Interview by Isao Tokuhashi
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Kate Grannan (UK)
Operations Director, JLE Japan – staffing agency for international sporting events including the Rugby World Cup 2019
The huge sports events are coming to Japan from this year to next year. One is Tokyo Olympics which will be held from July until August 2020. Another is the Rugby World Cup which will take place from September until November this year. We met Kate Grannan from JLE Japan, who is from the UK and is hoping to play a valuable role in ensuring as many people as possible get to experience these major sporting events first hand.
JLE Japan is a staffing and event agency based in Tokyo, which launched in May 2019. It’s a partnership with the UK company called JLE, which has provided hospitality staff for the major sports events such as PGA and the Six Nations. They looked for and found a partner who had much experience in the Tokyo market, then they shared their expertise to be able to work on international sporting events, starting with the Rugby World Cup 2019.
Kate is responsible for recruiting, training and managing staff who deliver hospitality to people from around the globe. Actually she is very new to Japan and came to Asia for the first time. We hear her impressions and perspectives on Japan, her path in being involved in the international major event and how she was obsessed with the magic of sports world.
*Interview at JLE Japan (Shinjuku-ku)
*Thanks to: Outbound K.K
Pursuit of career in sports industry
I landed in Tokyo in the beginning of May 2019. I feel that Japan has an amazing culture. People are very open and so excited to tell you about the city, the country, the culture, the Japanese way of doing things. There are very good vibes and energy in the city. Everybody is always on the go and very quick. I like it and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of Japan.
I have worked on different sports events mainly as a staffing and volunteer manager for nearly 10 years. I worked for the Rugby World Cup 2011 held in New Zealand, 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, European Games 2015 held in Baku, Azerbaijan and Special Olympics 2019 held in Abu Dhabi.
I played tennis, badminton and netball in the UK in my school days, but it was not the reason I became involved in sports events. I started my career in business development within the insurance industry, but I left the job when I was 29 and I moved to Australia. It was a country that I always wanted to live in and I found myself settling in Melbourne where I took a temp job at a professional rugby club called Melbourne Storm. I managed the sponsors and commercial partners for the Club and stayed with them for 6 months and then all the jobs such as Rugby World Cup 2011 and 2012 London Olympics followed afterwards.
I was working at a rugby team in the North of England looking after their fan engagement when I saw the advertisement of the job openings at JLE Japan. I was interested in it and decided to join them even though I’d never been to Asia.
Attractiveness of working in the sports world
To play sports is fantastic because I love the team work. But to work in sports is really exciting and enjoyable too. The sports industry is very unique to be involved with because you can get joy, pleasure and happiness through working with staff, teams and athletes even if it’s very hard work, long hours and tiring. It really is blood, sweat and tears, but it’s amazing.
I love the spectator experience the fan has when going to the sports game. That experience they have from the moment they step inside the venue to the moment they leave is something I love the most. To many people, going to major sports events is once in a lifetime. I’ve been involved in so many once-in-a-lifetime events, so I’m very happy.
I’ve worked with different people in the different countries. You have to accept the culture, people, the way of doing something when you are working in a different country because you’re in their country. That always challenging and things often don’t go according to plan, although it is always still enjoyable. I didn’t expect to be involved in the sports industry at all, but I really love it now because I’ve met so many amazing people from all over the world who are like-minded, hardworking and very experienced. Sports events are for the spectators, so our job is to make all the spectators happy and that’s what I love to do.
Come join us!
We are hiring staff to work in the different hospitality areas for the Rugby World Cup. Our aim is to recruit staff such as bartenders, waiters, waitresses, people who want to meet and greet VIPs at the airports and hotels, tour guides who welcome foreign visitors from all different countries to Japan to watch the games.
The Rugby World Cup has never been held in Asia, so it will be an amazing and exciting experience to work on the international stage. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people. The excitement and enthusiasm that the fans in the cities where the games take place have will be fabulous.
As a foreigner here in Japan, I’m very excited to work in a different country, and to experience such a different culture from the one I’m used to.
If you can speak Japanese and some level of English, please join our team. If you can speak languages such as French or Portuguese, that’s fantastic, please do get in touch. We are trying to communicate with as many people as possible and your ages don’t matter. You are not familiar with rugby? Don’t worry. You don’t have to like the sport, just come along to work at the World Cup and it will be the most enjoyable and amazing experience. You’ll meet so many different people from so many different countries, make some great friends and it’s the chance to promote Japan as a country and Tokyo as a city.
Interested? Visit jle-staffing.co.uk/jle-japan!