony. It’s a quiet place to read when the building is empty and it’s a fantastic viewpoint when the place is coming to life before a show.


What is your go-to UBC lunch grab?

I usually brown bag it, but for a sweet snack I can’t resist a UBC Ponderosa Cake which are available pretty much everywhere on campus. A generous square of cake with a hot cup of tea makes working on spreadsheets way more enjoyable in the afternoon. The recipe for Ponderosa Cake is available on the UBC website and it’s been satisfying my cravings during remote working from home…. though I must admit a 9” x 13” pan of it (see below!) is a bit too much for one, but perfect for a family and sharing with friends.


Chan Centre staff are working from home these days. What’s helping you cope? Keeping you inspired?

Baking, eating, gardening, drinking, sleeping…… repeat. Oh! And gardening videos…lots of gardening videos, home organization videos, plus the music of INXS and Tears for Fears (cranked up)…what can I say, I’m a child of the 80s. I think the programming team is cringing at me right now.

UBC's yummy Ponderosa Cake
Flora's garden in bloom
Thu Jun 18, 2020