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Sonja Vodusek

General Manager
The Peninsula Tokyo

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 2 (as of January 2018)

Sonja Vodusek
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

I first came to Japan as a room attendant for the Sheraton Grande in Tokyo, followed by a second appointment as consulting director of rooms at the former Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so. This is my third appointment in Japan, a country that I have such deep respect for and which I consider as my second home.

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

Some people say there is light at the end of the tunnel; I say, be in the tunnel and light it yourself. In other words, drive your own career, choose your own path, and formulate your own management style as you learn from different leaders. Most importantly, ask yourself in each role you take:
What will my legacy be and how would I like to be remembered?

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

Caring for the community is a core value of mine, and I believe that my successes are deeply rooted in the successes of the communities I visit and call home. During my time with the Four Seasons, I undertook a volunteer mission at the Sala Bai Hotel and Restaurant School that runs a program for underprivileged youth in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This was a most humbling experience for me. When I was working at The Peninsula Manila, there were two causes that were very close to my heart. The first was our Hope for the Philippines initiative in 2013 where we raised nearly $1 million to build a village of 75 brand new homes for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. The second was our global Peninsula in Pink campaign to support breast cancer awareness, where we raised funds over a two-year period to build and upgrade the facilities of a breast care center for the underprivileged in Manila.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

Our mission at The Peninsula Tokyo is to become the employer of choice in the city. We aim to uphold our reputation as a genuine and caring employer by nurturing the wellness and well-being of our staff members, fostering a positive and inclusive work environment, and helping our employees become the best they can be by offering them opportunities for training, growth, and development, both locally and internationally.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

My advice is to really take your time and put in the effort to build your network, and gain the trust and respect from the people you work with. How? Look, listen and learn about the environment, make friends, be present and gain consensus in your dealings so that you are seen as a team player. Find the right people who will be your support, as they will greatly help you on your path toward achieving your goals and making life easier for you as you navigate the culture. It is a wonderful culture and it does take time to adapt, but be patient and you will certainly reap the rewards longer term.

Last updated: Oct 2, 2018