Annette Them Serup is the new director of administration and accounting at Mission East.
By Svend Løbner 30 Nov 2021 | Mission East

An atypical finance professional with an awareness of both columns and culture

Annette Them Serup is the new director of administration and accounting at Mission East.

What do Chinese, cultural understanding and a career in NGO finance have to do with each other?

Lots! if one knows Annette Them Serup. She has a masters in finance from Aarhus University, where she also studied East Asia Area Studies and learned the Chinese language Mandarin. She has just been hired as administration and accounting director at Mission East's head office in Copenhagen.

Annette Serup comes from a position as chief accountant in Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke and has previously been controller in the Danish Red Cross' international department and head of accounting and administration in the International Rehabilitation Council of Torture Victims (IRCT). She has also worked for several years as a consultant in the auditing firm Deloitte.

Has found her niche

Annette Serup describes herself as having "a somewhat atypical profile as an accountant", but interview and CV quickly reveal that her special profile with both language and mathematical skills fits right into the so-called "NGO sector".

Because it's not just about numbers and columns, systems and structures. More is needed:

- I want to make a difference with my finance background. It gives something extra to work for a higher purpose; to help people and make the world a better place. It gives a really good energy, she says.

"There must be a drive"

Why did you apply to Mission East?

- It piqued my curiosity that we work in areas that are often affected by conflict and disaster. I was blown away and thought: How can it even be possible to work in countries like Afghanistan and North Korea? There must be something special about that organization! There must be a drive. People who really want to do something!

And now Annette Serup is on the team with her own "drive" and will manage an annual budget of 79 million kroner (2020) for the benefit of hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Armenia, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Syria and Tajikistan.

Small organization with a large sphere of influence

In addition to a strong financial professionalism, she is also familiar with communicating across cultures. And that is needed in relation to Mission East offices and partner organizations in the nine project countries, the operational department in Brussels and the sister organization in Berlin.

- It appeals to me that on the one hand we are a small organization with relatively few employees at the head offices. But on the other hand, there are over 200 employees in all. Mission East is a small organization with a large sphere of influence. It shows the need for structure and the possibility of building efficient systems. So here I am betting on being able to make a positive difference.

Relax by cycling on Europe's country roads

Annette Them Serup is married to Kim, with whom she has two grown children. When the children were small, the family traveled the world for three months and got a taste for other cultures. This initially led to a posting in Brussels and has since influenced Annette to move back in the NGO sector.

How do you relax and disconnect from the problems of the world?

- I have always run a lot and ran a marathon a few years ago. In recent years, I have also started cycling: road cycling with my husband and a couple of friends. Among other things, we have biked to France and enjoyed the beautiful countryside. It's relaxing to be out in nature, feel the wind, stop by a café and have a glass of wine and just enjoy life.