Instructor Story: Tom Chamineh
Before his winter season in Japan, Tom was working as a Real Estate Investment Analyst in London. Ready to take a break and have some fun, he signed up for a snowboard instructor internship with EA. Not long after, he packed his snowboard and boarded a plane destined for Japan.
Tom wanted to experience life in a ski town, so he chose to head to Nozawa Onsen. Nozawa Onsen is a traditional Japanese mountain village based in the middle of beautiful national park renowned for its great slopes, mineral water hot springs and bustling ski-town atmosphere. For Thomas, it ticked all the boxes offering fantastic food, great nightlife, and the Japanese Alps were on his doorstep.
Tom arrived in Nozawa and immediately started his instructor training. Thomas was a confident rider, but after spending time with some of the world’s best snowboard instructors, he quickly developed a high technical ability. He honed his technical expertise to a point where Tom stated "the biggest advice I would give myself is not to be freaked out about failing the exam. With the instruction given by Rich and the team, it's impossible to fail!"
While working as an instructor was utterly new experience, he found he was able to bring the relationship building skills he’d learned as a real estate analyst to his new role.
"It is not to be underestimated how much time you spend talking to clients not only about snow sports but also about everything - remember that there is a lot of time on chairlifts!"
Tom took to snowboard instructing like a fish to water. His natural ability to form close connections with repeat clients lead to him becoming one of the most popular snowboard instructors at the resort. He received a lot of good reviews and lesson requests from resort guests, something almost unheard of for junior instructors.
A favourite on and off the slopes, Tom enjoyed the social aspect of his winter and said the friendships he formed in Nozawa entirely made his time there – he now has a new handful of good friends for life. When he wasn’t working, Thomas could be found at Genki Burger or visiting his boys at Sun Yamaki where the “staff are brilliant, and the food is cheap great Japanese food.”
The biggest challenge Tom had to overcome on his EA course was adjusting to the traditional working culture in Japan. Tom went from being treated as a respected professional equal in London to a young, new instructor. This was initially a shock to the system and something he wants anyone considering working in Japan to be aware of stating “the lack of respect given to me by my superiors was irritating at first and something I had to work hard at to overcome.”
Despite the work culture challenges, Tom believes his snowboard instructor course with EA was an excellent experience and one he will remember forever.
“Working as an instructor is cool because, if I’m honest, you get to be the big dog on the mountain. Since completing my course, my life has changed. I am now an exponentially better snowboarder, and I can work anywhere in the world. I have made a huge number of friends who I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life. I also know that if I want to do more seasons or progress as an instructor through SBINZ, I have that option.”