Meet your colleagues

One of the special things of working at Hotel Okura Amsterdam is the fact that you will be working in an environment with people with different cultural backgrounds. The Okura Amsterdam has a team of approximately 380 team members who have 29 different nationalities. While the majority has the Dutch nationality (50%), Okura also has a large amount of Japanese team members (25%). Because of the large amount of different nationalities, the main language within the hotel is English. Another attractive aspect of working at Hotel Okura Amsterdam is that your future is wide open. There are many opportunities to grow, both within your own department as to other departments. In the interviews below you can meet two Okura colleagues who share their experiences!
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Careers that go beyond borders

Hotel Okura Amsterdam is of course a unique company in many ways. One of the special things is the fact that the identity consists of a mixture of different cultural backgrounds. In total there are 29 different nationalities within the organization. Working at Hotel Okura Amsterdam means that you will get in contact with many different cultures. The roots of this company lie in Japan and still today you can see that everywhere. About 25% of all employees is from Japanese origin. Most of these colleagues moved to Amsterdam for a few years especially for their work. One of those dedicated people is Mariko Matsuzawa (1985).

'29 different nationalities in 1 company'

You moved to the other side of the world for your work, why did you choose for Hotel Okura Amsterdam?

First of all I was very interested in living in a different country, it is of course an exciting experience. Secondly, I was very interested in finding out how the Japanese culture is viewed by people from a completely different background. Before moving to Amsterdam, I had already received training at Hotel Okura Tokyo before. I recognized myself in the culture of the Okura Company. In Japanese we have the word ‘wa’, which roughly translates into teamwork / harmony. The ‘wa’ in Okura Company was a big reason for wanting to work in Hotel Okura Amsterdam.

Currently you have been working at Hotel Okura Amsterdam for over 7 years, how do you look back at this period?

At first I was really concentrated on my work as a waitress in Yamazato Restaurant. After I got more experienced with my own job, I started to have more contact with the other departments. These interdepartmental connections helped me in my own personal development. The Dutch culture is always very welcoming to other cultures.

Did you plan to stay for such a long period in the hotel?

Originally, most Japanese staff members stay for a period of three years, but the last years I had the possibility to grow within my department. I was promoted to supervisor and wanted to stay longer to improve the team. In the meantime I have taken multiple trainings and finished an advanced sake-course. For new colleagues my advice would be to look around beyond your own department: there are many possibilities to develop yourself and others are always willing to help, use that!

A career that never stands still

One of the attractive things of working with Hotel Okura Amsterdam is that your future is wide open. For all our employees there are many opportunities for growth. Both within your department as in other parts of the hotel. It happens on a regular base that colleagues continue their career in a completely different department. This way they gain experience in every part of the hotel business. An example of a person who has taken big steps is Joeri van den Broek (1987).

'New functions without ever leaving the company'

How did you end up working at the Okura?

I started at Hotel Okura Amsterdam when I was still studying. As an apprentice of the hotelschool I worked in both the kitchen and the roomservice department. When I continued with a further education at Hotelschool Leeuwarden I came into contact with someone from the HR-department. Before I knew it I had an interview and after that thing went fast: three weeks later I was hired as a service employee in the Serre Restaurant, without any experience in service.

How did your career develop from that point on?

After a year I was asked to become supervisor. A great honor, because I always had the ambition to develop myself. Eventually I made the adventurous choice to go to a completely different department: I became assistant chief stewarding (dishwashing department). I wanted to gain more knowledge and experience in a managing position within a hotel, so the transfer to such an important department with a group of 27 team members was a nice challenge. Also after that things went fast, the trust was there and at the moment I am chief steward.

At this point, you are already with the company for 5 years, how do you see your future?

Now that I have a better insight in what the hotel business looks like, I know that my focus is clearly on F&B. My goal is to eventually be in the F&B management, so less the actual managing of specific departments and more thinking on a strategic level. I feel that I would have to make a lot of other steps to get there, so I want to do that by making another step towards a different department in the future. For example to gain experience as an assistant chief in a department like banqueting or one of the restaurants. By doing so, you are building on a broad knowledge base, that will all be useful at some point in the future.

What would you like future colleagues to know about working at Hotel Okura Amsterdam?

In terms of possibilities to develop yourself I know that the options in this hotel are enormous, if you want something than it is possible. But you will have to pursue it yourself, be proactive. It will only work to your advantage. An example of this is my participation to the young professionals program. I had to apply for the training from own initiative and looking back I can say that it has been the ultimate development, I will use these experiences for the rest of my life.