Ai Hashimoto is an engineer in the Engineering and Safety, Technical Department, Park Operations Division, of Universal Studios Japan.


Thoughts on Women in the Industry

What is the most pressing issue facing women in the workplace today, and how can the attractions industry influence positive change?
Perhaps the most difficult issue facing women as they enter the workplace is being able to achieve a work/life balance. The understanding and cooperation of others, as well as the person herself, is needed to effect positive change.

How have you seen the industry evolve in regard to gender roles?
When I entered this industry, women were already active in various lines of work. In this industry, one must look at things through various lenses from the perspective of users. Of course, it may be necessary to view things from the perspective of a woman, and sometimes from the viewpoint of a mother. Regardless of the role, I believe women are becoming absolutely indispensable in a variety of different situations.

How have you built your network of women in the industry?

In this industry, the networks within the company, as well as networks among other companies, are very strong. I have expanded my networks by participating in a number of events; my participation in IAAPA is one such network. Through these events, I have had the opportunity to meet many powerful, active women.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to convey to women starting their attractions careers?
There are so many female movers and shakers in this industry. I think there is no other industry where you can have this much fun working and everyone just enjoys themselves. So, it’s best to start your career with the frame of mind to enjoy yourself, rather than being self-conscious of yourself as a woman.

Creating Careers of Distinction

How do you invest in yourself as a leader?
I am aware that I must be continuously learning and have a responsibility to myself to do so. I am working on trying to improve myself.
What is your most cherished work principle?
I value the idea of always taking on challenges. The level demanded in my work is quite high, but I always embrace the challenges in any task.
What do you consider your most significant career accomplishment?
When I first entered this industry, I was involved in the launch of a new area. Previously, I had worked in a completely different industry, so everything was new, and I experienced a string of difficulties every day. But, when the area was completed, I forgot all of those hard times.
What has had the greatest impact on your career?
A few years ago, I was involved in the launch of a new attraction. I have never forgotten the looks of delight on the faces of the guests who rode that attraction for the first time. Even when I face difficulties in my work, I can get through those times by remembering their smiles.
What has been the greatest challenge of your career?
My main job is to check the safety of and consider measures for attractions.  What I always consider difficult in improving safety is that I have to maintain the high level safety without compromising guest satisfaction and entertainment. To do this, I try to understand the guests’ experiences, as well as improve my knowledge as an engineer.

What was the greatest piece of career advice you ever received?
Some time ago, I had a boss who told me that what was important was not my age, sex, or position; it was what I was doing. I realized that until that point, I had been making excuses for myself like, “I’m still young” or “I’m too immature…” Although nothing out of the ordinary,
I try to keep those words in mind even today.

The Future of the Industry

Why did you join and choose to stay in the attractions business?
I wanted to be involved in manufacturing field as an engineer. At first, I started to work in an automotive industry. However, I rarely had an opportunity to see the end users of those cars made by our company. So, I chose to work in this industry, as I felt it more attractive to be engaged in creating new features and to get a first-hand look at the guests who experience the outcome.
What makes you most passionate about the industry?

First and foremost, I am most passionate about having the chance to see the smiling faces of the guests directly and be on the receiving end of their words about how much fun they are having. This makes it feel like it’s all worthwhile.

​​Know a professional we should talk to? E-mail Prasana William, IAAPA manager, digital content and strategy.

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