Team Talk #3: Ishimaru Aika [Operations Supervisor]

This is the second in a series of interviews that covers how Section L came to be and shares what makes working here fun and truly exceptional. Interested in working with us? Check out our latest job openings here!
1. You joined the company in 2021, does that make you the employee who has been here the longest? Could you also tell us about your background?

Yes, I have been here the longest in the operations team! I was born in America and accumulated quite a lot of experience working in restaurants during my student years. It has been 11 years since I graduated and came to Japan! Time flies by so quickly. My educational background is in cosmetology and I worked as a hairdresser for a while too. On top of this, I’ve done work related to events and illustration.

In Section L, the hierarchy of operation roles start with the managers at the top, followed by the supervisors, and then the associates. I joined as an associate in 2021 when Section L only had one hotel, which was Ginza East. I had no hospitality experience so I was overwhelmed at times! But I have gained many new experiences over the past 2 years and I was just promoted to be a supervisor!

2. Why did you choose to join Section L?

I’ve always known I wanted to try working in the hospitality industry. When I first came to Japan, my Japanese was not very good and struggled in many situations when I had to use it. Thankfully, my initial job as a hairdresser gave me the chance to practice using the language and I improved a lot. But keigo is still difficult for me! After quitting my job as a hairdresser, I thought about taking on a full-time office job but was ultimately drawn to a customer-facing role as I felt it would fit me best. I thought it would be great to find a job where I could use both English and Japanese regularly. My idea of hotels before was limited to luxury and business ones that salarymen would frequent so the idea of apartment-hotels intrigued me.

3. What does a day on the job look like for you?

I’m based at the front desk but often on the move as there are many tasks around the property to help out with to ensure smooth operations. At Section L, we always try to get to know our guests and I love chatting with them. I feel very comfortable in the job as it allows me to work in my own style.

4. Could you tell us about any memorable guest interactions you’ve had?

When you’re at the front desk, you can often hear many lively guest conversations! We heard requests from guests to meet other guests and based off that, we decided to run weekly happy hours where guests can enjoy complimentary drinks. This was probably due to the longing social interaction during the pandemic and once restrictions were lifted, we focused on setting up a sanitary environment were guests were comfortable to socialize in.

We once also received a request from a guest that having a mini library would be nice, so it has now become standard practice for us to have a few Japanese and English books in all our lobbies for guests. That mini library became somewhat of a community library, with our guests sometimes donating their own books to it. The book selection is so popular that we do have guests sometimes asking us to reserve a certain book for them.

5. How did you land the role of an operations supervisor?

The role is fairly new actually, and I selected and asked by my managers if I would be interested in it. I told them of course I am! I have seen how hard my managers work and there have been times I wanted to help them but was not in a position to. But now I can! I will also be able to share what I’ve learnt with other associates and guide them towards reaching their potential.

6. You mentioned that you feel that this job is very you. Could you tell us why?

I am someone who has a very positive mindset, and I really enjoy making people around me feel happy. In my previous job, I struggled with the language barrier and did not really feel like I could show my personality. But with how much I’ve grown in this job, I feel that I’m able to be myself. It also means a lot to me that some guests have mentioned my name in the positive reviews they leave for our hotels.