I Work at Zeus: Amy Kumagai
In this edition, we connect with Amy Kumagai, Sr. HR Generalist. Amy joined Zeus Living in 2018 and manages people/HR projects and analytics. Read on to learn more about Amy and what led her to Zeus.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I was born in Stanford, lived in Santa Clara for a few years, and then moved with my family to Cupertino when I was three. I lived there until I went off to college in Seattle.
Me & my big coat in rainy Seattle.
Me on a hike at Snoqualmie Falls, Washington.
What drew you to Seattle?
I had been in the South Bay my whole life, so I wanted to try a new city. Seattle is a beautiful place to live—it’s very green and lush. I learned that the people there do not take the sun for granted. As soon as the sun’s out (even if it’s like 50 or 60 degrees), people are out in shorts enjoying the sun and doing outdoor activities, like hanging out at the lake and hiking. But having come from California, the Seattle rain was a novelty for me. However, as soon as I graduated, I was ready to leave the rain and get back to California!
What was it about California that pulled you back?
The Bay Area is just a comfortable place for me. It had always been home and the place I’d return to whenever I was away. But about a year and a half ago, I decided to move to L.A. and purchase a home with my fiance’, Bryan, and our dog Queso.
I thought, “You know what? I’ve been here for a long time, let me try out a new city.” If you asked me five years ago if I’d live in L.A., I’d say, “no way.” But the more I visited the city, the more I began to love it.
“Wherever I am with Bryan and Queso feels like home because I’m with the ones I love.”
You’ve been able to call multiple cities home. What does home mean to you?
Home is anywhere you feel comfortable and where you can be yourself, so I feel that it’s more of a concept. Whenever I see my parents, no matter where we are, I feel at home. And wherever I am with Bryan and Queso feels like home because I’m with the ones I love.
My parents visiting us in L.A.
Me, Bryan, and Queso.
What’s most important to you in the space where you live?
Whenever people visit our home they talk about how cozy it is. So having furniture and design elements that make us (and our guests) comfortable is important. For example, we have a really comfortable pull-out couch that we always have pulled out so that everyone can relax and stretch out.
You mentioned your travels. Where are some of the places you’ve been?
I’ve done a lot of domestic travel and visited big cities, like Seattle, New York, and Honolulu. And I’ve traveled to a few National Parks. Internationally, I’ve visited Japan and Mexico. We were planning to visit Europe and Southeast Asia, but we put those trips on hold because of the pandemic. I can’t wait to visit once we’re comfortable traveling again.
Hiking Koko Head in Oahu .
Bryan & I got engaged in 2019 at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Japan!
“Seeing the way people live in other places has been inspiring.”
Do you think your travels have influenced your home in any way?
We like to display trinkets and knick-knacks that we’ve picked up during our travels in our home—they make our space feel lived in. But, in general, seeing the way people live in other places has been inspiring.
When I was in Japan, I noticed how efficiently people used a space. There are a lot of small spaces there, so seeing how they were able to use, for example, one space for a bedroom and a dining room was amazing. This made me want to use the space in my home more efficiently.
We loved your performance at the annual Zeus Got Talent show. When did you begin singing and playing the guitar?
I’ve always enjoyed singing since I was little. One of my earliest memories is singing “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas for my parents. (Laughing) My mom told me that I put so much feeling into that song.
But as I grew older, I stopped singing for a while. I became really self-conscious and too shy to sing in front of people. I remember in both middle school and high school, I almost tried out for the choir, but chickened out both times because I thought I wasn’t good enough. But in college, I started going to Karaoke spots with my friends, which was really fun and got me back to performing on stage in a way. I did it more and more, and it increased my confidence. As for the guitar, I just picked it up and started learning tabs. I grew up playing the piano, so I knew a bit of music theory.
That’s a great story. Do you perform more now?
No, but it’s always been a dream to do something musically on the side. I enjoy learning different songs on the piano or guitar, and learning how to sing an interesting run, but it’s really just been a hobby and a stress relief for me. I’ve never written a song before, so I think that would be something cool to do in the future.
We’ll be looking out for it! Let’s switch gears to your experience at Zeus Living. How long have you worked here?
It’ll be three years in November.
Tell us a little about what you do.
I’m a senior HR generalist, so I do a little bit of everything. When I first started, I focused on creating orientations and onboarding our new hires, which was exciting. Now, I handle people relations, benefits, people analytics, and payroll.
What part of your role do you enjoy the most?
I think what I love the most about my role is being able to interact and offer support to my coworkers, and welcome new hires. It’s been really fun for me.
I also enjoy the people analytics part of my job because it’s new to HR. I think, traditionally, a lot of people in HR roles don’t like to analyze numbers, so being able to run reports, calculate salaries, do headcounts, and analyze spending has been exciting.
“Being able to talk to people and make them feel welcomed and comfortable in the workplace really energizes me.”
Being a resource for employees is important. What made you want to be that person employees could talk to?
When I first started my career, I was an office manager. But what came naturally to me in that role was being there for people and connecting with them. Being able to talk to people and make them feel welcomed and comfortable in the workplace really energizes me. So I decided to hone in on that and searched for roles that would allow me to connect with people often.
What led you to Zeus Living?
I stumbled across Zeus in my job search. During the interview process, I was able to talk to so many different people, which really attracted me to join the team.
But I was really impressed after I joined the team. When I started, Zeus was about to enter a period of rapid growth and one of the company’s biggest priorities was to create a new-hire onboarding process. This is something a lot of companies implement too late, so I found it impressive that Zeus wanted to build a robust onboarding process so that people could join and feel knowledgeable about the company early on.
How do you like to start your workday?
I wish I could say that I wake up early and meditate or read a book, but that wouldn’t be true. Truthfully, (laughing) I wake up right before work and check my Slack and email in bed. Then I roll over, get ready for the day, and open my laptop.
How do you manage work-life balance?
Having boundaries and carving out time to do things I enjoy, like exercising, is big for me. Before Zeus went remote, I’d schedule a workout class at the end of the day, so that I’d have to stop working, leave the office, and go to my class. It was a nice way to unwind. Now that I’m working from home, I like to break up my day with a lunchtime workout or start immediately after work.
What keeps you at Zeus?
The people. I think everyone says that, but it’s true. We have a really great team here and I think what sets the Zeus team apart is that we live up to our core values—transparent, humble, iterative, and human-centric. Zeus is full of caring individuals who really want to do what’s right for employees, residents, partners, and the wider community.
What also keeps me here is the fact that Zeus is an inclusive environment. Ideas can come from anywhere, and people are always willing to listen.
Amy, thank you so much for your time! Before we end, we’d like to ask you a few rapid-fire questions. Ready?
High rise in the city or cabin in the woods?
High-rise in the city
Beach or mountains?
It’s 7:00 PM on a Friday night. What are you doing?
Pre-pandemic, I’d be out getting drinks or dinner. But nowadays I’m probably curled up on the couch with Bryan and Queso watching a TV series.
What’s something big or small that you’re really bad at?
I’m really bad at estimating large quantities and distance and height.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The more I travel, the more cities I’ll fall in love with and want to live in. I love living in L.A., and I see that as my home base, but I would love to spend a year or two in either Tokyo or Mexico City.
If you had to pick one age to be forever, which age would you choose?
Somewhere in the early thirties.
If you could switch homes for a month with someone, who would it be?
Rihanna. I’d live in any one of her homes.
Thank you, Amy!
I Work at Zeus is a monthly blog series that features the talented humans of Zeus Living. Interested in learning more about our work, culture, or joining the team? Visit our Careers page.